How to report sexual harassment at academic institutions

On Behalf of | Jul 12, 2023 | Doctors/Healthcare Providers

If you’re a woman working in academic medicine in Florida, you might have experienced sexual harassment or know at least one female coworker who has. Medical school faculty who have experienced sexual harassment are less satisfied with their academic work environment, yet few know how to report such incidents to their organizations.

Sexual harassment takes different forms

In general, sexual misconduct falls into three main categories: gender harassment, unwanted sexual attention and sexual coercion. Gender harassment, defined as behaviors that convey hostility, objectification, exclusion, or second-class status, commonly occur in academic settings. Those wondering how to report sexual harassment by doctors should be on the lookout for these five behaviors:

  • Telling sexist or offensive jokes
  • Making offensive remarks about appearance or sexual activities
  • Referring to people of your gender in offensive, insulting or vulgar terms
  • Putting you down or acting condescendingly because of your gender
  • Sending offensive messages or obscene images

Women are overwhelmingly the targets of sexual harassment, but men can be victims, too. Victims are less likely to stay at their academic institutions and are less involved with their coworkers and patients they may treat.

Sexual misconduct by doctors is often underreported

When doctors perpetrate sexual misconduct, the acts often are not reported because victims mistakenly believe that no one will believe them. This mistaken notion occurs in academic settings as well as in clinical practices. However, when victims come forward to report abuse by doctors, they can help prevent abuse of others by the same individuals.

Those who have experienced sexual harassment at the hands of doctors in academic institutions can stand up to their abusers by reporting documented incidents to their organization. If the organization doesn’t take appropriate steps, victims may be able to file a civil lawsuit to hold abusers accountable for their actions.