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Sexual harassment a pervasive problem in health care

Sexual harassment is a more prevalent problem in some industries than in others. If you make your living working in a doctor’s office, hospital or similar environment, you may be more likely to experience it than you would otherwise. If you work in health care and are also female, you face an even higher risk of experiencing on-the-job sexual harassment, with many female doctors and medical students alike reporting experiencing this type of treatment at some point during their academic or professional career.

Just how widespread is sexual harassment in health care?

Troubling statistics

According to the Harvard Business Review, sexual harassment is so rampant in health care that about half of all female medical students say they have been victims of it. Another 30 to 70% of practicing female physicians, meanwhile, assert the same, spotlighting just how common the issue is industry-wide.

Why is it that the health care industry has such high rates of sexual harassment among females? Often, the same contributing factors make certain work environments more conducive to sexual harassment than others.

Contributing factors

A hierarchal environment is one such contributing factor. Most medical work environments have hierarchal structures in place where doctors, physician’s assistants and other highly trained medical professionals regularly work alongside others with less training and lower pay. A male-dominated environment is another factor that can make sexual harassment more common in a particular work setting, and health care has this, too. Some believe that increasing the number of women holding leadership roles in health care settings should help this, at least to some degree.

You may, too, find that your chances of experiencing on-the-job sexual harassment increase when those holding positions of power at your place of employment fail to punish harassers for their transgressions. The more human resource departments and similar authorities hold harassers accountable for their actions, the less likely you will be to experience this treatment in your place of business.

If you ever experience sexual harassment in a health care or other environment, speak out. The more attention you draw to the matter, the more likely your harasser will be to suffer appropriate consequences.

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