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Surgeon puts spotlight on sexual harassment in the medical profession

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HC Online | 10 Mar 2015, 09:00 AM Agree 0
One prominent female surgeon’s controversial comments recently led to several women coming forward about their experiences of sexual harassment within the medical sector.
  • Bernie Althofer | 10 Mar 2015, 05:16 PM Agree 0
    The comments made by the vascular surgeon may reflect her understanding or perception about the realities of what she has seen, experienced or has had relayed to her.

    However, No means No.

    In a time when so many people are starting to understand and acknowledge the physical, psychological and financial benefits of ensuring that everyone in a workplace is treated with dignity and respect, it is disappointing to find that even some professional bodies or associations of people still believe that it is acceptable to demean others. It is not even acceptable to prevent a worker from advancement because they failed to submit to either covert or overt counterproductive behaviours that in this day and age, the wider community appears to find offensive.

    It is problematic for those organisations where isolated incidents do occur but become known about, and are held up as being reflective of the entire organisation.

    It seems that whilst many at middle and lower levels are taking a stance about such behaviours, the real change has to be supported and lead by the senior people. When senior managers appear as dismissive or even accepting of a culture or workplace practices where sexual harassment (and other counterproductive behaviours) are condoned to the point of acceptance, those in an unequal power relationship find themselves engaged in practices or behaviours required to 'survive'. It seems that there needs to be a strong and vigorous discussion about the moral compass that guides everyone when it comes to counterproductive behaviours.

    As has been discussed in a number of forums, encouragement and support has to be provided to the silent 'majority', that is those who see and hear what is happening to those being abused, so that the silent majority actually become active.

    In this day and age when it does appear that work health and safety laws do in some situations include sexual harassment, managers and workers at all levels need to understand and acknowledge the obligations and liabilities involved. Given the risky nature of counterproductive behaviours, managers and workers should not discount the possibility of being drawn into litigation.
  • Ronnie | 10 Mar 2015, 07:01 PM Agree 0
    Everything written above is excellent however written for a perfect world and yes we should be appalled by what was said by Ms McMullin's comments however she is right. Careers are at risk if you make a complaint. Not only in the Medical industry however, try making a complaint in the male dominated mining industry of bullying and you will not get work again anywhere in the industry as a senior Manager. I think a lot of traditionally male dominated industries hold that risk. We are not respected for standing up for ourselves in these type of industries we are regarded as threatening and best disposed of. Other females who worked alongside you are quite likely to turn against you rather than lose their positions and give evidence against you. So while I don't support rolling over and taking or accepting the behaviour, Ms McMullins is telling it like it can be and I applaud that, because it is not a perfect world and as well as knowing the law you should be told the risk as well. I speak from experience.
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