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It Is Time for Zero Tolerance for Sexual Harassment in Academic Medicine

Bates, Carol, K., MD; Jagsi, Reshma, MD, DPhil; Gordon, Lynn, K., MD, PhD; Travis, Elizabeth, PhD; Chatterjee, Archana, MD, PhD; Gillis, Marin, PhD, LPh; Means, Olivia; Chaudron, Linda, MD; Ganetzky, Rebecca, MD; Gulati, Martha, MD; Fivush, Barbara, MD; Sharma, Poonam, MBBS; Grover, Amelia, MD; Lautenberger, Diana, MA; Flotte, Terence, R., MD

doi: 10.1097/ACM.0000000000002050

While more women are in leadership positions in academic medicine now than ever before in U.S. history, evidence from recent surveys of women and graduating medical students demonstrates that sexual harassment continues in academic health centers. Academic medicine’s ability to change its culture is hampered by victims’ fear of reporting episodes of harassment, which is largely due to fear of retaliation. In this Perspective, the authors describe efforts in scientific societies to address the issue of sexual harassment and to begin to establish safe environments at national meetings. The authors contend that each institution must work to make it safe for individuals to come forward, to provide training for victims and for bystanders, and to abolish “locker room” talk that is demeaning to women.

C.K. Bates is associate dean for faculty affairs and associate professor of medicine, Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts.

R. Jagsi is professor and deputy chair, Department of Radiation Oncology, University of Michigan Medical School, Ann Arbor, Michigan; ORCID:

L.K. Gordon is senior associate dean of diversity affairs and professor of ophthalmology, David Geffen School of Medicine, University of California, Los Angeles, Los Angeles, California.

E. Travis is associate vice president of women and minority faculty inclusion and professor, Department of Experimental Radiation Oncology, University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, Texas.

A. Chatterjee is professor and chair, Department of Pediatrics, and senior associate dean of faculty development, University of South Dakota Sanford School of Medicine, Sioux Falls, South Dakota.

M. Gillis is professor, chief of division, and director of faculty advancement, Department of Humanities, Health, and Society, Herbert Wertheim College of Medicine, Florida International University, Miami, Florida.

O. Means is a medical student, University of South Alabama College of Medicine, Mobile, Alabama.

L. Chaudron is professor of psychiatry, pediatrics, and obstetrics and gynecology and associate vice president and senior associate dean for inclusion and culture development, University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry, Rochester, New York.

R. Ganetzky is an attending physician, Mitochondrial Medicine Center, Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

M. Gulati is professor of medicine and chief of cardiology, University of Arizona, Phoenix, Arizona.

B. Fivush is associate dean for women in science and medicine and professor of pediatrics, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore, Maryland.

P. Sharma is professor and chair, Department of Pathology, Creighton University School of Medicine and CHI Health, Omaha, Nebraska.

A. Grover is associate professor of surgery, Surgical Oncology, Virginia Commonwealth University Health, Richmond, Virginia.

D. Lautenberger is director, Constituent Engagement, Women in Medicine and Science and Diversity and Inclusion, Association of American Medical Colleges, Washington, DC.

T.R. Flotte is dean, School of Medicine, provost and executive deputy chancellor, and Celia and Isaac Haidak Professor of Medical Education, University of Massachusetts, Worcester, Massachusetts.

An AM Rounds blog post on this article is available at

Funding/Support: None reported.

Other disclosures: None reported.

Ethical approval: Reported as not applicable.

Disclaimer: This Perspective represents the work of the authors and is not a policy statement of the Association of American Medical Colleges.

Previous presentations: The Group on Women in Medicine and Science of the Association of American Medical Colleges sponsored a related session on sexual harassment in academic medicine at the AAMC’s annual Learn Serve Lead Meeting (November 2016; Seattle, Washington).

Correspondence should be addressed to Carol K. Bates, Harvard Medical School, 25 Shattuck St., Gordon Hall, Suite 206, Boston, MA 02115; telephone: (617) 432-1165; e-mail: Twitter correspondent Marin Gillis: @synderetic.

© 2018 by the Association of American Medical Colleges