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Sexual and gender-related harassment in medical education and research training: results from a Swedish survey

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Objective 

The aims of this study were to establish the level of perceived sexual and gender-related harassment in undergraduate and doctoral studies, in which environment the events occurred, which categories of persons had committed the harassment, and other aspects of sexual harassment at the Faculty of Medicine, Gothenburg University. Methods 

A questionnaire was distributed to all registered male and female undergraduate students (n= 605) and doctoral students (n=743) by mail to their home addresses. Results 

The response rate was 62% (840/1348). Of the total study population, 59% (495/840) of respondents reported at least one experience of derogatory jokes and comments, 54% (454/840) of respondents reported at least one experience of gender-related discrimination, and 22% (187/840) of respondents reported at least one incident of sexual harassment. More severe types of sexual harassment were reported by 9% (79/840) of respondents. Women, and especially undergraduate women, were more often exposed to all kinds of harassment than were men. Lecturers/professors, doctors and co-students were the categories most often identified as the harassers. The harassment mostly occurred during lectures, clinical work and coffee breaks. The most common types of self-perceived mistreatment were derogatory jokes and comments. Conclusion 

This survey shows that sexual harassment happens to both men and women, although it is more commonly experienced by female undergraduate and doctoral students, and that it occurs in both the university and hospital environments. Universities should develop action plans to prevent such events. Students and teachers should be well informed about appropriate measures to take in situations where harassment is known or suspected to occur.
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Keywords: *prejudice; *sexual harassment; Sweden; education, medical, undergraduate/*standards; men/education/ psychology; women/education/psychology

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Department of Social Medicine, Gothenburg University, Sweden

Publication date: 01 January 2003

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