News & Research

#MedToo: U-M Confronts Sexual Harassment

Winter 2020
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In the wake of the #MeToo movement, the U-M Medical School is being proactive in its efforts to curb sexual harassment at Michigan Medicine. Of the 2,723 Medical School faculty who completed a 20-minute online Sexual Experiences Questionnaire, 82.5% of women and 65.1% of men reported at least one incident of sexual harassment from insiders in the previous year. In addition, 64.4% of women and 44.1% of men reported harassment from patients and patients’ families.

U-M is not an outlier in terms of sexual harassment statistics, “but we happen to have investigators interested in advancing knowledge and progress in this area — and leaders willing to be brave enough to support it,” says Reshma Jagsi, M.D., D.Phil., the Newman Family Professor of Radiation Oncology, a national expert on gender equity issues in the medical profession and corresponding author of the study. “When you use this survey instrument, no organization is going to look good.”

“We have work to do,” says Carol Bradford, M.D., M.S., executive vice dean for academic affairs at the Medical School, chief academic officer for Michigan Medicine, and professor of otolaryngology-head and neck surgery. “Awareness of the issue and understanding the specifics of the issue are the first real steps in moving the needle. It takes courage.”

Several efforts are underway to improve those statistics, including a university website that makes it easier to report sexual misconduct, a mandatory online training, a daylong workshop for academic leaders, bystander training to help people speak up when they witness something uncomfort- able, new language in Patients’ Rights and Responsibilities that emphasizes respect for Michigan Medicine personnel, and a new requirement that all Michigan Medicine department chairs put forward plans to address civility and wellness. —NF


Sources: U-M Health Lab blog and the Journal of Women’s Health