In my nearly 20 years working in healthcare staffing at CompHealth I have never once felt that my gender played a role in my success, how much I was paid, or if it determined whether I would face any sort of harassment at work.
It is for this reason that it was so troubling to me that a recent survey our company issued on women in medicine discovered that women receive less respect, less pay, have lower opportunities for advancement, and are harassed more than men. In addition, the survey also found that both men and women feel that the medical industry has an issue with harassment. Women were also more likely to leave the field because of harassment.
Different perceptions between men and women
The survey revealed a difference in perceptions between female and male physicians. Here are some of the top findings:
· Only 12% of women reported having never dealt with some form of sexual harassment versus 38% of men.
· Women are also more likely to experience discrimination, insubordination, retaliation, physical violence, and sexual harassment than men.
· 69% of men felt that women and men were respected equally in their organizations compared to just 34% of women who agreed.
· 63% of women felt that men were more respected than women.
· 87% of women feel patients treat them differently than men while only 58% of men feel they are treated differently. Similar numbers were found when looking at treatment by nurses, administration, other physicians and other staff.
· 70% of men feel opportunities for their gender are the same as for women, while just 49% of women feel the same.
Gender shouldn’t play role in how one is treated
I find it extremely disheartening that in 2019 women are still dealing with these types of issues in any workplace, much less in an industry that is focused on the care and healing of our fellow beings. The fact that harassment and receiving a lack of respect is a regular part of many female physician’s lives is extremely sad. Simply being a woman should not make either of those things okay.
So, what do we do about it? Making changes on this level starts with those responsible for leadership, hiring, and the culture of an organization. The example of people in those positions sets the stage for the rest of the company. If they ignore the problem or feel the problems don’t exist, then nothing will ever change.
However, it is not just up to the C-suite to solve these problems. Every single employee within an organization can create changes that make the workplace more welcoming to women. Look at your own behavior and actions to ensure you aren’t doing anything to place female coworkers in a subservient role. Also, if you see someone being disrespected or harassed, say something. There should be no place in a work environment for that type of behavior. If getting directly involved is outside of your comfort zone, you can still report the behavior to your human resources department. Certainly, don’t go along with something or write it off as being “the way things are.”
More women are involved in medicine today
On the positive side, there are now more women being accepted to med school than men. If that trend holds, we will see natural changes to the healthcare landscape as female physicians become more prevalent. While the survey results are disappointing, things do appear to be getting better. Those of us working in healthcare today can keep the improvements coming by encouraging the women we work with, striving for equity, and treating everyone with more respect. I hope someday all women will have the same experience I have had in my career. One where your gender doesn’t determine what you do, how your paid, or how you are treated.
Lisa Grabl is the president of CompHealth.