independent

Saturday 17 August 2019

Doctor's comments are a danger to women

Deborah Coleman.
Deborah Coleman.

By Deborah Coleman

A leading Australian heart surgeon who trained in Trinity College has come under fire this week for her advice to her students.

According to Dr Gabrielle McMullin young female doctors should avoid reporting sexual harassment if they want to progress in their careers.

She this week defended her comments further and referred to a case where she suggested that the victim would have been better to perform a sex act on the person harassing her than to report him.

Dr McMullin's reckoning is that women who are seen to complain about such behaviour in the workplace never progress and that standing up for themselves is likely to hinder their careers in the long term.

I really don't understand how an educated and respected woman can dispense such dangerous advice to younger medics.

Regardless of what line of work one is in, nobody, male or female should ever have to put up with sexual harassment from a colleague, much less ignore it.

It is advice like this that will allow the sexist workplace environments that Dr McMullin criticises so vehemently to flourish.

Would someone of her standing not be better placed to empower the next generation of young doctors to be confident and strong to the point where being violated in such a manner would be addressed and clamped down on before it is allowed to get out of hand. If, as she claims, the sexism in the medical profession in Australia is so prominent women like her are needed to try and stamp it out and change things for the better.

Her comments only serve to let predators know they can do whatever they like without fear of the law or damage to their careers.

I don't know any woman who would be happy to accept such physical and emotional violation for the sake of their career, and anyway it should never come down to a choice between preserving one's career or dignity and personal safety. Everyone has the right to a safe and secure workplace and colleagues should be the last people to fear.

It was highly irresponsible of Dr McMullin to share such a damaging view which could exacerbate the situation which she is already critical of. She might think she is helping the safeguard the opportunities of women in the medical world but she has only put them at more risk than ever.

Wexford People

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