#MeToo in EM: A Multicenter Survey of Academic Emergency Medicine Faculty on Their Experiences with Gender Discrimination and Sexual Harassment

Document Type


Publication Date



Emergency Medicine, Medical Education

Journal Title

The Western Journal of Emergency Medicine

MeSH Headings

Adult; Cross-Sectional Studies; Emergency Medicine (education); Faculty; Female; Humans; Male; Physicians, Women (ethics, psychology); Sexism (prevention & control, psychology, statistics & numerical data); Sexual Harassment (prevention & control, psychology, statistics & numerical data); Surveys and Questionnaires; United States; Workplace


INTRODUCTION: Gender-based discrimination and sexual harassment of female physicians are well documented. The #MeToo movement has brought renewed attention to these problems. This study examined academic emergency physicians' experiences with workplace gender discrimination and sexual harassment. METHODS: We conducted a cross-sectional survey of a convenience sample of emergency medicine (EM) faculty across six programs. Survey items included the following: the Overt Gender Discrimination at Work (OGDW) Scale; the frequency and source of experienced and observed discrimination; and whether subjects had encountered unwanted sexual behaviors by a work superior or colleague in their careers. For the latter question, we asked subjects to characterize the behaviors and whether those experiences had a negative effect on their self-confidence and career advancement. We made group comparisons using t-tests or chi-square analyses, and evaluated relationships between gender and physicians' experiences using correlation analyses. RESULTS: A total of 141 out of 352 (40.1%) subjects completed at least a portion of the survey. Women reported higher mean OGDW scores than men (15.4 vs 10.2; 95% confidence interval [CI], 3.6-6.8). Female faculty were also more likely to report having experienced gender-based discriminatory treatment than male faculty (62.7% vs 12.5%; 95% CI, 35.1%-65.4%), although male and female faculty were equally likely to report having observed gender-based discriminatory treatment of another physician (64.7% vs 56.3%; 95% CI, 8.6%-25.5%). The three most frequent sources of experienced or observed gender-based discriminatory treatment were patients, consulting or admitting physicians, and nursing staff. The majority of women reported having encountered unwanted sexual behaviors in their careers, with a significantly greater proportion of women reporting them compared to men (52.9% vs 26.2%, 95% CI, 9.9%-43.4%). The majority of unwanted behaviors were sexist remarks and sexual advances. Of those respondents who encountered these unwanted behaviors, 22.9% and 12.5% reported at least somewhat negative effects on their self-confidence and career advancement. CONCLUSION: Female EM faculty perceived more gender-based discrimination in their workplaces than their male counterparts. The majority of female and approximately a quarter of male EM faculty encountered unwanted sexual behaviors in their careers.

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