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Health (London). 2004 Jan;8(1):101-27.

'Am I being over-sensitive?' Women's experience of sexual harassment during medical training.

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  • 1Department of Sociology, Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland, OH 44106-7124, USA.


Despite larger numbers of women in medicine and strong statements against gender discrimination in written policies and the medical literature, sexual harassment persists in medical training. This study examines the everyday lives of women and men resident physicians to understand the context within which harassment unfolds. The narratives explored here reveal how attention is deflected from the problem of sexual harassment through a focus on women's 'sensitivity'. Women resist by refusing to name sexual harassment as problematic, and by defining sexual harassment as 'small stuff' in the context of a rigorous training program. Ultimately, both tactics of resistance fail. Closer examination of the relations shaping everyday actions is key, as is viewing the rigid hierarchy of authority and power in medical training through a gender lens. I conclude with a discussion of how reforms in medical education must tend to the gendered, everyday realities of women and men in training.

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