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J Womens Health (Larchmt). 2007 Jul-Aug;16(6):883-94.

Generation to generation: discrimination and harassment experiences of physician mothers and their physician daughters.

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Department of Psychiatry, George Washington University, Washington, DC 20009-2521, USA.



To examine bias and sexual harassment experiences of physician mothers and their physician daughters; correlations of these experiences with career satisfaction, stress at work, stress at home, and percentage of women in specialty; and influences of the mother on her daughter's experiences.


A convenience sample of 214 families with mother and daughter physicians was sent a 56-item survey that included questions on bias and sexual harassment experiences. Statistical comparisons were made within 136 dyads where both mother and daughter returned the questionnaire.


Eighty-four percent of mothers and 87% of daughters responded. Mothers and daughters reported similarly high rates and severity of sexual harassment before medical school, while in residency/fellowship, while in practice/work setting, and by teachers and supervisors. Daughters reported higher rates of harassment during medical school and by patients, mothers by colleagues. Gender and racial/ethnic discrimination was lower for daughters compared with their mothers, but gender discrimination was still substantial. Compared with other daughters, daughters who experienced discrimination or sexual harassment reported lower career satisfaction and more stress at work and at home and worked in specialties with fewer women.


Gender discrimination and sexual harassment remain entrenched in medical education and professional workplaces. Maternal role models and mentors were not as protective as anticipated. Leadership of medical institutions and professional associations must deal more effectively with persistent discrimination and harassment or risk the loss of future leaders.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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