Sexual harassment in the veterinary academic environment

Carolynn T. MacAllister Department of Veterinary Clinical Sciences, College of Veterinary Medicine, Oklahoma State University, Stillwater, OK 74078.

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MaryAnn Guglick Department of Medicine & Surgery, School of Veterinary Science, Onderstepoort 0110, Republic of South Africa.

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Joanna Dale 2355 W 16th Ave,Vancouver, BC V6K 3B5, Canada.

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Abstract

Objective—To survey faculty and house officers of clinical departments of colleges of veterinary medicine (CVM) to identify characteristics of sexual harassment (SH) in the veterinary academic environment, to report the opinions of survey respondents on how SH is being handled, and to determine how the process can be improved at veterinary academic institutions.

Procedure—On the basis of lists obtained from 25 CVM, a survey was mailed to 1,294 academic veterinarians. Four hundred seventy-eight completed surveys were returned.

Results—The prevalence of SH in the population of respondents was 31%. Nonphysical forms of SH were reported 6 times as often as physical forms of harassment, with the most common type reported being offensive sexual comments and unwanted attention. Fear of reprisal was the most prevalent reason cited by respondents for not confronting the harasser. Survey respondents rated the following as very important to improve the system of dealing with SH at their academic institution: guarantee of protection from retaliation, assurance of confidentiality, clear explanation of what will happen to you, and a clearer definition of SH.

Conclusion—A clear definition of SH is the first step in preventing SH. Other cited steps include professional development programs to educate the academic population as to what constitutes SH, inform the entire academic population what the institution's SH policy is, and enforce this policy with sensitivity, fairness, confidentiality, and quick resolve to protect the victim. (J Am Vet Med Assoc 2000;216:1406–1409)

Abstract

Objective—To survey faculty and house officers of clinical departments of colleges of veterinary medicine (CVM) to identify characteristics of sexual harassment (SH) in the veterinary academic environment, to report the opinions of survey respondents on how SH is being handled, and to determine how the process can be improved at veterinary academic institutions.

Procedure—On the basis of lists obtained from 25 CVM, a survey was mailed to 1,294 academic veterinarians. Four hundred seventy-eight completed surveys were returned.

Results—The prevalence of SH in the population of respondents was 31%. Nonphysical forms of SH were reported 6 times as often as physical forms of harassment, with the most common type reported being offensive sexual comments and unwanted attention. Fear of reprisal was the most prevalent reason cited by respondents for not confronting the harasser. Survey respondents rated the following as very important to improve the system of dealing with SH at their academic institution: guarantee of protection from retaliation, assurance of confidentiality, clear explanation of what will happen to you, and a clearer definition of SH.

Conclusion—A clear definition of SH is the first step in preventing SH. Other cited steps include professional development programs to educate the academic population as to what constitutes SH, inform the entire academic population what the institution's SH policy is, and enforce this policy with sensitivity, fairness, confidentiality, and quick resolve to protect the victim. (J Am Vet Med Assoc 2000;216:1406–1409)

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