New survey highlights suspected financial impact

CHICAGO – Gynecologic oncologists report that they are often targets of sexual harassment – and it happened to the majority of men and women, researchers reported.

About 71% of women oncologists and 51% of men said that sometime in their career they encountered sexual harassment, according to a survey analyzed by Marina Stasenko, MD, a fellow in gynecologic oncology at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, New York.

“Our study found that, in this population, experiences of sexual harassment were common and were reported by both genders,” she said at the 55th annual meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology. “Of concern is that more aggressive sexual harassing behaviors were frequently reported. Unfortunately, very few respondents reported the harassing behaviors.”

She said that 14.5% of the participants in the survey who experienced harassment reported the incidents. The most common reasons for lack of reporting were that the incident did not seem important enough to report; the person did not think anything would be done about it; the person was concerned about fear of reprisal; and many people said they just didn’t know where to file a complaint.

Stasenko and colleagues sent questionnaires about their experiences regarding sexual harassment in the workplace to 1,566 members of the Society of Gynecologic Oncologists in September, 2018 and received 402 replies – about a 26% return rate.

She acknowledged that a limitation of the study is the possibility of selection bias in that individuals who were harassed might be more likely to respond to the survey.

In commenting on the study, Merry-Jennifer Markham, MD, associate director for medical affairs at the University of Florida Cancer Center, Gainesville, said, “I think we all know that sexual harassment is a societal issue. I think it is important that we are having these conversations. The only way we can move forward is to continue to have discussions about sex. The ultimate goal should be equality in the workplace.”

In her study, Stasenko said 255 women and 147 men responded to the survey. She also asked if gender impacted economic issues. She reported that 36% of women and 81% of men said they felt that gender played no role in determining salary levels (P<0.001), and that 57% of women and 91% of men said they felt their income was on a par with colleagues with similar experience but different sex.



Stasenko disclosed no relevant relationships with industry.

Markham disclosed relevant relationships with Aduro Biotech, Lilly, and Tesaro.



Stasenko M, et al “Survey of sexual harassment and gender disparities among gynecologic oncologists,” ASCO 2019;LBA10502.


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