On Thursday October 4, I had the opportunity to attend an important event sponsored by the Department of Surgery entitled “Career Advancement in Surgery: Focus on Issues of Gender”. This event featured several powerful speakers including Dr. Gillian Hawker, Chair of the Department of Medicine and Dr. Nancy Baxter from St. Michael’s Hospital.
Several crucial issues were discussed including gender discrepancy in surgery (well over 50% of the medical school class is female, whereas only 20-30% of faculty and residents in surgery are female), discrepancies in academic promotion in women, and sexual harassment. The last topic was particularly concerning, as the results of an anonymous survey within the Department revealed that this issue still exists today.
I would like to make it very clear that any form of harassment, and in particular sexual harassment, will not be tolerated in our division. We all have the right to a safe work environment that is free from harassment and abuse. The Faculty of Medicine policy on sexual harassment can be found here:
I know that there are many reasons for women not to report harassment, including fear that no steps will be taken to support them and negative implications for their career. I would like to assure the women in our division, down to the medical student level, that their voices will be heard if they come forward. I will meet with anyone confidentially who wishes to discuss their concerns.
I hope you will all join me in ensuring we have a safe and welcoming environment for all of our students and faculty.
Peter C. Ferguson MD MSc FRCSC FAOA
Albert and Temmy Latner Chair,
Division of Orthopaedics, Department of Surgery
University of Toronto