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Us: med students, our OB-GYN attending: blatantly misogynist...
February 25, 2013 9:14 AM   Subscribe

...and it's affecting our learning environment. Basically it's not one big thing, rather an endless pattern of small things that make it fairly unpleasant to be a female student. Only calling on male classmates in rounds/lectures, only learning the names of male students and using inappropriate nicknames for female students, making comments about female bodies (that are irrelevant to the teaching or practice of medicine), etc. He is a highly respected physician and academic, and my assumption is that the school administration will not be particularly understanding or receptive to complaints (although we have not tried this route yet). We would rather not confront him directly about this situation. What to do? (More examples inside)

Further/expanded examples of his behaviour include:
-Repeatedly calling female (and only female) students by things which are not names: "abortion girl" (his name for a student who asked if we would be receiving a lecture on abortion - the answer to which was "No"; a name which he used for an entire rotation last year), "scrub-in girl," "girl next to [boy's name]".
-Making reference to women performing oral sex that was tangentially related to class, but then perseverating on the subject for a few minutes for no discernible reason. We deserve a class that does not feel like a boys locker room.
-Asking the male students in the class (small group containing 3 male students and 1 female student) to evaluate the attractiveness of two mostly-naked women of the covers of two Obstetrics textbooks.
-Asking each male student in the room for his answer to a question, skipping over the one female student in the small group, and continuing to only ask boys, by name, to answer on a subject until someone got it right (there were only four students in the room).
-Role-playing his (OBGYN) patients by speaking in a high pitched, mocking voice, having them saying fairly dumb things.

We don't think this is intentional, or conscious, but it is pervasive and consistent, and not a conducive environment to learning. Our sense is that this is not a new issue this year, but we think it's unprofessional, and really ought to be unacceptable.

Also - this man is responsible for our evaluations. After other students complained about the "abortion girl" nickname last year (although not the student herself), he gave an introductory lecture to our clerkship group (same students, one year later) saying "If there are any problems in the rotation, please let us know early. If you have a problem with a name the doctors are calling you, tell us early and not at the end of the rotation," while staring directly at the student who had been called by that name.

We would love some input on this! We get the feeling that not everyone in the class finds his behaviour to be inappropriate. How to proceed, best practices here, even just affirmation that we're not just a few HYSTERICAL FEMALES much appreciated.
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (38 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
 
My sense is that you're not going to get anywhere talking to him, and you'll risk retaliation. I would go to the Dean as a group and ask that this be addressed between the Dean and the prof, without revealing who made the complaint.
posted by Dasein at 9:20 AM on February 25, 2013 [15 favorites]


My experience (at a US medical school, not sure where you're located) was that the school administration was VERY receptive to feedback like this-- in fact it was well known that several fairly prominent physicians had lost teaching positions or failed to get tenure secondary to creating an inappropriate learning environment. I would absolutely, and with several of your colleagues if possible, sit down with the dean of students/dean of the medical school/ombudsman or whichever person is your most direct contact. Medical schools take this sort of behavior very, very seriously-- good luck!
posted by BundleOfHers at 9:21 AM on February 25, 2013 [24 favorites]


First of all, I'm sure the male residents are just as uncomfortable (I would freaking hope so) so enlist their help as well.

If the doctor refers to you by something other than your name, politely correct him, "My name is Sally Hughes." Just keep doing it. Keep it polite, either he'll knock that shit off, or he'll be on notice.

If something inappropriate is said, "Hey, how about the knockers on that one." Speak up, "Dr., I'm sure you don't mean to imply that we should be evaluating the attractivness of our patients. Do you?" Elbow one of the dudes and have him chime in, "Yeah doc, that doesn't seem respectful."

Explain to the other male students that he's passing over the females for questions, get them to pass the question to a female student, "Oh Doc, you always ask me, Sally, you know this don't you?"

When he role-plays his patients in a disparaging way, simply say, "Oh Doctor, I'm sure you don't mean to make your patients sound silly or stupid."

It's going to suck because calling him out on his bullshit will feel like a full-time job. But if you band together with the other students, eventually, he'll stop the non-sense, or you can ALL, as a group, go and meet with HR to discuss.

You can't do it alone, but as a group you can change things!
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 9:21 AM on February 25, 2013 [12 favorites]


One of the deans or the head of his department should hear this, and presenting it as a group would be best. If it is as you describe it it may not be the first time he has been complained about. The standards for professionalism in academic medicine are evolving over time and there are often a few holdouts from previous generations that need a friendly reminder to straighten up and fly right.
posted by TedW at 9:29 AM on February 25, 2013 [3 favorites]


Send a weekly email to his superiors updating them on the latest set of offensive comments & actions. If a several of you are doing it, including some male students I hope - even through anonymized email addresses - they really will have to address it with him. (Yuck!)
posted by ThatCanadianGirl at 9:29 AM on February 25, 2013


What are your anonymous options? Such as, does your university have an ombudsman that you can talk to? An HR may also be able to give you anonymous assistance in telling this guy to knock it off.

On the other hand, there was a misogynistic professor in my department who was so good at his research that they never kicked him out, just "kept an eye on him" and waited to see if they would be sued. They never where, and the professor kept up his inappropriate behavior until he retired. I hope this doesn't happen to you, but you may just have to deal with it. Universities can be "boys clubs" with little repercussions, depending on the school/department.
posted by Shouraku at 9:30 AM on February 25, 2013 [4 favorites]


Even if he is known by reputation, nothing can change unless students come forward. I worked in an academic department with a serial harasser, but students were never willing to press forward, even though the department head wanted to charge the man. Our students were worried about repercussions, but I thought then, and think now that using the legal words--harassment, hostile working environment, etc, will force the department to take you seriously. They do not want to defend harassers. I urge you to complain.
posted by feste at 9:42 AM on February 25, 2013 [10 favorites]


Document every instance, with time/date/people present/exact phrases, if possible, and recreate it as far back as possible. Then talk to your dean or to HR. This is really unacceptable, and I hope they take it seriously.
posted by jetlagaddict at 9:49 AM on February 25, 2013 [2 favorites]


Surreptitiously tape all interactions with this overpaid jerk for a couple of weeks. Transcribe the most revolting parts of the tape, present transcriptions and tape to dean. Good luck.
posted by mareli at 9:59 AM on February 25, 2013 [2 favorites]


I wouldn't assume that the administration wouldn't be receptive until you try - definitely go to them, I would be shocked if there weren't policies in place for approaching gender-based harrassment. (Note: I work in university admin - my program director is great and would take something like this very seriously, but the politics are going to be different at different institutions.) If your admin isn't helpful, then take it to the next level up.
posted by SoftRain at 10:00 AM on February 25, 2013


I woudl not recommend the taping suggestion above, that could be illegal in multiple ways in many states. It could possibly be a violation of HIPAA if you're taping anything related to a discussion of the care of a real patient.

But I would document exactly what was said, time/date/who was present for a week or two and then go to a higher up. And enlist the support of male colleagues also.
posted by mazienh at 10:01 AM on February 25, 2013 [3 favorites]


I don't think that direct confrontation of the attending would work out very well (your instinct that it could lead to retaliation seems like a good one). Some of Ruthless Bunny's suggestions would help though: calmly correct him if he calls you an incorrect name, etc.

You should address this through your medical school. They should be very interested in this. I would recommend approaching the correct dean (as a group) with your concerns. I would also keep a contemporaneous log of these instances, which you can bring to the meeting/email to the dean.

You write that this "ought to be unacceptable": it absolutely is, and you should not have to put up with it.
posted by maryrussell at 10:02 AM on February 25, 2013 [2 favorites]


From working in the Dean's office of a health sciences program, I can say first hand that complaints from students get results. Perhaps not immediately, or even in your time in the program (especially with tenure involved), but consistent feedback on such an obviously ridiculous situation will result in some change eventually. Nothing will happen if no students speak up though.

Good advice above - speak to his department chair, the dean, and ombudsman, etc. with a formal concern. I suspect that your University has a formal policy about raising concerns about instruction. Find it and follow its steps. Your concerns will be welcomed and taken very seriously unless the whole School has similar problems as this instructor.
posted by owls at 10:02 AM on February 25, 2013 [4 favorites]


Far from being unreceptive, I'd be shocked if the administration didn't shit a brick about this. Definitely approach them, with specific examples.
posted by walla at 10:08 AM on February 25, 2013 [4 favorites]


We had an ancient Anatomy prof do this back in M1. Just about everyone in the class complained using the proper forms and nothing ever happened. Face-to-face group meetings with deans will almost certainly get you farther, especially if you keep a list of offences, dates, and times. I'm sorry to hear you have to deal with this shit, as if OB/GYN clerkship weren't taxing enough.
posted by The White Hat at 10:10 AM on February 25, 2013


Check to see if your institution has an office that deals specifically with sexual harassment. Ours does (in fact they have two; one for students and one for faculty/staff); we learned all about it at a mandatory training. If there's not a specific office for sexual harassment, you could go through student services to see where to take your complaints. Chances are your school takes this stuff a lot more seriously than you might think, even if dealing with it takes longer than you might like.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 10:11 AM on February 25, 2013 [2 favorites]


Document a week of it with recordings, make transcripts of the relevant sections, then request a meeting with the dean about a hostile learning environment. Three of you should go to the meeting, dressed smartly, with printed copies of the transcripts and a written complaint.

Shit will be fixed stat.

Don't even bother talking to him. Dickbags like this do not respond well to corrective attempts from students/inferiors. It must come from above.
posted by seanmpuckett at 10:12 AM on February 25, 2013 [4 favorites]


I'm clinical faculty at a teaching hospital. Complaints from students, especially about egregious unprofessional behavior like this, are taken very seriously. I would send a group email to your Dean of Students and give her/him these specific examples. I would do it ASAP, i.e. before evals go in.
posted by The Elusive Architeuthis at 10:13 AM on February 25, 2013 [1 favorite]


evaluate the attractiveness of two mostly-naked women of the covers of two Obstetrics textbooks

Many women have a fear of exactly this -- that a doctor cannot see their bodies without making it sexual or without evaluating it for sex appeal. So no, you are not hysterical. The attitude he exhibits, and is teaching his students, is one that actually really, truly harms women. I'm an outlier in the responses in that I'd go for the throat -- non-anonymous reporting, not bothering to getting males to back me up (seriously?), just flat out talking with his superiors and continuing to go up the chain of command until someone listens. Think about it like this: You are paying to get this education. How much does it cost you to hear him blather on? And what is the ultimate cost that's paid when female patients have their fears confirmed?
posted by Houstonian at 10:14 AM on February 25, 2013 [15 favorites]


I went to nursing school, not med school...but I can say that our school had numerous acute problems, teachers with bizarre behavior. I took it on myself to get elected president of the student council, and then realized that the chief problem was the director of our program.

At a certain point I realized that I was going to crucify myself by trying to make changes that were never going to happen. I withdrew from the council, put my head down and finished school. It was absolutely miserable.

I'm not saying that there's any relevance to your situation, but I would say be very careful in how you do things. You have a financial investment in your education that's probably really deep at this point. So don't make yourself the hero/fall guy. Just be careful. Work as a group and make sure everyone has some responsibility within the group.

I'm not saying not to try to get the grievances addressed, the guy sounds like an ass. I'm just saying to protect yourself and your investment.
posted by mockpuppet at 10:14 AM on February 25, 2013 [4 favorites]


We don't think this is intentional, or conscious,

How would one go into an unintentional tangent on oral sex?? If this were an employment-based relationship, it would be an unacceptable hostile work environment and a hell of a lawsuit.

Go straight over his head to whatever department or dean has oversight on him or his paychecks. Blow that whistle because he's way out of line.

Document everything short of taping, because there's likely some restrictions on recording lectures. Get a dedicated day planner and journal his nonsense as it happens and, as suggested above, keep updating the higher-ups until they deal with him appropriately.
posted by mibo at 10:20 AM on February 25, 2013 [1 favorite]


Are there really restrictions on recording lectures? When I was in grad school (not medical school) it was standard, and you could buy them from other students, and even transcripts of the lecture.
posted by small_ruminant at 10:30 AM on February 25, 2013


Yes, this is unacceptable, you are not out of line!

You might want to talk to people employed at your school in other professional capacities (librarians, other profs, administrators, etc.), to get ideas about other ways to complain or to get other folks on your side. Maybe you should go to the Office of Compliance instead of the Dean of Medicine, depending on how your admin structure is set up.

Plus, according to my state's anti-sexual harassment training I just completed as a professor-- if a student or coworker makes a complaint of sexual harassment on campus to me (from anyone-- student, staff, faculty, visitor), and I do nothing about it, I am personally culpable and could lose my job. I do not know the laws in your jurisdiction, but complaining to everyone you can complain to on campus might force some action to occur, or at least result in hundreds of complaints being received by the Dean or Office of Compliance or whoever receives those at your campus.

If complaining doesn't work, I'd audiotape his comments and send them to a local TV station.
posted by holyrood at 10:33 AM on February 25, 2013


I just wanted to say that even though I really want you to press your charges against this idiot, when I was in med school (~6 years ago) unfortunately I did not find the school to be receptive to such complaints and I found that even worse, those who complained could themselves be accused of "unprofessionalism". I think you have numbers on your side though and it will help if you all complain together... But based on my experience and what you say about your school and the lack of power that med students have as the absolute bottom of the totem pole, I would consider giving your feedback en masse through an anonymous means (end of clerkship evals?) if you can. And please do use all the specifics. Good luck!
posted by treehorn+bunny at 10:33 AM on February 25, 2013 [6 favorites]


Make an appointment for a group of students to speak with this guy's superior. Air the complaints. They will handle it. I worked with higher ed admin and we heard all manner of complaints all the time and dealt with them promptly. A complaint of this nature would have been taken very, very seriously.
posted by saltwater at 10:44 AM on February 25, 2013


Let me try a variation on this answer, because I see that there are a number of people in this thread insisting that the administration will be all over this situation and take tangible steps, and what you've expressed in your post is concern about the consequences if they might not. I do think that there are academic institutions that would be all over this is a heartbeat, and others that will sweep it under the rug, but the only question that matters is what will yours do. I think everyone's right, and you do need to say something, but it might help to acknowledge a few unspoken things that come to mind about the tough spot you're in.

There is a bit of a catch-22: faculty will insist that they will take the concern seriously, but you have a reasonable concern that you will in fact not be taken seriously. Because it sounds like your definition of seriously includes: students tell faculty that 'abortion girl' language is inappropriate=faculty stops all inappropriate language. That's not the connection the faculty person made, and instead engaged in some particularly ineffective "if somebody is behaving inappropriately, let someone know". But you already did, and it didn't work.

Also administrators will insist that they are receptive and will take immediate steps, yet it isn't unreasonable to assume that you aren't year one of the faculty person behaving inappropriately.. It is reasonable to assume that all those other students said nothing, and that this will be news to the administration? That is challenging to imagine. Perhaps the administration is building a case against the person. But they also might not. Tenured faculty aren't the easiest to remove, and it your faculty person is comfortable enough to talk smack so freely that they don't even know which phrases and behaviors are inappropriate, it's going to take a bit of doing to learn some new behaviors.

So basically, your worst case scenario is that you've got the least powerful person/people (students), speaking with an administration who is to some extent aware of this situation, but it's not clear that they are monitoring it, but instead are 'waiting for the next complaint' to 'build a case', or it not aware of the situation at all, but it isn't clear to you how they will respond if you do say anything. In such a situation, I think the prudent option is to gather information and make some decisions before you decide to act. You're best case scenario: you've got an awesome Dean's office, who swiftly takes appropriate steps to protect you, and address the issue with the faculty person. It doesn't sound from your post that you know which one you're dealing with.

I do think you tell, but I think you protect yourself. If you're concerned, I think you should have a conversation with campus resources rather than school resources first, to gather information. The ombudsman or whomever handles sexual harassment at your campus, because they are separate of the institution and are familiar with the university's response, and can talk you through steps and options. I think it's fair that you ask questions, to figure out if you feel it is safe to report. Use conditional phrasing, "If a student thought that a faculty person was using inappropriate language, how would you want that student to respond?" or "Can you share a little bit about resources available to students experiencing verbally offensive phrases?" or "HOW should I collect information about a faculty person's inappropriate behavior - can I tape, or can I write down times and dates....? Should a group of us present this to the administration or should we go individually? Can you talk a little bit based on your past experience about what the student(s) in for (in terms of awkwardness, etc.) in case the administration sees things differently and the student(s) still have to work with the faculty person (who evaluates us, etc.) In short, try to hold off making a formal complaint, or using names, etc., until after you feel you have enough information to be comfortable.

And if they insist that you tell them who and how, you can be candid about the fact that you aren't comfortable sharing yet, nor are you necessarily speaking for yourself, but you are gathering information.

If there is no ombuds person, and you don't have any faculty person you feel you can trust to ask these questions of, and you aren't sure about the administration, then try student health next, and get some counseling support. Because if you're going to go the tell the Dean route, you're going to need some support.

Also you personally need to decide if you are okay speaking to folks alone, or if you want fellow students to come with you. Everyone's got a different decision making process in this, from 'let's go today!' to 'let's find information first' to 'I just want to keep my head down and get through this, particularly because I'm going into OBGYN'. Just ask people what they are comfortable with, and if you have information, particularly from the ombuds, sexual harassment or student health office, you can at least help yourself and your fellow students make an informed decision.

Lastly, yes, I am sure the administration would like students to report these concerns during the rotation. All that it takes for evil to prevail is for good people to do nothing, and all that. But frankly, if you want to grit your teeth and report afterward you're off that rotation, that is a reasonable decision as well. Medical school is expensive, transferring (in the US at least) is rarely an option, reporting things like this take time, a precious commodity students have little of, and it's not clear that the administration has a track record of handling situations like this well, which makes you vulnerable.

Also, if schools wanted students to report during a rotation, then they should do a better job of articulating and addressing the very real power imbalance involved when a medical student is reliant on those faculty person's evaluations. It seems unreasonable to think that there is a faculty person who will stand by and hear that they've been accused of inappropriate behavior by several students without mounting a vigorous defense. At the very least students would be allowed to report anonymously, and there would be some discussion of how you're supposed to handle possibly still being taught by a person you've accused of inappropriate behavior. Often there just isn't. Also, while I know this behavior sounds incredibly inappropriate, it isn't clear yet that it legally meets the definition of sexual harassment. All that to say, report, but take care of yourself first, and come to your own judgment about what you want to do and when you want to do it. The Dean's office will deal. Just because I found out that you harassed students in your class last semester/quarter doesn't make you any less guilty, or me any less responsible to do anything about it.

Good luck to you guys.
posted by anitanita at 10:56 AM on February 25, 2013 [12 favorites]


I think if you can get the group to complain together, that will be your best hope of getting any movement. Go in together to the proper person or ombudsman, keep track of this nonsense and don't let this bastard rattle you.

On preview, anitanita has some great points that I was going to try to make less eloquently!
posted by amanda at 11:03 AM on February 25, 2013


Based on my experiences as a woman med student/resident in the surgical world, I think that your best bet may be to try to get through it without making waves and try to preserve your chance at a good evaluation. Changing this person's egregious behavior is going to be a long-haul affair, and a bad evaluation (his evaluation of you) may have a long lasting impact on your professional chances. Clearly he is aware that there is feedback about him, and took the aggressive response of staring at the student who he perceived was responsible while discussing the feedback. For me this is a RED FLAG that even anonymous feedback might hurt your performance evaluation and may mean the school doesn't appreciate the vulnerable situation you are in. I would not support some of the more aggressive approaches above including taping him, confronting him with your real name, etc.

I agree with treehorn+bunny to cite specifics on your anonymous end of clerkship evaluations. At my med school, the dean would have been receptive to the complaints, but there was also a big disconnect between the idealism of the dean's office and the high-stakes, pit of snakes, reality of some of the departments in the university. The student can lose a lot in these scenarios, so I would advise caution. (sadly)
posted by artdesk at 11:07 AM on February 25, 2013 [8 favorites]


Record him during lectures using your phones. Date every recording. Make an effort to sit close to him so you can get good audio. If someone asks, say you've been looking for a way to supplement your in-class notes.
posted by These Birds of a Feather at 1:02 PM on February 25, 2013


I wish I could share the opinion that directly challenging this jackass or complaining up the chain of command will eventually result in a change, but I can't. I've worked in a large, well-respected teaching hospital populated by multiple Nobel winners, and the toxicity of the environment cannot be overstated. It was the worst time of my professional life, full of passive-aggressive backstabbing and unremitting coddling of overinflated egos. Complaints to higher-ups about unprofessional behavior resulted in nothing more than, "Oh, don't take it personally, that's just her way." Abusive behavior was tolerated and therefore tacitly encouraged.

Especially in large research institutions, the physician scientists keep the machine of research, grant funding, and recognition moving, and they know it. There are no checks to their power, and they know it. Without having experienced it personally, I think it's difficult to appreciate how deeply ingrained the culture of student/resident "pimping" and humiliation is and how protected from consequences the professor-attendings are.

The best thing you can do, I think, is take this experience and use it: vow never, ever to become the kind of chief resident, attending, or professor that does this sort of thing. Promise yourself that you'll be kind to students, supportive of junior residents, respectful to nurses, and an example of good practice to your peers. Talk to your fellow students and make a pact to be better than this fool, and then do it.

When you're Dr. Awesome, on equal footing with other attendings, you'll be in a better position to challenge inappropriate behavior towards those with less power.
posted by jesourie at 2:55 PM on February 25, 2013 [6 favorites]


Your nuclear option is to go to the press (if the administration is unresponsive). You could use that as a stick to beat them with but I would advise extreme caution.
posted by orrnyereg at 3:29 PM on February 25, 2013


It pains me to think of my doctor, or any doctor really, enduring the work environment that you describe. It sounds so dehumanizing. I’ll not weigh in on when you should pursue a complaint against him except to say that I think you are clearly in the right. When you do pursue it, I think the best approach would involve both a written log of his unprofessional behavior and meeting with the Dean accompanied by other supportive students.

As far as recording him as other posters suggest, if you are in the United States you can determine whether you are in a one-party or two-party consent state here. Obviously, HIPAA is another matter which you must consider if you are working with patients. IANAL.
posted by tr0ubley at 4:25 PM on February 25, 2013


Your school probably does have a policy relating to this, and you'll need to follow the steps outlined in that policy in order to have a chance of getting anywhere. It's probably under the label "harrassment" or "grievance procedures" or "discrimination". At our institution, for example, the first step in this instance is to talk to the person directly, explain the issue, and ask him to stop. Until you have done that (and I totally get why you are afraid to), you can't escalate.

If your school also requires you to address his behaviour with him directly, I think your best option is to do it as a large group, including the men. Or at least as a representative group if there are too many in your class for you to feasibly approach him all together. Unfortunately for you, you might be better off if the spokesperson in such a group is male (since this sort of misogynistic jerkwad is more likely to listen to a man, and less likely to retaliate). Hopefully one of your male peers is equally horrified by this behaviour and willing to take that role on.

Of course, it's possible that your school does not require you to address the behaviour with him first, and that you can make an anonymous complaint instead. But you really need to find out if there is a relevant policy and what it is. HR probably knows.
posted by lollusc at 4:57 PM on February 25, 2013


Document, document, document. Take your transcripts and a written complaint as high as you possibly can. Have everyone, male and female, who is behind you on this sign a complaint. Can you find any graduates who would be willing to state they also faced this type of harassment and who would be willing to say they do not recommend this school to future students because of it? Hit 'em in the pocket book, then they'll pay attention. If worse comes to worse, get your degrees, then go to the press with documentation.
posted by BlueHorse at 6:17 PM on February 25, 2013 [1 favorite]


I work at a university, although not with the medical school specifically. I am not an administrator or professor, but in my role I occasionally get looped in to sensitive issues like this.

You need to speak to either the department chair or the dean's office. Document everything before your meeting. The more people, the more mixed the genders, the better your case, but even a single female student would get a hearing--you are giving them the opportunity to address this before someone sues or goes to the media or posts something online. Believe me, they don't want that to happen.

Chances are the dean is not entirely unaware of the professor's reputation, but may not have realized how out of hand it's become. Don't make it accusatory--make it a heads up, but a serious one. You don't need to threaten.

It is extremely unlikely that the administration will be unresponsive, because a male OB/GYN being sexually inappropriate is a huge liability, especially if he is still seeing patients. (Any doctor being sexually inappropriate is bad news to the administration, but an OB/GYN especially.)
posted by elizeh at 6:54 PM on February 25, 2013 [1 favorite]


Can I speak for your future patients? I would not want this jerk being my doctor. I definitely would not want his behavior to be emulated by the members of your class who are getting the idea that belittling the gender in which his practice and knowledge is based upon is a swell idea. What else are you internalizing besides that being sexist, cruel and bullying pays off?

If you want to take him down then you are going to have to plan and be patient. If it means gathering all the information and biding your time until after evals then do it. Only reply back to correct him if it serves your long term purpose of demonstrating his bullying for your documentation. Never interfere in your enemy's self-inflicted wounding. The plan is to research, outline a strategy, structure your campaign and then execute. Also, be aware that some of your classmates may agree with him and think being an asshole a la House is GREAT; watch your back if you are gathering a group.
posted by jadepearl at 6:28 AM on February 26, 2013


Coming back in to recommend this article, How to Swim with Sharks, which is a classic about survival in the cut-throat culture of biomedical research, but it applies fully to dealing with malignant attendings/departments in medicine. I enjoyed reading it because it's funny, and it helped me feel that I was not alone.

Feel free to meMail me if you want.
posted by artdesk at 10:37 AM on February 26, 2013


Some other things to think about, or to know the answer to when/if you start a complaint:

Does he act this way in front of patients, or is he respectful in their presence and just inappropriate with the med students?

Do the male students agree that he is being inappropriate? Are they uncomfortable or do they agree with his behaviors?

I would keep the records even if you decide to just get through with your head down. How awesome would it be to present to the dean a 10-page list of 100s of documented incidents as you are walking out the door to your next fabulous posting. Get other students to do the same, including the students in the next year and the one after that. Make it a thing for each incoming class - we do our work and put up with it, but we let the head honchos know at the end when he can't hurt our future. And if anyone asks us to recommend this program, we tell the truth.

Other than just complaining, what exactly do you want to happen? For example, if he gets rid of the gender bias and starts calling ALL the students inappropriate names, would that satisfy? I suspect this is what happened with the "abortion-girl" complaint - the desired result was not spelled out (don't use inappropriate names for students) , so he made his own result which was to say that if you don't like something, you should speak up sooner. I don't think you can take your awesome 10-page list and make a specific desired result for each individual incident, but you might put some thought into a list of the categories of complaints and then be specific about what you want the change to look like.
posted by CathyG at 1:14 PM on February 26, 2013


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