Gender Discrimination and Sexual Harassment in a Department of Pediatrics

Pediatrics. 2022 Dec 1;150(6):e2021055933. doi: 10.1542/peds.2021-055933.


The last substantial description of gender discrimination and harassment described in the journal Pediatrics was in 2019. It is unclear whether the field has made progress toward its goal of equity. We aimed to describe: (1) the recent gender-equity climate according to women and men faculty in the department of pediatrics at a single, large academic center, and (2) institutional efforts to address persistent gender discrimination and harassment. In late 2020, we distributed an anonymous survey to all department faculty that included demographic data, a modified version of the Overt Gender Discrimination at Work Scale, questions about experiences/witnessed discriminatory treatment and sexual harassment, and if those experiences negatively affected career advancement. Of 524 pediatrics faculty, 290 (55%) responded. Compared with men, women more commonly reported gender discrimination (50% vs. 4%, P < .01) and that their gender negatively affected their career advancement (50% vs 9%, P < .01). More than 50% of women reported discriminatory treatment at least annually and 38% recognized specific sexist statements; only 4% and 17% of men reported the same (P < .01 for both). We concluded that a disproportionately low number of male faculty recognized the harassment female faculty experienced. In the 18 months since, our department and university have made efforts to improve salary equity and parity in leadership representation, created an anonymous bias-reporting portal, mandated bias training, and implemented new benchmarks of "professionalism" that focus on diversity. Although we acknowledge that culture change will take time, we hope our lessons learned help promote gender equity in pediatrics more broadly.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Child
  • Faculty
  • Female
  • Gender Equity
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Pediatrics*
  • Pregnancy
  • Sexism
  • Sexual Harassment*