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Surgeon tells female trainees it's best for their careers to comply with sexual advances

The Trinity educated surgeon said she made the comments out of frustration with the system and to expose what’s happening.
Mar 9th 2015, 9:25 AM 23,818 58

A SURGEON EDUCATED at Trinity College has been criticised over comments she made on Australian radio about sexual harassment in her field of work.

Dr Gabrielle McMullin told ABC on Friday that sexism is commonplace in medicine and gave an example of a neurosurgeon whose career was destroyed after she complained about sexual harassment by a superior.

“Her career was ruined by this one guy asking for sex on this night. And, realistically, she would have been much better to have given him a blow job on that night,” she said.

“The worst thing you could possibly do is to complain to the supervising body, because then, as in Caroline’s position, you can be sure that you will never be appointed to a major public hospital.”

She said sexual harrassment in hospitals in Australia is rife and her advice to her female trainees is not to complain but to go along with it instead.

What I tell my trainees is that, if you are approached for sex, probably the safest thing to do in terms of your career is to comply with the request.

She has faced criticism for her remarks, with the President of the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons saying it was “appalling” for her to suggest young women should accept unwanted sexual advances from superiors, the Sydney Morning Herald reported.

“The inference is that this is what successful female surgeons and trainees have done in the past and this is deeply insulting,” Professor Michael Grigg said.

Chief executive of Domestic Violence Victoria, Fiona McCormak described the comments as “a sad indictment on us and the community”.

The surgeon has hit back at the criticism, however, claiming she made the statements out of frustration at the way the system works.

“All the phone calls that I have received since are from women saying, ‘Yes, thank you’. It’s been hidden and suppressed for so long and it’s only when it comes out in the open that you can do something about it. So, I guess this is my attempt to air it.”

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Michelle Hennessy


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