| 12°C Dublin

Irish educated surgeon under fire for advising young female doctors to stay silent on sexual abuse

Close

Dr Gabrielle McMullin. Photo: www.leadershipforwomen.com.au

Dr Gabrielle McMullin. Photo: www.leadershipforwomen.com.au

A study has found that cholesterol-lowering statin drugs can significantly reduce the risk of dying during a heart bypass operation

A study has found that cholesterol-lowering statin drugs can significantly reduce the risk of dying during a heart bypass operation

/

Dr Gabrielle McMullin. Photo: www.leadershipforwomen.com.au

A Trinity educated surgeon​​ has hit back at criticism of her advice to female doctors not to report sexual abuse from fellow colleagues.

Dr Gabrielle McMullin, a Sydney-based vascular surgeon, stands by her recommendation that young surgical trainees should stay silent and accept unwanted sexual advances.

Speaking in a radio interview with ABC on Friday, Dr McMullin said that sexism in the field is so rife in Australia that coming forward could ruin the careers of these young women.

Her opinions have prompted strong reaction from several sex abuse and domestic violence advocacy groups, who have deemed her comments "appalling and irresponsible".

"I would have thought highly trained professionals would be able to operate a better system than that," said a spokeswoman for Victoria's Centre Against Sexual Assault.

"I actually don't think that's acceptable advice in this day and age."

Chief executive of Domestic Violence Victoria Fiona McCormack also spoke out against the views of the Irish educated surgeon.

"It's a sad indictment on us and the community when this is what women are being advised to do to benefit their career," she said.

However, Dr McMullin, who moved to Australia in 1990, met the criticism with surprise saying the advise came from her "frustration with what is going on".

"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," she said.

In the ABC interview, Dr McMullin referred to the 2008 case of Dr Caroline Tan who won a sexual harassment case while training as a surgeon in a Melbourne hospital but has never been able to find work at a public hospital in Australasia since.

"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," Dr McMullin said in the radio interview.

The Royal Australasian College of Surgeons released a brief statement saying there were strict measures in place to deal with harassment and abuse of any kind.

"The College actively encourages Trainees and Fellows to come forward in confidence with any such allegations, which will be thoroughly investigated," a spokesman said.

Online Editors