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Medical Is overcoming sexual harassment in the workplace appropriate for an adversity/challenges secondary essay?

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Oct 14, 2011
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To keep things brief, I recently had a conversation with my boss to discuss several inappropriate interactions I have had with a female coworker over the past year with whom I had zero romantic relations. I had mulled over this for quite a while before finally bringing it to management's attention who agreed that from my perspective that I had experienced blatant sexual harassment. At this time, I'm glad it's off my chest, and I learned a lot about the perspective of being a victim and what goes through one's mind when they choose not to report for some time.

In the essay, I would leave out the sultry details. At most, I would say that I received inappropriate texts and an inappropriate gift at work on Valentine's Day from a coworker. I would be focusing heavily on what I felt as a victim, what I learned from being a victim, and how I developed the courage to stand up for myself.

Thoughts?
How did this adversely affect your education, access to health care, or promotion within the workplace? What options were you able to take advantage of in addressing this issue?
 
Oct 14, 2011
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I would not say that it directly affected my education or access to healthcare. I would say, however, that this is an AmeriCorps position so there is an education stipend rewarded for completing the full length of service. I was hesitant in stepping forward because of concerns over being labeled as the person who couldn't take a joke and possibly sewing divides in my program, and I was reluctant to (and will not) leave the program because it was otherwise a meaningful experience and I would be surrendering my education stipend. In that sense, my access to further education via the stipend was at some degree of risk because leaving the program had become an option I contemplated as an escape.

I took advantage of an informal consultation offered through AmeriCorps with my supervisor after referencing my program manual, and I was able to discuss the issues and provide evidence I had compiled without escalating to a formal complaint and investigation (the decision not to escalate was my choice, but I have the option to do so at any time). Additionally, I used a confidential telephone counseling service offered by the program to discuss strategies for confronting my harasser and articulating why the victim blaming they conducted was also inappropriate.

Thank you for your awesome answer.

My opinion: this definitely addresses a group of questions that I would expect could be asked of you regarding challenges you have had to overcome in general, or on difficulties you have had when working with others. I do NOT think this would be what readers want when it comes to the "disadvantaged"/diversity essay which is more about lacking access to resources (food, education, finances) which could provide context to an overall academic record. At least this response you provided assures me you understand some of the challenges with feeling excluded or harassed, and this resilience and knowledge of "the system" will help you going forward as well as be an advocate for others experiencing such harassment. To me, this is a huge plus.

I also will note that health care is also full of bad apples that can also mistreat you whether you're a student, an attending, or a hospital physician in a similar manner.
 
Oct 14, 2011
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Would it be inadvisable to discuss this situation in an optional essay? And by optional, I mean the completely open ended ones like SLU's: "Do you wish to include any comments, other than your AMCAS personal statement, to the Admissions Committee?" My plan would be to rearrange the essay to focus more on the strengths I developed from the situation, but I'd like to know if this would be even something to consider providing unprompted.
My position stands that if you feel comfortable with any potential interview followup discussion about the situation, you can consider replying in any open-ended prompts you encounter similar to your example.
 
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