Changing policies and guidelines will not be enough to stamp out the sexual harassment, bullying and discrimination experienced by female medical trainees - changing the design of medical education itself is the only solution, according to the author of a Perspective in the Medical Journal of Australia.
Professor Merrilyn Walton, Professor of Medical Education (Patient Safety) at the University of Sydney, wrote that "being a senior doctor is not a qualification for teaching in itself".
"Clinical supervisors need to be accredited. Accredited supervisors can reinforce the potential of all trainees rather than acting as a de facto barrier to women's entry into male-dominated specialties", she wrote.
The current culture of medical training reinforces to students the need to maintain the status quo, to not complain, to conform and be complacent, Professor Walton wrote.
Additionally, the "legalistic framework for managing complaints", in which there are severe consequences for the whistleblower also led to a reluctance to report, she said.
Most important was the need to acknowledge the differences in the way men and women learn.
"Women may be at a disadvantage their learning approaches and styles may not be as suited to the opportunistic supervision learning method used in hospitals that requires an assertive personality and a cando attitude that are not necessarily the best for patient care, but are best for progress in specialty training. Professor Walton wrote.
"A failure to address the design of medical education will only maintain the status quo and perpetuate discrimination against women in medical training.
"Acknowledging the powerful influence of supervisors on learning outcomes for trainees is crucial.
"Allowing a supervisor who is known to be sexist or discriminatory to teach brings into question the sincerity of a College in dealing with bad behaviour.
"Colleges need to have zero tolerance for harassment and discrimination.
"College policies and guidelines about harassment and discrimination alone will not change the culture - these must be accompanied by swift and strong action by College representatives when instances are brought to their attention."