A senior Australian surgeon is at the centre of a controversy after advising her junior female doctors to submit to sexual abuse at work if they wish to progress further in their careers.

The Australian vascular surgeon, Dr. Gabrielle McMullin, made the comments at the launch of her book, Pathways to Gender Equality.

Speaking to ABC radio following the event, Dr. McMullin said she empowered women in her career to further their career by "complying with requests" for sex since speaking out could damage their reputations.

"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," said Dr. McMullin.

Dr. McMullin referred to the story of Dr. Caroline Tan who won a sexual harassment case in 2008 against a surgeon who sexually assaulted her while she was training at a Melbourne Hospital.

"Despite that victory, she [Dr. Tan] has never been appointed to a public position in a hospital in Australasia," said Dr. McMullin.

"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.

"Of course I don't condone any form of sexual harassment and the advice that I gave to potential surgical trainees was irony, but unfortunately that is the truth at the moment, that women do not get supported if they make a complaint."

A victim of sexual harassment who chose to be unidentified also told ABC radio that she suffered years of harassment from a senior surgeon but chooses to remain silent.

"If you complain... you'll be exposed, you'll be hung up to dry, you won't be able to work," said the victim.

"You'd be seen as a liability, that's my opinion. You absolutely would be seen as a liability moving forward."

Following the interview, Dr. McMullin faced heavy criticism from professionals in the medical field as well as women's rights groups and sex abuse campaigners who condemned her comments as "appalling" and "irresponsible".