LeanIn.org and SurveyMonkey just released the results of a survey on the state of men and women interacting in the workplace in the age of #MeToo. The results are frustrating. The data reveals that 60% of male managers say they are uncomfortable performing common workplace activities such as mentoring, working one on one, or socializing with a woman. That’s a 32% increase over last year.
To add insult to insult, senior-level men who were surveyed are now far more hesitant to spend time with junior female colleagues than junior male ones, across a range of basic work activities. The men were 12 times more likely to hesitate to have one-on-one meetings, nine times more likely to hesitate to travel with a junior woman for work, and six times more likely to hesitate to have a work dinner with a junior woman.
That means the many, many women in this world who are just trying to do their jobs and make progress in their careers are being stymied by men who are terrified of being, I dunno, unable to control themselves while talking to a woman in the conference room. It’s an infuriating addition to the challenges that women already face in the workplace, adding to their emotional labor by making sure their male bosses feel comfortable interacting with them alone and at those all-important work socialization events. The dynamic basically foists the burden of making men feel comfortable on to women, who already get paid less money than their male counterparts and may retire poorer at the end of their work lives.
While male managers may feel like they are insulating themselves in the age of #MeToo, cutting off women’s access to mentoring and access to senior-level managers is just another form of discrimination and sexism.
If that weren’t frustrating enough, the survey also reveals that sexual harassment remains pervasive in the workplace, with 57% of women reporting that they’ve experienced some form of sexual harassment in the workplace. Men and women don’t agree as to who is more affected by harassment. Some 50% of men say that the consequences of sexual harassment claims are more damaging to the careers of harassers, not victims, while 64% of women say the victims end up paying a higher price.
Companies need to address this to help women feel confident and comfortable at work, or risk alienating or stifling 43% of the country’s workforce and adding to the $2 trillion in GDP lost to gender inequity.