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Thread: Men now avoid women at work

  1. #1
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    Men now avoid women at work

    The whole Guardian headline:

    Men now avoid women at work – another sign we're being punished for #MeToo
    [Subhead] A new study has found US men appear to be following Mike Pence’s lead. Maybe they’re angry that #MeToo ever happened
    t looks like Mike Pence is quite the trendsetter. The US vice-president famously refuses to have dinner alone with any woman who isn’t his wife – and now working men across corporate America appear to be following his lead.

    A new study, due to be published in the journal Organizational Dynamics, has found that, following the #MeToo movement, men are significantly more reluctant to interact with their female colleagues. A few highlights from the research include:

    • 27% of men avoid one-on-one meetings with female co-workers. Yep, that’s right, almost a third of men are terrified to be alone in a room with a woman.
    • 21% of men said they would be reluctant to hire women for a job that would require close interaction (such as business travel).
    • 19% of men would be reluctant to hire an attractive woman.


    The data above was collected in early 2019 from workers across a wide range of industries. Researchers had asked the same questions (albeit to different people and with more of a focus on future expectations) in early 2018, just as #MeToo was in full swing, and depressingly, things appear to have got worse. In 2018, for example, 15% of men said they would be more reluctant to hire women for jobs that require close interpersonal interactions with women, compared to 21% in 2019.
    The author, Arwa Mahdawi, seems pretty ticked off at men for this:
    There’s been a lot of talk about “grey areas” in #MeToo. All this harassment business is very difficult for men, we’re told, because nobody even knows what sexual harassment is any more! Men are afraid to even shake a woman’s hand in case she thinks it’s harassment! Easier to just avoid contact altogether!
    Ms Mahdawi is having none of it!
    What’s really interesting about this study, however, is that it thoroughly debunks the argument that men are confused about what constitutes unacceptable behavior. The very first thing researchers did was look at 19 behaviours (emailing sexual jokes to a subordinate, for example) and get people to classify it as harassment or not. Surprise, surprise, both genders basically agreed on what harassment entails.

    “Most men know what sexual harassment is, and most women know what it is,” Leanne Atwater, a professor at the University of Houston and one of the study’s authors, told the Harvard Business Review. “The idea that men don’t know their behavior is bad and that women are making a mountain out of a molehill is largely untrue. If anything, women are more lenient in defining harassment.”

    So there you go: most men are perfectly aware of the difference between a friendly hug and a creepy hug. They are perfectly aware of what constitutes harassment and what doesn’t. Which makes you wonder why so many men are afraid to interact with women at work?

    The answer to that question, perhaps, is that a lot of men aren’t so much afraid of being accused of anything as they are they are angry that #MeToo ever happened. They’re angry that they’ve been made to think about their behavior, made to interrogate power dynamics they always took for granted, and they are punishing women for it by refusing to interact with them.
    The study reveals a significant change, it appears, and the damage to women pursuing careers seems is also significant.

    My reaction is different than the author's, however, because I assume the men are making rational decisions here. That is, there's a reason, or reasons, for the change.

    And I don't think it just the guys being spiteful, as Arwa seems to. She also says women discriminate against women, particularly against attractive women, but that the data isn't published yet. That's old news, though. Threading the needle on just how good an ambitious but attractive woman can look—especially around a female boss—is a minefield. (Yep, mixed metaphors are my raison d'être.)

    I assume that the men here are looking to avoid stress when all else is equal. I don't know if it goes much deeper than that.
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    Yep. The Human Resources Department does little other than to create a hostile workplace where some people simply refuse to socialize because it's easier than wondering if the person you are talking to is going to meltdown because of something you said.
    I'm thinking that once, in 1953, a group of interesting people just happened to be in a coffee shop at the same time and a great discussion of issues, ideas, and the meaning of life occurred. Since then we have been waiting at Starbucks for Lawrence Ferlinghetti to say something heavy.

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    Prior to #me too, and probably even now, what percentage of women are legitimately afraid to be one on one with a male colleague.

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    Knowing the women I've worked with, I'd say it's a wise policy to avoid them at all costs.
    You can't spell "hatred" without "red hat".

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    Quote Originally Posted by Djharkavy View Post
    Prior to #me too, and probably even now, what percentage of women are legitimately afraid to be one on one with a male colleague.
    With a male colleague or a particular male colleague? I would guess that almost all women have had a male colleague/boss/etc. that they avoided being alone with due to the potential of unwanted sexual advances.
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    Having worked primarily with men almost my entire career, I can say that I have never been afraid that a male supervisor or peer would run to HR and make trouble for me because I told him a joke, invited him for a drink, or turned down a come on. The thought never crossed my mind.

    Most women have probably been approached by guys in some workplace and disliked that guy or that approach. Brushing them off happens and it usually never leads to some 'Fatal Attraction' situation on the part of the guy.

    Most men never pester or intimidate a female colleague sexually just as most women don't willfully misinterpret male/female interactions or simply make things up to be vindictive. Most don't.

    But some few do and they can cause a lot of trouble all the way around. This is complicated by the revolving door nature of a lot of workplaces today. You may not be able to know anybody really well in the three years before you move on. Are they joking? Being ironic? Awkward? Overly sensitive? Who knows?

    There's no career downside in most places today to keeping things public and neutral. Will some people fail to make social connections that could advance their careers? Sure, but they will also fail to make enemies who could sabotage them for social reasons. It's a wash most of the time.

    The only thing that has or will change in the workplace is that natural social relationships (and the perks they can carry) will remove to after hours and off the premise. This won't prevent or encourage those relationships though the players may be more self-protective.

    Same game, different deck.
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    Quote Originally Posted by phillygirl View Post
    With a male colleague or a particular male colleague? I would guess that almost all women have had a male colleague/boss/etc. that they avoided being alone with due to the potential of unwanted sexual advances.
    True THAT. And often to the detriment of their opportunities for advancement.

    I have no trouble believing that 27% of men in the workplace will use any excuse to avoid working with women, and this excuse is a jim-dandy one.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Celeste Chalfonte View Post
    True THAT. And often to the detriment of their opportunities for advancement.

    I have no trouble believing that 27% of men in the workplace will use any excuse to avoid working with women, and this excuse is a jim-dandy one.
    I also believe that at least a percentage really are terrified of a false accusation.
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    Three years before my second pension I avoid them like the plague.

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  12. #10
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    Its not just women, its any protected "class". My wifes office had a lesbian that accused a few people of harassment. They finally paid her off to make her go away.

    Mark
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