The #MeToo movement has clearly done a massive amount of good, forcing predators from their jobs, raising awareness about harassment, and ensuring terrible behavior more often has serious consequences. But according to a new survey, the outcomes of #MeToo aren't all positive.
"A full 60 percent of male managers say they are uncomfortable engaging in common workplace interactions with women, including mentoring, socializing, and having one-on-one meetings--up 14 percentage points from last year," according to the poll.
Let's count the ways that's totally annoying.
There are several ways that finding is totally annoying. First, all this trepidation among male managers hasn't even led to more secure and welcoming workplaces for women.
"Women feel less safe at work than they did before. Only 85 percent said they feel safe on the job, down from 91 percent last year. Media coverage that is intended to hold aggressors accountable also seems to create a sense of threat, and people don't seem to feel like aggressors are held accountable," reports the survey.
Second, the line between harassment and getting a coffee with a female subordinate to discuss her career really isn't all that blurry. If you talk about, say, work and not about anyone's anatomy or romantic feelings, you're in the clear.
Perhaps this reluctance stems from a worry about being falsely accused of sexual harassment. Well then, that's annoying too. Study after study shows that false accusations are, in fact, very rare. While those accused of wrongdoing should be treated fairly and have those allegations impartially investigated, worry about someone calling you a creep when you're not really one is not a sensible reason to avoid women at work.
The biggest annoyance of all
But the biggest annoyance of all is probably the one highlighted by Lean In founder Sheryl Sandberg, responding to the findings on CNBC (hat tip to Business Insider). The proper response to a public eruption of reports about women being unjustly held back at work would probably be giving them more of a leg up. Instead, this wave of fear means the result has actually been the opposite. If men won't sit down with women, they certainly won't mentor them.
"Women already weren't getting the same mentorship that men were, particularly women of color. And no one has ever gotten a promotion without getting a one-on-one meeting," Sandberg pointed out.
What's the solution to this new and baseless impediment to women's advancement? Sandberg was as clear in her prescription as she was in her condemnation of the problem: men, just get over it.
"Men and women need to be able to travel together, they need to be able to go to meetings together, go to meals together," Sandberg said. "It is really important not to harass anyone. But that's pretty basic. We also need to not be ignored."
"If there is a man out there who doesn't want to have work dinners with a woman, then he shouldn't have work dinners with a man. You know, group lunches for everyone if that's how they feel," she concluded.
That seems like a fair thing to ask.