In some ways, working relationships between men and women have changed for the better since the #MeToo movement took hold. But research also suggests the movement may have had an unintended consequence: Pushing men away from their female colleagues.
Because men aren’t totally sure where boundaries are drawn in less obvious situations, they want to avoid anything that could be seen as inappropriate.
In fact, 60% of male managers are uncomfortable participating in common workplace activities—such as mentoring, working alone or socializing—with a woman, according to a recent poll conducted by LeanIn.org and SurveyMonkey. That’s a 32% increase from one year ago.
When a local women’s networking group called The Alliance met in August to tackle the issue, they decided the best way to address what is and is not acceptable is to have honest conversations and help each other navigate the waters. That means teaching and questioning behaviors rather than accusing or confronting—a practice that has been proven to bring people together instead of further distancing two groups.
“One small thing we can do is take opportunities to teach instead of scold,” Julie Laperouse, who spearheads The Alliance, says. “This is not said in an attempt to continue to put the onus on women to fix this problem that we didn’t create, but to be partners in continuing to move things in a positive direction.”