Why men are refusing to work with women

Author: Tosin Ridwan Lasisi

Why men are refusing to work with women is becoming a concern. Wherever men and women interact, confusion seems to be a recurring theme. The differences in our natures, needs, and motivations require us to take special care in all our male-female interactions.

Since inception, the relationship between men and women in virtually every aspect of life has been questioned. One of such areas is that of gender discrimination of females at work.

Gender discrimination is the idea and situation that men and women are not equal. It refers to unequal treatment of individuals wholly or partly due to their gender.  This  arises from differences in gender roles.

However, the quest to alleviate gender inequality on the part of females has gained wider recognition and support. On the other hand, it has increased the reasons why men are refusing to work with women. One of which is the #MeToo movement.

#MeToo movement-one of the reasons why men are refusing to work with women.

The Me Too movement is a movement against sexual harassment and sexual assault.

MeToo spread virally in October 2017 as a hashtag used on social media. It attempted to demonstrate the widespread prevalence of sexual assault and harassment, especially in the workplace.[2]

As the term became viral, victims and non-victims alike spoke up about experiences at the workplace, calling out their bosses and male counterparts at work. Here’s the bane of the story;

Critics of the hashtag brought up cases of witch-hunt and false accusations. They put the responsibility of publicizing sexual harassment and abuse on those who experienced it, making it re-traumatizing.

As the movement becomes more pronounced, the air is filled with warnings that men might react by refusing to hire and promote females.

Misinterpretation of Working Relationship.

This is the most alarming reason why men are refusing to work with women. As social beings, the attraction between opposite sexes is inevitable, even at the workplace.

People tend to see in others and hear from others what they themselves want to see and hear.

Males have been known to regard physical gestures by females as a “green light”. A male colleague can misinterpret a simple “how was your night?” with a smile from the right female colleague.

Emotional connection affects females on the other hand. Merely listening to a female colleague pour out personal issues could be misinterpreted as “I think he’s into me”. It’s all in the way both parties interpret signals. Different things trigger that feeling of sexual and emotional attraction and steps must be taken to prevent sending “wrong signals”.

Attraction at work happens – a lot. We spend a significant amount of time with our coworkers, and sometimes share similar interests. Therefore it is natural that we tend to become attracted to them. However, appropriate measures have to be in place to put things in check. The clarity of intentions should always be present. In the end any measure put in place would lead to cries about inequality in the workplace from either side. 

Preemptive Measures Against Sexual Misconduct Claims.

To ensure a healthy working environment among both sexes, clear and concise boundaries have to be set to guide relationships at the workplace.

Let’s evaluate steps that can be helpful:

Intentions for meeting alone with a colleague should be clear

When meeting with a fellow at work, intentions for such meetings should be as clear as possible. Perhaps, a junior employee wants a mentorship session with a senior manager of the opposite sex. While approaching such individual, be very specific about the purpose of such meeting. Let the colleague know you’re interested in business and send specific messages to avoid misinterpretation. (e.g, I have problems setting up a mailing list and I want to know how you go about it).

Meetings about business should be strictly professional: 

Don’t offer to come by his/her place to talk about business. Ensure your conversations have a professional tone and atmosphere. Avoid flirting just to “lighten up the mood”. Don’t get misinterpreted.

Don’t be afraid to talk about Consent:

One of the most common defenses from people accused of harassment is that they thought that kiss, the unwanted grab, was desired by the other party. Don’t be caught up in this line as it is never an excuse. Before carrying out such actions, make sure you seek consent. To verify if the sexual attraction is mutual, and to be on the safe side. Even so, it is better to abstain from such physical contact at work, to remain professional.

The simple truth is that the best measure to be taken is just to simply hire the best hands you can find. Employment should be based on merit. More importantly, necessary background checks should be done to ensure the persons that are being employed and the employees as well.

With all the reviews of working relationships and movements to curb sexual misconduct at work, there is little wonder that same-sex interactions are becoming prevalent. However, this is not the solution,  to maximize productivity. Organizations need all of their employees to interact comfortably with each other[3]. It is also critical for women trying to advance their careers to have the same access as their male colleagues to senior management, which is still often predominantly male[4]. If senior male management sticks with male employees when it comes time for business trips, social outings or even one-on-one meetings, then women don’t have a chance of reaching equality with men at work[5]. So, don’t avoid the opposite sex, mentor them instead.

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