Polling by LeanIn.org via SurveyMonkey revealed that about 60 percent of male managers are “too nervous” to interact with women in many professional settings.
The key findings, according to the results published on Friday, suggest a new issue growing in this era of increasing accountability. First, that “60% of managers who are men are uncomfortable participating in a common work activity with a woman, such as mentoring, working alone, or socializing together.”
Senior-level male employees have also expressed hesitance to “spend time with junior women” as opposed to their male counterparts “across a range of basic work activities such as 1-on-1 meetings, travel, and work dinners.” These findings represent a 32 percent increase over 2018. Thirty-six percent more men now also actively avoid women in junior positions.
“We need to actively support women at work,” the summary said, “including by mentoring and sponsoring them. Men—who are the majority of managers and senior leaders—can help make this happen.” The study also found that these increased fears were correlated with the increase in visibility of the #MeToo movement.
And this problem may feed an even greater disparity in female representation in the workplace: “The vast majority of managers and senior leaders are men,” said Facebook COO, SurveyMonkey board member, and LeanIn.Org founder Sheryl Sandberg in a statement. “If they are reluctant even to meet one-on-one with women, there’s no way women can get an equal shot at proving themselves.”
“We’re in a bad place—no one’s ever gotten promoted without a one-on-one meeting, I feel confident in saying that,” Sandberg told Gayle King on CBS This Morning. “Senior men right now are nine times more hesitant to travel with a woman and six times more likely to hesitate to have a work dinner.”
“There’s not a company in the world that can afford to leave talent on the sidelines because it’s female,” she said. “But that’s what will keep happening unless all of us—especially men—commit to doing better.”