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Survey: Since #MeToo, the number of male managers uncomfortable mentoring women has tripled


New evidence from LeanIn.Org points to a potential downside of the #MeToo movement for women, one that further hinders their paths to senior-level positions.

Nonprofit LeanIn.Org recently partnered with SurveyMonkey to understand what men and women were feeling in the wake of widespread media reports of sexual harassment. The findings? Since #MeToo, the number of men who are uncomfortable mentoring women has tripled.

According to survey results, almost half of male managers are uncomfortable participating in a common work activity with a woman, such as mentoring, working alone or socializing together.

Specific findings include:

  • Almost 30 percent of male managers are uncomfortable working alone with a woman — more than twice as many as before.
  • The number of male managers uncomfortable mentoring women has more than tripled from 5 percent to 16 percent. This means that 1 in 6 male managers may now hesitate to mentor a woman.
  • Senior-level men are 3.5 times more likely to hesitate to have work dinner with a junior-level woman than with a junior-level man, and 5 times more likely to hesitate to travel for work with a junior-level woman.
  • About half of women and men say their companies have responded to the #MeToo movement by taking action against harassers, updating policies, or offerings employees guidance or training.

In a Facebook post last week, LeanIn.Org founder Sheryl Sandberg explained that men’s increasing unwillingness to mentor their female colleagues “undoubtedly will decrease the opportunities women have at work.” Sandberg said that, “The last thing women need right now is even more isolation. Men vastly outnumber women as managers and senior leaders, so when they avoid, ice out, or exclude women, we pay the price.” 

In response to survey findings, LeanIn.Org launched a new initiative called #MentorHer, which aims to educate about why mentorship is so crucial to achieving gender parity in the workplace. Learn more about #MentorHer.

A number of high-profile male business leaders have made the commitment to mentor women, including Oath CEO Tim Armstrong, LinkedIn co-founder Reid Hoffman and CEO Jeff Weiner, Unilever CEO Paul Polman, and Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, Fortune.com reports

“If we’re going to change the power imbalance that enables so much sexual harassment in the first place, we need to ensure women get more mentorship and sponsorship, not less,” Sandberg said in her post. “That’s how we get the stretch assignments that lead to promotions. That’s how we build the networks that put us on the path to exciting opportunities. That’s how we get the respect – and recognition – we deserve.”

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