Even as the #MeToo movement began brewing in the West in 2017, a group of researchers started worrying about the fallout of the global storm that claimed many big names, starting first with the fashion industry and slowly spreading to other fields. Though the #MeToo movement empowered women to speak out against sexual harassment and jolted awake sleeping sexual harassment cells at the workplace, new research has found that the the effects of #MeToo on women in the workforce may not have been all positive.
Headed by University of Houston professor Leanne Atwater, the study titled "Looking Ahead How What We Know About Sexual Harassment Now Informs Us of the Future", found that almost 19 percent of the men surveyed did not want to hire "attractive women" for jobs.
Additionally, 21 percent men said they were not keen on hiring women for roles involving close interactions with men. 27 percent male respondents claimed they avoided one-on-one meetings with women, post #MeToo.
The survey was initially kicked off in 2018 when the researchers collected people's predictions of the fallout of #MeToo. The survey revealed that both men and women had awareness of what constituted sexual harassment. Contrary to the popular belief that some women are more "sensitive", the survey revealed that men were more likely to deem certain behaviours as sexual harassment than women.
However, latest 2019 findings published in the Harvard Business Review precede the numbers predicted in 2018 when 74 percent women believed women would report or speak up against sexual harassment without hesitation and 77 percent men hoped it would make men more wary of inappropriate behavior on their part.
However, the results of the follow-up study are not promising, especially in terms of gender gap in corporate sector. It could affect women working across industries and affect women's participation in the workforce as well as the gender pay-gap.
The study concluded that the way forward, at least at an organisational level, was to ensure training of employees not only on what constitutes sexual harassment but also focus on character building and gender equality.