Not exactly an advertising and marketing story, but a new US study has found that men and women still find working alongside one another in an office environment awkward.
The study was conducted by Morning Consult and The New York Times and found many people believed that the opposite sexes were incompatible with one another from a workplace perspective.
However, it needs to be said the study was US-based where the penalties for inappropriate workplace behaviour are probably more evident (and severe) than they are in Australia.
Again, the respondents to the survey didn’t have a media/marketing focus but it did find that both men and women are wary of one another particularly in one-on-one situations.
Some 25 per cent of respondents felt private work meetings with a member of the opposite sex were “inappropriate”. Two-thirds agree that extra caution needs to be taken around members of the opposite sex at work. The majority of women and half of men agreed it was unacceptable to have dinner or drinks with someone of the opposite sex other than their partner or spouse.
As the graph below shows, it’s younger women – particularly ones who are religious – that are most likely to find one-on-one interaction with a male colleague inappropriate.
Commenting on the findings of the study, The New York Times columnist, Claire Cain Miller, said: “The results show the extent to which sex is an implicit part of our interactions. They also explain in part why women still don’t have the same opportunities as men. They are treated differently not just on the golf course or in the boardroom, but in daily episodes large and small, at work and in their social lives.
“One reason women stall professionally, research shows, is that people have a tendency to hire, promote and mentor people like themselves. When men avoid solo interactions with women — a catch-up lunch or late night finishing a project — it puts women at a disadvantage,” she said.