The #MeToo movement has been a raging topic online and offline for the past many months. A lot of skeletons have tumbled out of the cupboard and a lot are coming to light almost daily.
However this has also brought about a new set of problems for women. A new situation called ‘Touch Me Not’ syndrome seems to be evolving. This is not only alarming but also scary as we might be losing hard earned ground in terms of gender equality. There are a few inherent discrimination which have hindered women’s growth in workforce over the years. A few of them are-
Women have to battle out inherent discrimination when it comes to moving up the career ladder. An ambitious women is liked less by men and women in comparison to an ambitious man. Words like ambitious, competitive are often seen as negative connotations when associated with a woman. These discrimination are deep seeded and many a times play out unconsciously!
Culturally the world over, a woman is seen as nurturing while men are seen as leaders and providers. It automatically puts men before women and women grow up with an inferiority mindset. A woman is told to act lady like and mellow. A woman believes that she shouldn’t be talking about her achievements.
Points like these have made it difficult for women to break the glass ceilings, push for higher goals and be more participating in workforce. Very few women who overcome these issues have managed to secure high level leadership positions.
But, as the #MeToo movement kicked in and raged on, the men seem to have found a way to keep themselves safe at the cost of women. Ambiguous nature of allegations as well as poor understanding about what constitutes harassment has led to woman phobia in men. Earlier where men didn’t think twice about going out for coffee and discussing work with a woman, now suddenly want a witness when interacting with women.
Men in leadership levels or those in high pressure job seem to be taking Mike Pence advice rather seriously. After Mike Pence famously announced that he refuses to dine alone with a woman other than his wife, it has become a common excuse to avoid women at all costs.
How is this affecting women you ask?
According to a December article in Bloomberg, a new set of unwritten laws have come into force at The Wall Street. Hiring a woman is seen as an unknown risk.
After battling issues like sexual discrimination, self-doubt and societal pressure an ambitious woman trying to move up the ladder has to now worry about #MeToo phobia as well.
It is a known fact that as you go higher in the corporate ladder there are lesser number of women. It is important to have a mentor who will groom you to the next level and champion for you as you grow. It is hard to find a woman leader every time and if men decide to follow this #MeToo phobia route, not many will make it in the coming generation as well for lack of mentors and believers.
What needs to be done
It is important to coach both the genders about sexual harassment and sexual discrimination. It is important that both the genders realize they bring value to the table and that needs to be tapped into.
If there are enough open discussions about topics like these instead of assuming things, we might see much stronger and lasting solutions.
Create comprehensive rules for women inclusiveness and rotational mentoring sessions to ensure that true meaning of ‘how women want to be treated’ is ingrained in the organization.
Reading more about women and their role in society, their role as leaders and change makers too will help broaden the horizon for men.
A good book that will help both men and women respect women’s choices and help them participate more in workplace is LEAN IN. All higher management and mentors should read this.
These are my thoughts based on what I read and saw about this matter. #MeToo is a positive movement but it needs to go beyond words and name shaming in public. We need to do it now, otherwise the next set of talented women would be struggling with the same problems that were prevalent 20 years ago.