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Why are men scared to help female colleagues?

Dr Kim Elsesser recently released the results of her study, which she claims proves that men are often afraid to help or socialise with female colleagues for fear of being accused of sexual harassment.

Dr Elsesser worked on Wall Street for Morgan Stanley, where she noticed a divide between her male and female colleagues. Women were often left out of after-work drinks and social events, not out of malice but because the men seemed scared to network with women. She also noticed there were very few women in senior positions at the firm, so she decided to go back to school to study the phenomenon when she left the company.

“Problems arise when men and women try to establish friendships or mentor relationships,” Dr Elsesser says. “Even outside of the workplace, men and women are more likely to have same-sex friends.

“Adult men and women are less likely to befriend the opposite sex because of different interests, different communication styles and worry that their friendliness will be misinterpreted as romantic interest.”

She says that there is a heightened awareness of sexual harassment issues inside the office. She says this is part of a larger issue that she calls the “sex partition,” a sort of hysteria that causes male and female colleagues to behave awkwardly around each other. As a result, men spend their time at work with other men and women lose out on valuable networking opportunities.

Dr Elsesser claims the more senior the man, the more likely he is to avoid forming relationships with his female subordinates because he has more to lose from a complaint against him.

There has been a worldwide backlash against Dr Elsesser, with people claiming she wants businesses to back peddle on tackling sexual harassment in the workplace. However, she says she isn’t suggesting she’s solved the problem but instead believes both men and women can have professional relationships and maintain appropriate boundaries.

Read the original article by the Independent at