GET EMAIL UPDATES FROM POWERTOFLY
popular

New Study Shows the Pence Effect Is Real:

Men are avoiding sexual harassment by opting for sexual discrimination instead.

When it comes to sexual harassment, Vice President Mike Pence takes a very different tack from our Commander in Chief.


Pence has said that he won't have dinner alone with a woman who's not his wife, and he also requests his wife's presence at any events where alcohol is present.

While many are fans of this very traditional sense of propriety, this antiquated approach rests on several problematic assumptions (that men are incapable of respecting women, chief among them) and causes several more issues:

  • How might a woman on Pence's staff be impacted if he meets one-on-one with all of his male direct reports, but refuses to do so with her?
  • When the majority of corporate leaders are men, how can women receive proper mentorship if men decide they can't be alone with women?
  • What happens if bosses invite their male staff members to happy hours and leave women out?

In summary: when men hold the power, finding excuses to create men-only spaces puts women at an inherent disadvantage.

In the wake of the #MeToo Movement, several prominent men on Wall Street said they were taking a leaf out of Mike Pence's book and avoiding time alone with women for fear that they'd be accused of sexual harassment (effectively punishing women for speaking up, and demonstrating that they were more concerned with being accused of sexual harassment than actually doing anything to stop sexual harassment).

Now, a recent study from the University of Houston has shown that the Pence Effect goes well beyond Wall Street. Men in a number of different industries are avoiding women at work, effectively swapping sexual harassment for sexual discrimination.

Study Results

The University of Houston study found that in the wake of the #MeToo movement, men are much more hesitant to interact with their female colleagues.

In early 2018, the researchers conducted a survey about sexual harassment in the workplace to ascertain men and women's attitudes about what constitutes sexual harassment, and the impact they thought the #MeToo movement would have on the incidence of harassment and behavior at work.

They then surveyed another group of people in 2019 to see how accurate the 2018 predictions had been, and the backlash was even greater than expected:

  • 19% of men said they were reluctant to hire attractive women
  • 21% of men said they were reluctant to hire women for jobs involving close interpersonal interactions with men (jobs involving travel, say)
  • 27% of men said they avoided one-on-one meetings with female colleagues
-------

Are women being unfairly punished for #MeToo? What do you think we should do about it? Tell us what you think in the comments.


Career Advice

How to Become a Data Analyst (Without Going Back to College)

Supply and demand… we all know that as job seekers, high demand and low supply work in our favor. It's a booming job market already, but even more so for data analysts.

READ MORE AND DISCUSS Show less
popular

Why Female Presidential Candidates Are Still Told to Be Chill, Not Shrill

The Dated, Everyday Tech Stifling Women's Voices Shows the Importance of Diversity in Tech

"You're not like other girls. You're so...chill."

I've gotten that "compliment" from multiple guys in multiple contexts — and I'm ashamed to admit that until a few years ago, I took it as one.

Occasionally I'd wonder why. After all, anyone who knows me well knows I am the Anti-Chill: a tightly wound stress ball, ready to explode into tears at any given moment.

So what was giving these guys the wrong impression? As it turns out, it was my voice. My cool, unnaturally-deep-for-a-woman, never-shrill voice.

And if I'm honest, I always prided myself on not sounding 'like other girls.' No uptalk or high-pitched squeals of glee from me. I thought I sounded smarter and more serious. Talk about internalized misogyny.

This isn't just me though. There is a societal double bind that forces women to spend an inordinate amount of time thinking about the right pitch and tone for each situation.

Just consider the advice that Democratic-debate coach Christine Jahnke gave female candidates to avoid being labeled as shrill: "… go slow and low. Very purposefully slow your pace and lower the tone a bit, because that will add meaning or gravitas to whatever it is you're talking about."

In a nutshell: try and sound chill, not shrill.

What I didn't know, until recently, is how this bias against women's natural voices is being reinforced and amplified by century-old technology. (Just one of many examples of how technology designed by and for men ends up hurting women in the long-run.)

Author Tina Tallon explains this little-known fact in her recent New Yorker article, summarized below:

How 20th Century Tech Is Holding 21st Century Women Back

With the rise of commercial broadcast radio in the 1920s, women's voices began getting critiqued. As Tallon explains, station directors asserted that "women sounded 'shrill,' 'nasal,' and 'distorted.'" So when industry standards were set, directors didn't take women's voices into account.

When Congress limited the bandwidth available to each radio station in 1927, station directors set a bandwidth that would provide the minimum amount of information necessary to understand "human" speech.

They used lower voices as their benchmark, so the higher frequency components of women's speech necessary to understand certain consonants were cut, making women's voices less intelligible.

  • Researcher J.C. Steinberg asserted that, "nature has so designed woman's speech that it is always most effective when it is of soft and well-modulated tone." He explained that if a woman raised her voice on air, it would exceed the limitations of the equipment. As Tallon says, "He viewed this as a personal and biological failing on women's part, not a technical one on his."

Why You Should Care

Women have always been told to lower their voices, but this 20th century approach to sound frequencies is still accepted as the standard, literally forcing women to lower their voices if they want to be heard.

  • To this day, many algorithms and speakers distort women's speech by limiting higher frequencies, causing women's voices to lose definition and clarity.

Tallon sums it up well:

"Consequently, women are still receiving the same advice that they were given in the nineteen-twenties: lower the pitch of your voice, and don't show too much emotion. By following that advice, women expose themselves to another set of criticisms, which also have a long history: they lack personality, or they sound 'forced' and 'unnatural.'"


----

So as we continue to grapple with implicit biases against women, from what it means to be "presidential" to who's considered an "innovative leader," let's remember the importance of diversity in tech.

Had a woman been involved in researching/setting the standards for radio frequencies, she might've been able to steer the industry towards a voiceband that would allow men and women to be heard equally well. And perhaps had a more impartial voiceband been established, I'd have heard a more diverse range of female speakers growing up, and internalized fewer biases myself.

That's why we care so much at PowerToFly about making sure cutting-edge companies have diverse teams.

Times were different then, sure, but the fact that Depression Era standards are still impacting how we hear (or don't hear) women's voices is a vital reminder that what we do today impacts our world for centuries to come.

Agree?

RISE UP THROUGH OUR FREE COMMUNITY
  • Network with top executives even if you aren't looking for a new role
  • First look at flexible, work-from-home, in-office roles
  • Join live chats led by expert women in your field and beyond
Sign Up

Career Advice

How (And When) To Call in Sick — Even When You Work Remotely

It goes without saying that at some point in your career, you'll come down with a cold or virus that will require you to stay home from work, drink excessive amounts of tea, and make good use of that gravity blanket you impulse-bought off of Amazon.

READ MORE AND DISCUSS Show less
Fidelity

3 Ways That Fidelity Investments Stands Out As An Employer

A Thought-Provoking Conversation on How the Firm Empowers Their Associates

We all need something to motivate us to show up to work each day – to have a purpose, to feel engaged and fulfilled. For some, it's our coworkers. For others, it's our clients. It might even be our company's mission.

READ MORE AND DISCUSS Show less
Loading...
© Rebelmouse 2019