Are men becoming too scared to work with women?
BEGINNING as an incredible social media phenomenon, the #MeToo movement is empowering women to speak up on sexual harassment.
A local business woman, however, says it's resulting in Australian men being more than twice as likely to be scared of working with women.
Melissa Richardson, Managing Director of Art of Mentoring based in Bellingen, said research conducted by the nation-wide business has shown men are becoming more hesitant to work with women in fear of sexual harassment claims.
"We were watching the #MeToo movement play out and began wondering how it would affect relationships between men and women in the workplace. I became concerned men would become less inclined to mentor women,” she said.
"We began hearing concerning comments from participants in our programs.”
Ms Richardson said the study was inspired by another commissioned by Sheryl Samberg in the US, which she said found men were becoming more afraid to mentor, be alone or go to social events with female colleagues.
"The #MeToo movement had a lot of media impact in the US, but we found the trends are happening here too.
"Across the board around 25 per cent of men said they felt uncomfortable doing a range of things with female colleagues.
"Overcoming this obstacle is important for workplaces, as a continuation of this behaviour will decrease the opportunities women have at work.”
"There were a few surprising findings.
"With one of the main commonly described obstacles for women in the workplace being self-limiting beliefs, we found 80 per cent of women and 60 per cent of men encountered them.
"Our survey revealed 64 per cent of men and 58 per cent of women found it more difficult to choose between work and family.”
The #MeToo movement came into prominence as a Twitter campaign after a number of Hollywood actresses came forward with allegations of sexual assault and harassment at the hands of producer Harvey Weinstein.
Soon after journalist Tracey Spicer launched an investigation into the Australian media industry, receiving more than 1500 complaints.
15% (7% pre-#MeToo) of men felt uncomfortable to work alone with a female colleague.
13% (7% pre-#MeToo) felt uncomfortable attending evening events with a female colleague.
12% (7% pre-#MeToo) felt uncomfortable socialising with a female colleague.