Sexual tension

Majority of women agree with Pence and consider dinner with a member of the opposite sex inappropriate, poll finds

United States Air Force Master Sergeant Tiffany Bradbury dances with U.S. Vice-President Mike Pence during the Salute to Our Armed Services Ball on Inauguration Day in Washington, D.C, U.S. January 20, 2017. (REUTERS/Rick Wilking)

Many were dismayed after it was revealed back in March that Vice President Mike Pence refuses to share a one-on-one meal with any woman other than his wife. As Women in the World contributor and accomplished lawyer Amy Judge-Prein noted, “My career — and the careers of many women — would not have developed” had her male mentors and co-workers refused to network with her in the same way that they did with men. But according to a new Morning Consult poll that was conducted for The New York Times, the majority of women — and almost half of men — consider sharing dinner with a member of the opposite sex inappropriate. In fact, nearly one in four people responded that they wouldn’t even feel comfortable having a work meeting with an opposite sex co-worker.

Those most likely to label one-on-one interactions between men and women as inappropriate, the poll found, were women, Republicans, people living in rural areas, people living in the South or Midwest, people without a college education, and people who were religious — especially evangelical Christians. But concerns about propriety weren’t restricted to conservatives or the religious-minded. Kathleen Raven, a science writer at Yale University who said she considers herself a progressive, said that she had stopped having closed-door or out-of-office meetings alone with men because of previous incidents of sexual harassment. In order to prevent men from getting the wrong impression about her, she said, she is always careful to avoid being too friendly.

“Women are taught to believe that we are equals while we’re growing up, and that’s not a good message,” said Raven, 34. “We have to make a lot of efforts to protect ourselves.”

But for others, the notion of spending their working lives carefully avoiding one-on-one interactions with the opposite sex seems absurd — if not impossible.

“I do it every day honestly,” said Hannah Stackawitz, a 30-year-old health care consultant, adding that her husband also frequently meets with female colleagues. “There’s no way that women or men can become their full and best selves by closing themselves off.”

Read the full story at The New York Times.


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