Facebook Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg speaks at the American Enterprise Institute, Wednesday, June 22, 2016 in Washington. Alex Brandon AP
Facebook Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg speaks at the American Enterprise Institute, Wednesday, June 22, 2016 in Washington. Alex Brandon AP

National

Americans no longer prefer to work for a man. But will #metoo backlash hurt women?

December 04, 2017 08:06 AM

UPDATED December 04, 2017 12:33 PM

Americans no longer prefer a male boss over a female boss, according to a recent study.

For the first time since Gallup starting asking people this question, a majority of Americans said their boss's gender makes no difference to them.

The Gallup survey was conducted in early November, a month after media mogul Harvey Weinstein was accused of sexual harassment by many women, sparking the #MeToo movement which inspired a flood of sexual harassment claims against powerful men in a variety of industries.

“The public's current break from its decades-long preference for male bosses could be a sign that recent news events have had an effect,” according to a Gallup news release.

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Only 23 percent of Americans said they preferred a male boss, compared to 33 percent in 2014 and 66 percent when the poll first started in 1953.

While the recent poll could mean good news for women in the workforce who are in management positions, Facebook exec Sheryl Sandberg warned of a backlash sparked by the “Me Too” movement, she wrote on Facebook Sunday.

“I have already heard the rumblings of a backlash: ‘This is why you shouldn’t hire women,’ ” she wrote about the recent sexual harassment allegations. “Actually, this is why you should.”

The “Lean In” author said she fears that “the percentage of men who will be afraid to be alone with a female colleague has to be sky high right now,” which could result in women being left out of mentoring opportunities.

“Doing right by women in the workplace does not just mean treating them with respect. It also means not isolating or ignoring them – and making access equal. Whether that means you take all your direct reports out to dinner or none of them, the key is to give men and women equal opportunities to succeed,” she wrote.

“So much good is happening to fix workplaces right now,” she wrote. “Let’s make sure it does not have the unintended consequence of holding women back.”

She said that ultimately, having more women in powerful positions will bring the biggest changes to the workplace.

Sandberg also outlined a set of rules for systematic changes in the workplace that would foster a safer working environment, help set a more equal playing field for both genders, protect victims of workplace sexual harassment, and punish the perpetrators properly.

“For too long, too many people have believed that there’s no point in reporting harassment – that nothing will happen, or worse, that it will negatively impact their career,” she wrote. “And on the other side, some people are scared that their reputations will be ruined unfairly. Having a consistent and fair process that applies to everyone helps protect against both scenarios and restores a degree of faith in the system.”

A third of women between 18 and 34 report being sexually harassed at work, according to a Cosmopolitan survey of more than 2,000 women in 2015.

A recent marketing research study found that companies are tightening their budgets and holding back the booze for holiday parties this year, and it could be in fear of sexual harassment claims. Eleven percent of companies who responded to an annual survey said they won’t be hosting a holiday party this year, according to research by Challenger, Gray and Christmas Inc, a HR research company. That’s up from 4 percent in 2016, the survey found. And for those companies who do host a holiday party, fewer will be providing alcohol at the events.