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Will sexual misconduct scandals make Men more cautious towards Women?

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Sexual scandals may wary men's behavioral instincts
FILE - In a Feb. 3, 2015, file photo, Facebook chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg is photographed at the company's headquarters in Menlo Park, Calif. Some women, and men, worry that the same climate that’s emboldening women to speak up about harassment could backfire by making some men wary of female colleagues. Sandberg recently wrote that she hoped the outcry over harassment doesn’t “have the unintended consequence of holding women back.” (AP Photo/Eric Risberg, File)
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  • Sexual Scandals are the new low in business industry
  • Americans were already edgy about male-female encounters at work
  • Gender comes as a barrier in interaction

Some women, and men, worry the same climate that’s emboldening women to speak up about sexual misconduct could backfire by making some men wary of female colleagues.

Forget private meetings and get-to-know-you dinners. Beware of banter. Think twice before a high-ranking man mentors a young female staffer.

“I have already heard the rumblings of a backlash: ‘This is why you shouldn’t hire women,’” Facebook chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg wrote in a recent post .

“So much good is happening to fix workplaces right now. Let’s make sure it does not have the unintended consequence of holding women back,” said Sandberg, author of the working women’s manifesto “Lean In.”

Sexual Scandals
From left, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., accompanied by Rep. Cheri Bustos, D-Illinois., and former Fox News host Gretchen Carlson, speaks at a news conference where she and other members of congress introduce legislation to curb sexual harassment in the workplace, on Capitol Hill, Wednesday, Dec. 6, 2017, in Washington. Gillibrand and fellow female Democratic senators have united in calling for Sen. Al Franken to resign amid sexual misconduct allegations. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

Ana Quincoces, a Miami-based attorney and entrepreneur who owns her own food line, says her business and its success involves working mostly with men, and sales and other activities are often concluded over lunch or drinks. Those opportunities, she says, are dwindling, because many of the men she knows through her business “are terrified.”

“There’s a feeling of this wall that wasn’t there that is suddenly up because they don’t know what’s appropriate anymore — it’s disconcerting,” Quincoces said. “I feel that they’re more careful, more formal in their relationships with co-workers. And I can’t say I blame them, because what’s happened is pervasive. Every day there’s a new accusation.”

She said many of the men she knows are now avoiding one-on-one social occasions that were normal in the past.

“This is going to trickle down into all industries. … It’s going to become the new normal,” Quincoces said. “It’s a good thing because women are not afraid anymore, but on the other side, it’s a slippery slope.”

Americans were already edgy about male-female encounters at work: A New York Times/Morning Consult poll of 5,300 men and women last spring found almost two-thirds thought workers should be extra careful around opposite-sex colleagues, and around a quarter thought private work meetings between men and women were inappropriate.

But in a season of outcry over sexual misconduct, some men are suddenly wondering whether they can compliment a female colleague or ask about her weekend. Even a now-former female adviser to the head of Pennsylvania’s Democratic Party suggested on Facebook that men would stop talking to women altogether because of what she portrayed as overblown sexual misconduct claims.

Certain managers are considering whether to make sure they’re never alone with a staffer, despite the complications of adding a third person in situations like performance reviews, says Philippe Weiss, who runs the Chicago-based consultancy Seyfarth Shaw at Work.

Philadelphia employment lawyer Jonathan Segal says some men are declaring they’ll just shut people out of their offices, rather than risk exchanges that could be misconstrued.

“The avoidance issue is my biggest concern, because the marginalization of women in the business world is at least as big a problem as harassment,” Segal says. A recent report involving 222 North American companies found the percentage of women drops from 47 percent at the entry level to 20 percent in the C suite.

Vice President Mike Pence has long said he doesn’t have one-on-one meals with any woman except his wife and wants her by his side anywhere alcohol is served, as part of the couple’s commitment to prioritizing their marriage. The guidelines have “been a blessing to us,” the Republican told Christian Broadcasting Network News in an interview this month.

Employment attorneys caution that it can be problematic to curb interactions with workers because of their gender, if the practice curtails their professional opportunities. W. Brad Johnson, a co-author of a book encouraging male mentors for women, says limiting contact sends a troubling message.

“If I were unwilling to have an individual conversation with you because of your gender, I’m communicating ‘you’re unreliable; you’re a risk,’” says Johnson, a U.S. Naval Academy psychology professor.

Jessica Proud, a communications professional and Republican political consultant in New York City, said it would be wrong if this national “day of reckoning” over sexual misconduct resulted in some men deciding not to hire, mentor or work with women. She recalled a campaign she worked on where she was told she couldn’t travel with the candidate because of how it might look.

“I’m a professional, he’s a professional. Why should my career experience be limited?” she said. “That’s just as insulting in a lot of ways.” VOA

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Here’s The List Of US Jobs With Highest Gender Gap in Wages

Overall, the pay gap has narrowed in the last 50 years, according to the Census Bureau’s Laughlin.

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gender gap
In this May 24, 2018, photo, Rosa Franco, director of lending at Neighborhood Trust Federal Credit Union talks with employees at the bank in New York. Franco says the credit union's partnership with Finhabits is still in development and she anticipates a challenge in marketing the service to her clients, many of whom are consumed by pressing concerns like debt repayment and or sending money to relatives abroad. VOA

By now, we all know there’s a significant gender gap — that women earn less money than men even when doing the same work.

In 2016, women earned an average of $40,675, far less than the $50,741 for men, according Lynda Laughlin of the U.S. Census Bureau.

The bureau finds that the gender gap is largest in fields dominated by men, such as when it comes to being the chief executive of a company. While male CEOs make an average of $141,000 annually, women in the same job picked up about $104,000 — that’s 73 percent of what the guys earn for doing the same work, according to the American Community Survey.

gender gap
Graphic — US Census Bureau. VOA

Other professions where the gap is most significant include sales and finance. For example, male financial advisors are paid an average of $102,000 while women in the same field end up with $69,000. That means the women are earning about 70 cents for every dollar a man makes.

Many of the highest paid jobs for women, including physician, surgeon, nurse anesthetist and dentist, are in health fields.

The gender gap between men and women is lowest among pharmacists, where the women earn 97 cents for every dollar their male colleagues make.

Even the best education can’t close the void.

In fact, an analysis of numbers from the U.S. Department of Education finds that the disparity might even be wider for men and women who are graduates of America’s most elite universities.

gender gap
Colleges with biggest gender gap. VOA

he average man in that study pulls in a salary of $59,000 soon after graduating, but his female counterparts make 19 percent less, earning about $48,000. Of the 117 top-ranked colleges in the analysis, women came out financially on top in only three schools: Yale University, Clark University, and Stevens Institute of Technology. Female graduates earn less than males for all of the other schools, and often by a significant amount.

The 10 universities where the pay gap is most significant include some of the nation’s most prestigious. At No. 1 is Stanford University, where women graduates end up earning $36,000 less than their former fellow male students. Also on the list are Princeton, Harvard, MIT and Duke University.

Also Read: The European Union Warns Facebook Over Consumer’s Data Usage

Overall, the pay gap has narrowed in the last 50 years, according to the Census Bureau’s Laughlin, due in part to the increasing presence of women in the work force and their attainment of higher levels of education. (VOA)