By Ellen McGirt
Updated: December 4, 2018 12:11 PM ET

Today, I’m joining forces with my sisters at The Broadsheet and Term Sheet, two Fortune newsletters you should consider subscribing to if you don’t already.

The question we’re asking: What is up with men?

The trigger was this Bloomberg article showing that Wall Street men are adopting new rules and draconian tactics to avoid being in contact with women, lest they are caught up in some #MeToo hysteria:

No more dinners with female colleagues. Don’t sit next to them on flights. Book hotel rooms on different floors. Avoid one-on-one meetings. In fact, as a wealth adviser put it, just hiring a woman these days is “an unknown risk.” What if she took something he said the wrong way?

Call it the Pence Effect, because they are.

The Vice President, who has said he never eats a meal alone with a woman who isn’t his wife, may be trying to avoid the appearance of impropriety, but in fact, he’s just removing opportunities for meaningful face time with the boss. “In finance, the overarching impact can be, in essence, gender segregation,” says Bloomberg.

Consider this recent survey showing that men and women tend to define sexual harassment quite differently, and this Lean In survey from February, which found that male managers now report being three times as likely to say they are uncomfortable mentoring women and twice as uncomfortable working alone with a woman and you’ve got a recipe for… the justification for the consolidation of male power?

Or is it something else?

Broadsheet editor Kristen Bellstrom spoke for so many when she wrote today, “I find it difficult to believe that men who are so skittish around and suspicious of women were ever doing all that much to advance the careers of their female colleagues. Rather, I tend to think that true allies behave more along the lines of one unnamed investment adviser who told Bloomberg that he considered adopting some of these behaviors, only to at last land on a different solution: ‘Just try not to be an asshole.’”

A solid start, I’ll admit.

And Term Sheet’s Polina Marinova is equally over it. “Not only is it absurd, it is also impractical to ice out an entire gender out of fear of being accused of sexual harassment. It’s a reaction—not a solution.”

She’s absolutely right.

So, we’re all asking our readers: Is this happening to you? Or is it something you’re seeing, doing, feeling, or worried about? Talk to us. We’re all about solutions.

For raceAheaders – how does this affect women of color? Are men of color, who often already report being extra careful to not be perceived as harassers, paying an additional price? And if you’re a skittish male manager, what workplace changes (apart from banishing women) would help you feel better prepared to do your job?

Feel free to ping me as you usually do, or email me at, and we’ll all share notes for future reporting. If the unintended consequence of equity in the workplace turns into just another barrier for women, we’re going to need a whole other hashtag.


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