Young Canadian Men And Women At Odds About The Effect Of #MeToo In The Workplace

Men ages 18 to 34 are twice as likely to say it’s OK to give a colleague an uninvited shoulder rub and express sexual interest in a co-worker, according to a new survey.

metoo in the workplace: young women holds #metoo sign

The #MeToo movement is sparking divisions between young men and women in the workplace, with millennial women far more likely to report harassment, and men between the ages of 18 and 34 far less likely to think the behaviour women would report is actually a problem.

A new in-depth survey from Angus Reid on all things #MeToo found young men are following the movement most closely. They’re also around twice as likely as the rest of the population to say it’s OK to express sexual interest in a co-worker, stand in a co-worker’s personal space, tell off-colour jokes or give a colleague an uninvited shoulder rub.

Why Some Women Can’t Get Behind #MeToo — But  Wouldn’t Dare Admit ItWhy Some Women Can’t Get Behind #MeToo — But Wouldn’t Dare Admit It

Meanwhile, 52 percent of the women surveyed say they’ve been sexually harassed at work, and nearly nine out of 10 women said they’ve had to take steps to avoid sexual advances. Roughly a quarter of women across all age groups (from 18 to 55+) said they resent having to use these strategies and think it shouldn’t be up to them to avoid being harassed. A higher proportion said they don’t like it, but it’s just a reality of life for a woman.

The Angus Reid survey of 2,004 adult Canadians, taken in January, is the most comprehensive look at Canadian attitudes towards #MeToo since the movement took off in light of the allegations of sexual misconduct levelled against Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein in October.

Here are some other key findings from the survey:

  • 90 percent of respondents said women are right to come forward with their past experiences of sexual abuse, but only 58 percent said the #MeToo movement will significantly improve relations between men and women.
  • Men across all age groups are following the headlines about #MeToo at a higher rate than women. 68 percent of men aged 18–34 say they’re keeping an eye on it, versus 55 percent of women in that same age group.
  • Young men are split almost evenly on whether any new rules about conduct post-#MeToo are “killing the human element” in the workplace — 45 percent of millennial men agree that they are, while only 28 percent of women their age agreed with that statement.
  • Overall, 73 percent of respondents agreed that people’s careers are being ruined during the #MeToo movement without due process or a chance to defend themselves. Older Canadians, aged 55+, were most likely to think this (79 percent of men and 75 percent of women).
  • 56 percent of young men agreed with the statement “Some people have definitely behaved like jerks, but they shouldn’t lose their jobs or their reputations for it.”
  • Younger generations were also the most skeptical that #MeToo will lead to any lasting change. 69 percent of millennial women said the movement needs more time to make a difference, while 47 percent of older men think it has made for a major permanent shift in workplace dynamics.