For months I’ve seen a lot of media pointing to the statistic below, almost always in alarm, with the subtext of “How can we expect these poor nervous men to do their jobs?” And my first though is always the same: “Good; let’s go for 100%”
There’s a few things here to consider about these poor nervous men.
First, it’s a *good* thing they’re nervous, not a bad one. It means when they’re dealing with women, either in groups or 1-1, they’re *considering their behavior*. And when the problems happen is when guys thoughtlessly assume their behavior is *just fine*. When they think “Of *course* I’m not doing anything wrong! I’m a feminist! I’m a good guy! WTF are you talking about?” If they’re watching their own behavior, they’re a lot less likely to behave inappropriately.
That’s why I say we should go for 100%, and why I don’t get why the media always cites this stat as if it were bad. It’s *good*. Making managers more self-conscious is *a good thing*. So let’s see more of it!
Second, they’re managers, not delicate, emotionally fragile kindergarteners. They’re not teen boys worrying about how to ask someone out on their first date. Nor are they gay teens dealing with the agonies of coming out. These are grown men in a position of authority in business. Some of them have partners at home, kids, mortgages, bills to pay. Heavy work responsibilities. Are we really worrying about *making them “nervous” because they have to leave their office door *open* rather than closed for their weekly 1-1 with Jane? Seriously? Get over it.
Finally, have some perspective. When you’re marching out to your car in the middle of a dark parking garage one January night, consider Jane trying to do the same thing. Jane is clutching her keys in her fist as a weapon. Maybe her other hand is in her bag, finger on the trigger of some pepper spray. Or maybe she waited to leave until Sarah could walk with her. Or she car pooled so she wouldn’t have to be alone in a dark parking garage at night. I assure you Jane is way more than “nervous” about being assaulted—possibly by a co-worker!—than Joe Manager is about meeting with Jane tomorrow 1-1.
I just mention this because yesterday I again saw this 60% figure mentioned as if it were some horrible thing and I was disgusted. I’ve been a manager. And in my area of tech, tech writing, I work with a lot of women. I’ve had far more women managers than men. I’ve had more women reporting to me than men. So if you’re a man with women reporting to you and you’re “nervous”? Good! Use it as an goad to examine your behavior and make adjustments. Ask your direct reports if they have any suggestings. And above all FFS quit whining.
The nervousness should never be on *that* side of the desk. Nor, ideally, should there be *any* nervousness, unless the manager or employee knows they’re worthy of dismissal.
We’re all adults here. (Outside the District of Columbia, that is.) Let’s act like we have our sh*t together.