Office Ogling Distracts Women
Bosses be warned – women who are eyed amorously or provocatively at work are less likely to do as well at work, according to a study led by Dr. Sarah Gervais, a psychologist at the University of Nebraska.
The research found that being the subject of a man’s admiring gaze is distracting and unsettling for women because it either puts them off or makes them feel flattered.
The study, published in the journal Psychology of Women Quarterly, found that women taking a math test experienced a drop in performance if the male researcher asking the questions occasionally glanced at their chest. Research assistants were instructed to give a quick glance over at a person’s body and then train their gaze at the person’s chest for a consistent period of time.
The research assistants were then paired off with a selection of male and female volunteers, who had 10 minutes to complete 12 math problems.
The results revealed that the scores of male participants were not affected by whether or not they got an objectifying glance from a woman. Women on the other hand, scored lower when their male partners objectified them. The non-objectified women got an average of six out of 12 questions correct, while women who were ogled scored an average of just under five.
This led psychologists to believe that the lower score s could be due to women becoming anxious about sexist stereotypes.
However, the research also found that despite the negative effect ogling has on work performance, women still interact more with men who look at them this way.
Dr. Gervais said, ‘It creates this vicious cycle for women in which they’re under-performing in math or at work, but they’re continuing to want to interact with the person who’s making them underperform in the first place.’
Dr. Gervais said this seemingly self-defeating desire could be because they want a chance to show men they’re not a sex object.
‘It’s almost expected that men are going to do this to women and that really it’s not that harmful.’
But if research shows such ogling consistently interferes with work performance, it’s time to take the issue more seriously, Dr. Gervais said.
She added: ‘Even though it is just a look, it has meaningful consequences for women.’