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Employment Law Blog

Friday, August 05, 2005

Sending the Wrong Message

According to a new Tulane University study, flirtatious women get fewer raises and promotions.  You can check out the article here.  I?m no economist, but something about this study strikes me as odd.  The study is based on self-reporting by 164 MBA graduates, in which they were asked to respond to ten questions about their conduct at work, including ?I flirt with people at work? (all 10 are reproduced below).  While 49% of the women reported engaging in at least one of the 10 behaviors, almost all of the women said it was ?infrequent?.  I haven?t seen the actual study (to be released on Monday), but if I?m reading the article correctly, women who infrequently flirt with co-workers will be promoted, on average, one less time than women who never engage in this type of behavior.

Obviously, the issue is not whether the two are correlated, but whether the flirty behavior causes the managerial decision not to promote or grant a pay raise.  I?m not sure whether the study does (or can) prove causation, but how can you control for the myriad of policies and procedures that govern promotions and raises?  If you?ve ever had the misfortune of litigating a failure to promote or an Equal Pay Act case, particularly in a large company, you know how tedious it can be to ferret out the causes for these decisions.

<u>Ten Questions</u>:
<li>I wear a skirt or something more revealing than usual around clients or supervisors to get attention.
<li>I flirt with people at work.
<li>I draw attention to my legs by crossing them provocatively when in meetings or sitting with a group of men at work.
<li>I hint or imply that I am attracted to a man (men) at work even if I am not.
<li>I purposely let men sneak a look down my shirt when I lean over a table.
<li>I massage a man’s shoulders or back while at work.
<li>I sent flirty or risqu? e-mails to male co-workers.
<li>I tell male co-workers or clients they look sexy or “hot.”
<li>I allow men to linger at certain places of my body while hugging them.
<li>I emphasize my sexuality while at work by the way I dress, speak, and act.

Posted by Patrick Della Valle on 08/05 at 10:17 AM