Women make up less than 5 percent of CEOs at Fortune 500 companies. That leaves most women to be mentored by the men who hold positions of power.
But in the era of #MeToo, some men are growing nervous about taking on a female mentee for fear of a sexual harassment or assault claim being filed against them should the mentorship go awry.
"Long term, I think businesses that that's their messaging, that somehow we're not going to mentor women because it's dangerous ... if that's your company's message, you're not going to last as long as you think," said Illinois State University Psychology Professor Scott Jordan.
He said society needs to be aware that this mentality exists, and act in ways to counter it.
Jordan recommends making a list of what you want out of a mentorship before seeking a mentor, and to always know what behaviors would make you walk away.
Vice President Mike Pence has famously said he is never in a room alone with a woman. Kyle Ciani, acting director of ISU’s Women’s and Gender Studies program, said Pence is just practicing bad mentorship.
“Mentorship is not about taking a woman out to lunch,” she said. “That's not mentorship. That's a date.”
Ciani said #MeToo is only the latest medium through which workplace mentorship concerns have been brought up.
“It's interesting to me to see how the #MeToo movement has blown things up again. There's always something. There's always some social issue, a cultural concern that creates an environment where people, especially people in in positions of power, become nervous.”
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