Is Your Open Plan Office Promoting Sexism?

Remember office cubicles? Maybe you still have them. If you now have large, airy, open floor plans at work, while it may increase engagement, promote more innovation and encourage team building, it may also be inadvertently promoting sexism. A recent three-year study conducted in Britain tracked employees (27 women and 13 men who part of a 1,000-employee migration) making the change. Researchers (from Anglia Ruskin University and the University of Bedfordshire) found the move created a “subtly sexist” environment. While some employees saw the new offices as more liberating and promoting better equality, the no-privacy environment caused a bit of voyeurism — most notably among the organization’s male workers as men were evaluating women’s appearances and making comments. Many of the women also said the move brought on increased anxiety. Some said they started dressing differently and wearing more makeup to try to boost their professional status because more people seemed to be watching them.

(Source: Gene Marks , The Washington Post; Image:

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