#MeToo Sparked Important Conversations, But Do Women Believe Workplaces Are Changing?

photographed by David Brandon Geeting; styled by Emily Holland; set design by Priscilla Jeong; modeled by Vera Casagrande at Parts Models.
#MeToo is America's sexual harassment reckoning, but months — and millions of tweets — later, many are questioning whether the discussion sparked by this movement has resulted in notable changes at workplaces around the country. Short of sweeping reform, do Americans at least feel like things are changing for the better?
A new survey by NBC News and The Wall Street Journal shed some light on these questions. The poll, conducted in March, found that while 48% of those surveyed say that #MeToo has increased the conversation about appropriate behavior in the workplace, only 18% say they've personally changed their behavior as a result.
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One in five Americans changing their behavior is a good thing, but it isn't nearly enough. And the poll seems to reflect that: 52% believe that men do not accept or treat women as equals in the workplace. For women, that number climbs to 61%. Further, 44% of women report they have personally experienced gender discrimination at work.
It's particularly disappointing because, as NBC News reports, the number of women who report men fail to treat them as equals at work hasn't budged in 19 years. The questions this poll raises are good ones: Where does #Me Too go from here? How do we take it from a national conversation to palpable change in the workplace?
Of course, it's going to take time, but the perception that things aren't changing can't be good for working women — particularly as it relates to the ambition gap and what it'll take to encourage more women to seek higher pay and executive positions. While most leaders agree that it's important to create inclusive workplaces for women, and increase diversity at conferences and on keynote stages, do women really feel accepted? Are they worried that they're being paid less? Treated unfairly? Discriminated against or passed over for promotion? And whether having children will mean both.
It'd be unfair to say that things haven't changed at all in last 19 years just because that's the perception. But it's notable how pessimistic American women are about their workplaces changing, and that's a problem employers have to reckon with.
One silver lining is that the poll found that 67% are convinced the movement has changed attitudes about the issue of sexual harassment in the long run. Hopefully, those changed attitudes can eventually become good policy, and in another 19 years, we can look back and reflect on the significant progress we've made.
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