Sinkhole Office
Michelle Kondrich


NBC News’ THINK asked men and women in different professions across the U.S. how the #MeToo movement has changed the way they interact with people at work — if at all. This is a sampling of those responses:

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Since allegations of sexual misconduct by high-powered men have hit the news, the balance of power between men and women in the workplace has been called into question — along with what’s considered appropriate behavior, both between peers and from superiors. At hospitals, in government halls and across the tech industry, the effect of #MeToo has disrupted work environments to different degrees. For one week, NBC News’ opinion section received 265 responses from people ages 20 to 81 who shared their stories of how the #MeToo movement has — or has not — changed the way they interact with their coworkers.

Office Table
Michelle Kondrich

I minimize my interaction with women now and under no circumstances will I be in a room alone with a woman again. … We have all been told by our corporate office to not have a man and a woman alone in any room, whether it is an office or a conference room. If a man and a woman have to have a conversation behind closed doors, we are now required to have a third person present, with a fourth being preferred.

male / Manufacturing / Keene, N.H. / Age 43

I’ve been in IT for 30-plus years and I learned a long time ago to be careful what you say and do around others. I don’t touch anyone in any way, tell off-color jokes or stories when I don’t know for certain that those nearby are OK with that. I won’t say anything to a woman about her clothes, shoes, hair, etc. I act like a gentleman at all times. That doesn’t mean there is no interaction, there is, of course, office gossip, life stories, work issues and the like.

male / IT — Government / Port Murray, N.J. / Age 60
Employee checking smartphone
Michelle Kondrich

I was denied a promotion. Before #MeToo, I probably would not have put up a fight. This time I did. The movement has given me the courage to stand up for myself and for other women. It has also made me very conscious of how I treat other people, both men and women.

female / Education / Age 58

I have worked in male-dominated fields my entire working life, over two very different careers, and have never had any issues working with my male counterparts. I’m not oversensitive about ‘rough’ language, dirty jokes and actually enjoy the male/female working interactions I’ve had. We always respect each other and pal around just fine. So I haven’t changed one aspect about how I work with men, other than possibly reassuring new men I meet that I’m cool with men being just the way they are, occasional warts and all.

female / AV for live events / Cottage Grove, Minn. / Age 53
Employee sitting at office desk
Michelle Kondrich

I have always been respectful of all co-workers, but after #MeToo, I find myself avoiding social interactions entirely. I’ve become more disconnected than ever.

male / High Tech – Software / Raleigh, N.C. / Age 40

I am more cautious around women. I try to not look in their general direction anymore and if there is an absolute necessity for me to interact with women in my workplace, I always approach them from the front, face-to-face only. I don’t want to suddenly teleport behind them … As this is usually the most stressful part of my day, I tend to imagine that I am interacting with a male co-worker or a sophisticated AI, a machine if you will.

male / Finance / Seattle / Age 27
Sofa and coffee table
Michelle Kondrich

Most of my colleagues are women and we are all fairly friendly. … I refer to our receptionist as my girlfriend; another co-worker is very fashionable and I say that I’m the president of her fan club. A third colleague, her and I were handsy with each other like butt slapping and things I assumed were playful. When the #MeToo movement started, it made me reflect on basically every relationship I’ve ever had. I specifically thought of my colleagues and sat each one down and asked them if they were willfully participating or if they felt pressured … I can’t be a part of this.

male / Charity / Trenton, N.J. / Age 37

It hasn’t changed anything. I still distrust doctors, and I don’t think they deserve my trust just because there’s an M.D. after their name. I’ve been threatened by the lawyer of my rapist, and, therefore, I’m afraid to tell my story any further than the one I wrote today. However, I have a sense of vindication, and I enjoy seeing the strength of the women, those members of the #MeToo Generation, as they tell it. #MeToo hasn’t changed anything that would benefit me.

female / Health care — Registered nurse / Honolulu / Age 74

I no longer feel comfortable joking around with [women] about any topic, as these days they can say anything feels like an unwanted sexual advance. I can ask a guy co-worker to hangout or laugh and act friendly, but now I only feel safe talking about nothing but work with women because even me trying to make them laugh could be portrayed as an unwanted advance.

male / Federal Government / Port Orchard, Wash. / Age 22
Employee walking with notebook
Michelle Kondrich

#MeToo has not changed my interactions in the workplace. I have worked in the nuclear power industry for the past 37 years. In the early ‘80s, there were very few women on site, and most of them filled administrative or clerical positions. Over the years, there has been an influx of more technological educated women, in the engineering and operations sectors. I have always treated them as co-workers that happen to be women, just as I treat people of color as co-workers who happen to be of a different skin tone.

male / Commercial Nuclear Power / Age 67

I can’t do anything anymore.

male / Media / New York / Age 41
Employee walking to watercooler
Michelle Kondrich

It has made me a little afraid to say anything to female/male co-workers that they may take it the wrong way and scream #MeToo. I find my conversations are much shorter than they normally would be. They are strictly about work and nothing else. No questions about family, friends, what they did over the weekend and things like that. … I make sure there is someone else within earshot of our conversations in case there is ever a question to what was said or implied.

male / Manufacturing / Centralia, Ill. / Age 57

I keep all interactions and discussions with women as short as possible and limited to work-related topics only, with no joking around. All this sexual harassment and #MeToo news has actually made my life much easier, because now that I know my job security could be at risk anytime some woman misinterprets what I said, I simply avoid them as much as possible.

male / Insurance / South Hadley, Mass. / Age 44
Employees collaborating at a desk
Michelle Kondrich

I am a woman and #MeToo has screwed me. In Silicon Valley it is really hard to get time with VCs [venture capitalists], so you do whatever it takes. A lot of time that would be meeting them at a bar in the evening. … It is good networking and that is how I got my initial seed funding. But now no one wants to meet with a woman under 40. Even in the office they won’t be alone with you. I am a big girl and don’t need this patriarchal assumption that anything might upset me and make me bring a lawsuit.

female / Tech startup / San Francisco Bay Area / Age 32

Even before #MeToo, I would not meet with students in my office with the door closed. Now, many of my colleagues will not allow a female student alone in their office even with the door open. I worry that this is going to cut female students off from support and opportunities that male students benefit from.

male / University / Berkeley, Calif. / Age 48

Back in November, management had a meeting where we decided that travel needs to be limited to people that are not potential HR problems. So no more young people of any gender can go on trips with management. People who do travel together must also be the same gender. We also cannot sit next to each other on the plane, so there is no way to work on the flights. It also means that assistants can’t be upgraded to sit with management so they stay in the back.

male / Consulting / Washington, D.C. / Age 53
Coffee table
Michelle Kondrich

I’m being a lot more careful now. Specific changes that I have made: No meetings with women in my office. No one-on-one meetings with any women. No more walk-and-talk meetings with women to the coffee shop. When traveling, I will no longer coordinate to be on the same flight or sit next to a female co-worker. No hugs for anyone.

male / Technology / San Francisco / Age 38

#MeToo has made me far more alert about how people interact with me. It has also made me far more introspective to be sure that I treat others with the correct amount of respect. I see #MeToo as being not just about the sexual and gender discrimination, but discrimination of all kinds.

female / IT / Age 55
Employee talking on smartphone
Michelle Kondrich

Everyone’s afraid of being falsely accused of something. The ‘human factor’ has disappeared. Personally I’m now very direct and straight to the point. If it’s not about the assignment there’s no need to really speak or talk about anything. The warmth has disappeared in how I speak to ladies. I’m certainly not mean or cruel. But I’m more ‘robotic’ and to the point with female co-workers. There is no sense of friendliness or warmth anymore so that nothing can be misconstrued.

male / Business Administration / Chicago / Age 30
Employee walking with smartphone
Michelle Kondrich

I work from home. As a mother of three girls, I am trying to teach them the four agreements: 1) Be impeccable with your word. 2) Don’t take anything personally. 3) Don’t make assumptions. 4) Always do your best.

female / IT / Austin, Texas / Age 49
Employee at whiteboard
Michelle Kondrich

Haven’t changed a bit. I was raised with good manners, respect and common sense by a single mom and older sister. Mom had six sisters. Now I have a wonderful wife and seven granddaughters. I live by the Golden Rule and I know how to treat people. It’s as simple as that.

male / Health care / Rochester, N.Y. / Age 70

I finally found the courage to stand up for myself and get management to fire a client who constantly made me uncomfortable with his unprofessional language toward me, my looks, etc. I finally felt empowered to say enough is enough and make my voice heard.

female / Financial / Denver / Age 44
Office Garden
Michelle Kondrich
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