Frank G. Zarb School of Business Journalism Psychology Rhetoric Women's Studies

An Academic Discussion of #MeToo

An interdisciplinary panel of professors explored their different takes on the #metoo movement at a panel discussion on November 14. The event was organized by Debra Comer, PhD of the Zarb School of Business Department of Management & Entrepreneurship, and co-sponsored by the student group, Zarb Women in Business. The panelists included:

In addition, Michael Schwartz, EdD, visiting from RMIT University in Australia, covered Ethics: Victimization, Humiliation, and the Decent Society.

While the #metoo movement went viral two years ago, Professor Merrill noted that exploitation can be traced back to colonization, recalling the horrors of native Americans being taken advantage of by settlers. “When women do speak up they are frequently not taken seriously,” Merrill said. “Social structures enable the violation of another person’s autonomy.”

Dean Lenaghan, a management and human resources expert, explained that creating an environment where sexual harassment claims are taken seriously is “smart business.”

“It is a smart business case for businesses to make sure workplaces are ones where people can do their very best,” said Dean Lenaghan. “Victims who feel safer at work are more likely to come forward,” said Lenaghan. “The organizational culture helps drive workplace changes.”

Professor Schare discussed his experience working with “truly silent victims who despite the movement, will not speak for themselves.” He explained that while the #metoo movement has heightened public awareness, it has also triggered traumatic memories for patients in his psychology clinic. “Many people went further underground,” says Schare. “There is too much of a public discussion for people who aren’t ready.”

This public discussion has trended in 85 countries on social media, according to Professor Brent Zook. She noted that women of color are more likely to be targets of sexual harassment since they tend to work in places that frequently report it – the restaurant, hotel, and retail industries. She notes they are the “core of this movement and have been since the beginning of time. They are the blindspot of #metoo.”

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