The Unintended Consequences of #MeToo: Evidence from Research Collaborations & The Evolution of Sexual Harassment Policies Around #MeToo
AbstractHow did #MeToo alter the cost of collaboration between women and men? I show junior female academics start fewer projects after #MeToo. A decrease in collaborations with new male co-authors at the same institution largely explains the decline in projects. The decline in collaborations is concentrated in universities where both sexual harassment policies are more ambiguous (i.e., broader), and the number of public incidents (salience of sexual harassment accusations) is high. This is consistent with men managing a higher perceived risk of sexual harassment accusations as a potential explanation for the decrease in collaborations. Overall, #MeToo appears to bring unintended consequences that impact the career opportunities of junior women.
I also examine how universities adapted the specificity of their sexual harassment policies post #MeToo. My findings reveal that universities made their policies more specific after #MeToo. This shift was more pronounced in private universities, particularly those with publicized cases or leaders from male-dominated academic fields. Notably, increased policy clarity correlated with the recruitment of more junior female faculty, especially in environments with predominantly male senior faculty.