UCLA professor Kim Elsesser in her new book, Sex and the Office: Women, Men, and the Sex Partition That's Dividing the Work Place on appealing to women to break down the sex partition that distances men and women at the office:
It's important to remember that the sex partition isn't a physical barrier, it's a social construction. People created it, and people can break it down. Women have ample experience breaking down barriers, and now they need to set their sights on this one. Female leaders were so scarce a half of century ago that a 1965 Harvard Business Review article entitled "Are Women Executives People?" questioned, "Do women execs act like people, think of themselves as people, and does the business community treat them as people?" It's hard to imagine now, but trailblazing female executives went to work with coworkers questioning whether they were "people." Due to the efforts of previous generations, women no longer head to work with concerns about being perceived as a person. Unfortunately, we have new barriers to break now.
We need to be trailblazing a new path. Women who befriend or socialize with their male colleagues, particularly one-on-one, may have to bear the brunt of some rumors or negative remarks. They may have to endure uncomfortable situations. However, as this behavior becomes more common, it will be questioned less and less. Female executives a half of century ago endured negative comments about their nontraditional roles, but their experiences made it easier for us today. Now we need to trail-blaze a path through the sex partition. It will be worth our efforts."