New research by management scholars on workplace flirting is getting quite a bit of media attention. You might have rolled your eyes at the topic, thinking that nothing serious can be learned about the workplace by studying flirtatious women.
A study of flirting at work may reveal a lot about workplace gender inequality. In fact, the behavior may be telling of underlying problems that are not “sexual” in content.
First, the study (read a summary of the study here). The authors surveyed about 300 employed female attorneys in 38 Southeastern U.S. law firms. Female attorneys reported on, among other things: their strategic flirting (engaging in socio-sexual behaviors with the intent of attaining a desirable outcome); daily mistreatment (the frequency with which they were treated rudely, excluded from a work activity, or as not-smart or inferior); and the femininity or masculinity of their law firm (the extent to which their firm could be characterized by terms such as “assertiveness, forcefulness, and masculinity” versus “compassion, and warmth”).