Research Dives into ‘Strategic Flirtation’ in the Workplace

According to a new study, when a work environment is deemed as masculine, more flirting ensues compared to a feminine environment described by sympathy, warmth and sensitivity.

Researchers from Oklahoma State University, the University of Utah, the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill and the University of Massachusetts-Amherst surveyed 281 female attorneys at 8 different lawfirms in the southeast.

Each lawyer answered questions about “socio-sexual” behaviors like whether or not they smile flirtatiously at “certain men at work” or whether they “sometimes try to play dumb or act like I need help from a male at work.” In addition, they responded to questions about how they were treated on a daily basis at the office.

Interestingly enough, a law firm wasn’t determined to be masculine or feminine by the number of men or women who worked there. Instead, the culture was described as masculine if it was aggressive, competitive, ambitious or risk-tasking and its culture was described as feminine if it’s environment was sensitive, loyal and warm.

Researchers concluded when a workplace emphasizes masculinity, flirting is more commonplace. In the paper they wrote this culture will “encourage employees to aggressively seek to use their assets to ‘win’ at whatever cost.”