It's a man's world: culture of abuse, #MeToo and worker flows

Working paper n°: 149

Author(s): Cyprien Batut, Caroline Coly, Sarah Schneider-Strawczynski

Year: 2021

Sexual harassment and sexists behaviors are pervasive issues in the workplace. Around 12% of women in France have been subjected to toxic behaviors at work in the last year, including sexist comments, moral, sexual or physical harassment, or violence. Such toxic behaviors can not only deter women from entering the labor market, but can also lead them to leave toxic workplaces at their own expense. This article is one of the first to examine the relationship between toxic behaviors and worker flows. We use the #MeToo movement as an exogenous shock to France’s workplace norms regarding toxic behaviors. We combine survey data on reported toxic behaviors in firms with exhaustive administrative data to create a measure of toxic behaviors risk for all French establishments. We use a triple-difference strategy comparing female and male worker flows in high-risk versus low-risk firms before and after #MeToo. We find that #MeToo increased women’s relative quit rates in higher-risk workplaces, while men’s worker flows remained unaffected. This demonstrates the existence of a double penalty for women working in high-risk environments, as they are not only more frequently the victims of toxic behaviors, but are also forced to quit their jobs in order to avoid them.




Cyprien Batut, Chaire Travail PSE, Direction Generale du Trésor


Caroline Coly, Bocconi University, Paris School of Economics, École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales


Sarah Schneider-Strawczynski, Paris School of Economics, Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne University



Language: English

The paper may be downloaded here.