In the wake of recent celebrity sexual harassment allegations, women are speaking out to remind society that it’s not just the rich and famous who receive inappropriate attention.
In what is supposed to be a safe, professional space to network in your industry, women are now forced to include their marital status to avoid unwanted sexual advances.
Twenty-four-year-old Alyssa Hill from San Diego has admitted to adding “Mrs.” to her LinkedIn profile in an attempt to ward off unwanted attention from “creepy” men.
“A lot of men are using LinkedIn to hit on people. They should know that it is not a dating site. They are putting everyone else in an uncomfortable situation. … There was one message that said, ‘hey beautiful.’ As soon as you use the word ‘beautiful’ you are taking the conversation somewhere that isn’t professional,” the client engagement specialist told the Daily Mail.
Hill has been married for five years and has been registered to the professional social networking site for even longer. Despite using LinkedIn since 2011, Hill says, there has been a recent rise in the site’s misuse.
“I think it is to do with the climate we are in. It feels like we’re going back in time. I think it is to do with sexism. I think they do it because they don’t see women in a professional way. It’s sad. They are still not seeing us as people. It’s awful, but it is true,” she said.
Hill isn’t the only one sharing her story of unwanted sexual advances. Karolyn Hart, who is the CEO and co-founder of her own company, felt compelled to write an open letter explaining her recent addition to her professional title on the networking site.
“I just added the ‘Mrs.’ to my name on LinkedIn. Why? If we met in person you’d notice the wedding ring, and unless you were a creep you’d respect it,” wrote the Windsor, Ontario, native. “In the virtual space, you can’t see the wedding ring, but you’ll note the prominently displayed ‘Mrs’ in front of my name and respect that … and before the statements start – yes, I fully realize that I shouldn’t have to identify myself as married in a business environment.”
Hart has been married for 21 years and made the change to her profile title after receiving numerous messages from men asking her on dates. She admits the men who have approached her have been respectful, but she still wants to make her status clear to avoid any future advances.
“I’m not so naïve to think that all of a sudden we are going to have this barrier of protection. … When you are interacting in a virtual place it is hard to re-create those signals you have when you meet in person,” she told the Daily Mail.
Despite her suitors being “respectful,” Hart is hopeful that the title change will help LinkedIn remain what it was meant to be: a professional networking site that connects like-minded individuals in their industry.
“I would like to hope and believe that we are in a society where you can respect that someone is putting out a pretty clear signal.”