The Myth About Office Flirting

Why those studies about workplace sirens deserve an eye roll instead of a wink
Does playing office footsie really get you promoted? Photo illustration by 731; Photograph by Ellen Stagg/Getty Images

I used to work with a woman who, whenever she approached a man’s desk, would lean forward to speak to him, presenting her cleavage like a gift from Victoria’s Secret. This tic annoyed the female staffers greatly. “What is she doing?” we’d whisper to each other in the bathroom, secretly worrying that she was gaining some intangible advantage over those of us who buttoned up our button-ups. Eventually, and awkwardly, a female manager spoke to her about appropriate attire. The V-necks turned into turtlenecks, but her tendency to caress men’s arms and bat her eyelashes remained, as did our paranoia.

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