"It creates this vicious cycle for women in which they're underperforming in math or work domains, but they're continuing to want to interact with the person who is making them underperform in the first place," Live Science quoted Sarah Gervais, a psychologist at the University of Nebraska, Lincoln, as saying.
According to researchers, objectification happens when a person is judged on body parts or sexual function without regard to other aspects of their personality.
Gervais and her colleagues decided to investigate whether "sneaking a peek" at an opposite-sex workmate might affect that person's job performance.
"For people that are doing this - even the men who are presumably doing this pretty frequently - actually having to slow down and do it is pretty hard," Gervais said.
The results revealed that men's scores were not affected whether or not they got an objectifying glance from a woman before the math test.
But it wasn't the same case for women.
Women whose male partners objectified them scored lower than those whose partners didn't gaze at their bodies. The non-objectified women scored an average of 6 out of 12 questions correct, while objectified women scored an average of just under 5.
The researchers are now investigating whether woman-on-woman or man-on-man gazing has any effect on performance. They're also interested in whether licentious glances could become as taboo as butt-slaps under sexual harassment law.
"When it comes to something subtle like this, it's very difficult to combat. It's sort of expected that men are going to do this to women and that really it's just not that harmful," she said.
"Even though it is just a look," she added, "it has meaningful consequences for women."
The study appears in the February issue of the journal Psychology of Women Quarterly. (ANI)