No woman should have to put up with gender bias – period. Oftentimes, there’s a tendency to dismiss or ignore sexism in the office – so as not to ‘make a big deal out of nothing’ or be seen to play the Woman Card too often – but, unfortunately, it’s a reality for many of us, not specific to one geographical area or culture.
Whether it’s ‘casual’ derogatory commentary or full-on sexual harassment, it’s now not only frowned upon, but illegal in many parts of the world to make a woman feel uncomfortable, unwanted or ‘less than’ in a work environment.
Here are 5 common manifestations of everyday sexism at work – signs you should absolutely pay attention to:
‘Is it your time of the month?’
Perhaps a colleague or your boss says this when you express a firm opinion or have a legitimate complaint. It is known to be one of the most sexist remarks made to women in the workplace and shouldn’t be tolerated. Make a formal complaint to your superiors and/or speak to a member of your HR team about this type of behaviour.
‘Is there a man I could speak to instead?’
Newsflash: Having a vagina never made anyone less competent or less able to effectively carry out their job. If a situation or disagreement turns into a gender issue, it shouldn’t be overlooked.
‘Could you please make some tea?’
Unless the men in the office are equally tasked with performing menial tasks, like taking notes during a meeting or distributing drinks, you might have a problem on your hands and want to address it quickly.
She said, He said
You express an idea or opinion in a group which is swiftly dismissed, but your male colleague shares the very same idea and it’s applauded. In case you’ve ever wondered, yes, that is a form of sexism, especially if it happens repeatedly. Make time to discuss this with the perpetrator and have your voice heard; they shouldn’t get away with it.
Typically, if a woman is too quiet, she might come across as timid or unintelligent, but those who are vocal and assertive tend to be seen as aggressive (with women in the workplace, there seldom seems to be a middle ground). While you can’t control anyone’s opinion of you, you should never have to tolerate name-calling or verbal abuse of any kind. Should you find yourself a victim of this, take it up with appropriate authorities immediately.