I recently asked my social media followers to tell me about times in which they encountered or were the recipients of sexist language and comments in the workplace. As suspected, the archaic sentiments surrounding gender roles and stereotypes are alive and well. Here is a sample of the feedback I received.
Shortly after graduating from college, I worked for a biotech firm as a receptionist. The R&D group was led by a woman who held a Ph.D. in biochemistry from Oxford. One day I answered a call from a gentleman asking for the name of the head of R&D. I told him that it was Dr. Victoria Smith. “Okay, Dr. Vittorio Smith? Could you spell his first name, please?”
I attended a conference and received the lead list. I brought it back to the office and gave it to my male peer, who asked me if I could type it up and send it to him. Uh, no.
We were planning for an upcoming client meeting that would be held at a resort. The manager of the client service team kept saying things about the “activities we have planned for the wives” and that “the wives could go sightseeing” during the meetings. I asked if my husband would be invited to join the wives, or if they preferred to have him go to the client meeting in my place. Nervous laughter.
“Yeah, so the Big Boss just spoke at a Women’s Leadership Conference. He got to feel what it’s like for women!” Female executive: “Oh, did all of the women talk over him, dismiss his ideas, and take credit for his accomplishments?” Dead silence ensued.
I was assigned to a project that was going to entail a significant amount of travel. The senior partner looked at me and said, “You. Are you married, single, what?” (I’m pretty sure he didn’t know my name, hence the “you.”) I said, “I’m engaged.” “And your fiancé…he’s okay with this?” I don’t remember what I replied, but I do remember thinking that I SHOULD HAVE said “Actually, until I’m married, I still need permission from my father in order to travel.”
We were hiring for a new associate in our group. I interviewed a very highly qualified candidate whom my male boss refused to meet. Why? Because she spoke with an accent. Meanwhile, 2 of the men on the team spoke in thickly accented English.
I was 22, and the assistant manager of a local movie theater. On a very busy Saturday night, a male customer approached me and demanded to speak with the manager. I responded that I was the manager on duty. A 40-something year-old male coworker walked by. The customer asked him if he was the manager. He responded that he wasn’t and that I was, in fact, the manager.
My male manager advised me to try to stop being so “bossy.” I told him that if I were a man, he would commend me for being “assertive.” “No, no, that’s not it, it’s just that sometimes people think you’re rude…” The usual nonsense.
I’m sure you have more stories to hear. Please send them my way!