How To Navigate Sexism In The Workplace
by Brad Krause
After spending most of his time in a corporate setting and neglecting his own self-care far too long, Brad embraced his calling and decided to become a full-time life coach. He now spends the rest of his life helping people get a better foothold on their wellness above all else.
Photo via Pixabay
It’s an unfortunate reality that, in this day and age, among all of the other professional obstacles we have to face, women also have to navigate sexism in the workplace. As you prepare to enter the workforce, you need to be aware that this is something you may find that you have to deal with, along with other types of toxic coworkers.
Whether it’s overt or subtle, sexism can be found in many professional environments even after all the hard work women have put in over the last several decades to prove that they deserve to be treated the same as their male counterparts. Not only that, Career Contessa explains it’s tricky to deal with; women are often expected to put up with sexist jokes and comments about their appearance or else be labeled as “difficult” or “humorless.”
There are some ways to combat these issues, however, and they vary depending on each individual’s level of comfort with them. For instance, some women are completely okay with being bold and assertive when a male coworker crosses a line, while others might feel like their job was at stake if they didn’t go directly to a supervisor. How you choose to deal with sexism is very personal, but rest assured: many women have already gone through the same thing and came out on the other side.
High Heels & Hot Flashes outlines some of the best ways to combat these issues in the workplace.
Make Him Think Twice
Many women have made complaints over the years about a male coworker commenting on their appearance or making jokes of a sexual nature at their expense. If this happens to you, simply turn the tables and ask him if he would speak to a male colleague in such a way. The exchange doesn’t have to be a hostile one, if you feel comfortable enough with him to keep the conversation light; however, putting his words into a different context can help him see how inappropriate they are.
Don’t Leave Room for an Argument
Many women are tentative about standing firm on a position because they don’t want it to cost them their jobs, but most businesses — especially professional environments — have protocols in place to protect employees from sexual harassment and retaliation. If someone makes a negative or sexual comment about a person’s gender or appearance, you absolutely have the right to call them on it.
It’s best to sit down with them in private — or with an HR rep — and have a talk rather than doing it in front of your coworkers. Don’t give them a chance to argue; simply state that you don’t feel the comment was appropriate and should be kept out of the workplace.
If you’re constantly being singled out by a coworker or supervisor to perform “domestic” duties that fall outside of your job description, yet you notice that your male coworkers never have to do them — think ordering lunch, cleaning the bathroom, etc. — take note of each instance. ComplyRight points out you should stick with facts, like dates and times, and avoid emotional embellishments. That way, when you decide to have a sit down about a complaint, you’ll have evidence to back up your claims.
This is also helpful in instances where the same person repeatedly makes sexist jokes or comments, or turns you down for a promotion or meaningful project in favor of a male coworker.
Living Well is the Best Revenge
Not all unhealthy workplaces are meant to be endured. One obvious solution is to move onward and upward. It may be time to advance your career in a new environment, perhaps even one of your own making. Consider refreshing your resume to look for a new position elsewhere, or better yet, maybe even start a business yourself. A career coach can help you with ironing out details like brushing up on your application details and interviewing skills.
If entrepreneurialism is your goal, cover business basics so you have a firm foundation. Select an appropriate and unique name for your new venture, formalize your business plan and decide what business structure is right for you. Many professionals like the protection an LLC (limited liability company) offers. It’s also easy to start, thanks to various online services. Sort out the pros and cons — like tax advantages and such — to help you decide.
The more you know about this subject even before you’ve experienced it, the better prepared you will be to deal with it accordingly.
Brad Krause: firstname.lastname@example.org