Okay readers, I could really use your help with this one..today we are talking about sexism. Yesterday I had a very interesting conversation with a female coworker of mine that really got me fired up. She felt like our office has a problem with sexism –that our office is a boy’s club. Her evidence? All the directors are men as well as the VP. Earlier this week it was announced that a male colleague was chosen to take on a major project in our department. He has been receiving a lot of recognition for it. My coworker believes that the men look out for each other in our department. The women in the department get stuck doing more routine and basic work and the men are able to get the interesting and challenging work. My mind was literally racing after she told me this. I’ve been working at this company for six months and didn’t see that coming at all. How could I have missed it?
What is sexism?
I think most of us have all heard of sexism before. Sexism is defined as discrimination based on a person’s sex or gender.
Trying to figure out if sexism exists in a workplace is incredibly challenging . I’ve thought about it a lot. There’s no single test you can run to determine if sexism exists. To further complicate the matter, workplace sexism can be unintentional. I don’t think that the VP had a meeting with the directors and said let’s promote all the men and make them all managers. But at the same time you have to wonder, why is it that men hold all the director positions?
Is it Sexism?
Part of what makes identifying sexism so difficult is that it is nearly impossible to gather the facts you need to assess the situation. Could there just be circumstances that my coworker isn’t aware of? Perhaps this male coworker asked to take on this special project? Or maybe none of my female colleagues wanted to work on the project? Maybe my coworker is just frustrated in her own career and uses sexism as a scapegoat? I don’t know.
I think personality and age might place a role in our perception of sexism.. though I could be totally wrong about that. Thoughts? What may appear as sexist to me and my coworker (millennials) may not seem like sexism to my manager and senior manager (both baby boomer females). I get the impression that my coworker has raised the issue to our manager before and expressed concern. From what my coworker has told me, our manager does not believe there is an issue.
I for one have never really felt discriminated against because I was a female. I believe I’m getting paid market rate and have been able to work on my fair share of projects. So far I’ve felt satisfied with my career. I work hard and on a general note, I think I am recognized for that work. I suspect however that the game becomes much more family when you start a family and deal with things like maternity leave and the needs of a young family.
Have you ever dealt with sexism in the workplace? What made you sure it was going on? How did you address it? Do you feel like sexism is an issue at your workplace?
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