Of course you work in a company in which there is no official discrimination on gender. But as a professional woman you still may be confronted with sexism. You have to become aware of the form sexism takes at the work place before you think about ways to deal with it.
Getting over denial
Even if you work in a company in which there is no official discrimination on gender, you may be confronted with sexism. The chances of being in such situation particularly increase if all of your managers are male or if you get involved in a project in which most of the other participants are men. You may hope for the best, but some of the clichés outlined below could occur, particularly at the beginning. Be prepared to put a halt to this behavior as fast as you can. This will establish a new and better direction for the work to be done.
It may be difficult for you to realize that sexism is affecting you because it seems that a lot of us women can be in denial regarding this issue and think
No, this is not happening to me, not at my work place.
Like a lot of women, you find yourself in a situation where it is hard to come to terms with such behaviors affecting your performance. Perhaps it is because you do not think of yourself as a feminist and want to believe that if you are good enough, your male colleagues and supervisors will not undermine you simply because you are a woman. You might even think it is your fault if it happens. This is when you need to take action and face the situation clearly. After all, remember that the problem comes from them, not you.
Some examples of sexism
You are sitting in a meeting mostly composed of male participants. You decide to share an idea and it is immediately dismissed or ignored. Down the road a male colleague/supervisor rephrase it and it suddenly gets recognized from the group.
You express your opinion on a topic. A male colleague immediately replies:
ok, let’s go back to business/more serious things now.
At the end, you are asked to send the minutes of the meeting to the group and scheduling the next one.
If your group is relying on research or documents to be prepared for the next session, your colleagues are now staring at you, blatantly awaiting your offer to take care of it. This means that you are good enough to do the ground work on which they will base their discussion but your opinion or analysis has no importance and they do not even inquire about it.
If you don’t intend to stay stuck in this situation, stay tuned. In my next article I will share some tips on what you can do to stop this behavior and be recognized in your capacity as a professional and able co-worker.
– This The Guardian article, on the topic of being aware of the problem
– the second part of this article with some tips on dealing with the situation