12 Women on Sexism at Work: It’s Still a Thing & It Still Sucks

Wendy Robinson | Dec 20, 2016 Money
12 Women on Sexism at Work: It’s Still a Thing & It Still Sucks
Image: iStock.com/MachineHeadz

iStock.com/MachineHeadzDoes anyone else feel like they are living in a time warp? I know the calendar says what year it is, but then I watch the news and suddenly it sounds like the 1950s all over again. We still hear about sexism regularly in the news and in headlines, which means way too many of us are having to relive all the times we've dealt with discrimination in our lives. Especially when it comes to the workplace.

As a boss, I regularly see women who are totally killing it professionally, but I also know that work is a place where too many women have dealt with creepy bosses, rude coworkers, and opportunities denied because of their gender. 

I believe that there is power in telling our stories, especially given that there are some people who seem to think we're still living back in the Mad Men days. 

So read on and respect these 12 women for sharing the truth about those crappy moments when being a woman still matters way too much at work.

  • Leadership


    "I've been criticized in annual reviews for being too assertive and told I need to have a gentler approach in my emails. My male coworkers are also assertive, but for them, it's applauded and called 'taking charge' and 'leadership.'" -- Jenn R. 

  • Short Skirt

    iStock.com/Mie Ahmt

    "I had a boss when I was in fund-raising and development who suggested I should wear a 'short skirt' (i.e., dress provocatively) for a donor meeting to ensure we got the gift. I had another boss who called me and a colleague into his office to ask us to talk to another woman about her hair, which he thought needed to be 'more attractive.'" -- Jessica P. 

  • Desk Job


    "When I politely mentioned at an area managers' meeting that perhaps we shouldn't characterize women as 'just wanting a desk job so they can file their nails all day,' I managed to get a talking-to from my district manager the next time I had an evaluation. [It was] about 'making people feel uncomfortable.'" -- Sara H.

    More from CafeMom: 7 Moments of Blatant Sexism That Took Place More Recently Than You Think

  • The Intern


    "As an intern for a trade association, I had a senior-level guy ask me to come to his pool party. Keep in mind, this was DC -- like six months after the Monica [Lewinsky] scandal. I declined but told my very feminist, very protective boss who ripped him a new one and made him write me an apology letter." -- Sara S. 

  • Maternity Leave


    "I was 16 weeks pregnant when I was hired at my last job. My boss was fantastic after I told him two weeks in. But his boss was so obviously annoyed by it. When I came back from maternity leave, he said to me in front of my team, 'Now don't be doing that again anytime soon!' This is the guy who always looked women up and down before speaking too. He had some many cliché comments and sexist metaphors too. Ugh! Luckily my boss was a rock star and the icky one was only in the office occasionally." -- Virginia R.

  • The Bad Client


    "My client told me he had a question about something in the single stall toilet room right before our grand opening, and when the door almost closed behind me, he grabbed my arm and tried to kiss me. He had been acting weird prior, complimenting my clothes and stuff. It was super awful. 

    I knew going into it that he had affairs and used empty apartments to have sex, but this was so weird. AND the company treated me like I was some sort of gold digger. After putting up with him for two years, I finally told the HR person it's him or me." -- Jennifer K. 

  • Mrs. Engineer


    "At more than a few social meetings with engineers, other (always male) engineers assume that my husband is the engineer. It happens enough that my husband makes a game out of it and sees how long he can 'talk engineer' before they realize he has no idea what he is talking about." -- Patty K. 

  • You Work for Me


    "My very first annual review as an architect, I was told I wasn't getting a raise because they didn't like the way I answered the phone. 

    Also, I could go on FOREVER about having to convince contractors that I AM an architect and I DO know what I'm talking about. You work for ME, dumb ass." -- Jenny Y.

  • Construction Issues


    "I have worked in the construction industry most of my life. It was like a ticking time bomb. I've been called all the dumb pet names, propositioned for sex, been told to not run home to daddy, and my favorite, 'do you spit or swallow?'

    Who knows how many times I answered a question and the client wanted to talk to my boss -- who said the exact same thing. The biggest thing was the attitude that I didn't know anything about construction. Despite my 10 years of working directly with the project manager and growing up with a carpenter father." -- Mary F.

  • No Front Lines


    "In the military, there was a lot of sexism. I constantly got passed up for promotions because I was a woman, and once had a commander who actually told me that he wouldn't promote me because he couldn't see a female leading troops on the front lines. FYI, we don't have 'front lines' anymore." -- Amanda N. 

  • Not Okay


    "My supervisor in a chain restaurant asked if he could feel my boobs. When I said no, he shrugged and said, 'Okay. I just wondered what they felt like.' 

    I was 21. I was like, Well, I guess that's just how restaurants are. Lots of times I have been asked to not lift heavy things, move tables. 'Let someone else get that.' Even when I would say, 'It's fine, I am plenty strong enough, I am no more likely to hurt myself than anyone else,' still ... 'Greg can do it.'" -- Carrie N.

  • Not a Kid


    "A small but frustrating moment of sexism: being called 'young lady' by a peer. Like exact same job and exact same 'level' until I called him on the sh-t." -- Kathy C.

    More from CafeMom: 25 Most Sexist Laws Around the World

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