How to Deal with Workplace Sexism

08 July, 2020
Sexism continues to be present in many workplaces around the world. Many women, fearing being fired, feel unable to cope with the situation. In this article, discover how to deal with workplace sexism.
 

Are you a victim of workplace sexism? Are you fed up with sexist jokes and inappropriate comments? You don’t have to put up with them and there are ways to deal with the situation and put an end to it.

In this article, we’ll explain how!

Workplace sexism

Sexism still exists nowadays in many work environments. Indeed, jokes or “funny” comments are some forms of sexism that some colleagues may participate in, whether it be consciously or unconsciously. Even after showing your disapproval, you may hear comments such as “Don’t be like that, it’s just a joke”. Well, no. It’s not a joke.

In other cases, the use of nicknames for females is also very popular. However, in the most extreme cases, women may even be victims of discredit and discrimination. In any case, whether they’re inappropriate jokes or comments or the men on the staff receive privileged treatment, you shouldn’t have to put up with it.

A woman holding a #MeToo poster.
Male chauvinistic behaviors range from small comments or jokes to discredit and even abuse.
 

On the other hand, they aren’t easy to deal with, considering that the culprits are your colleagues and the people you spend many hours of the day with. Also, women tend to seek to find a balance with their colleagues to avoid conflicts and putting their job at risk.

Many women’s opinions aren’t taken seriously only because they’re women. Others, for example, stand up to workplace sexism only to endure the classic “She must be on her period”.

Workplace sexism manifests in many more ways. How many women in the world have heard “I want to talk to the manager” from clients because they believe they won’t be able to solve their problem? You must stand up to it! If you consent, you’ll only allow them to take things further and respect you less and less.

This article may interest you: The Most Common Sexist Beliefs

Make your position on workplace sexism clear

Just because sexist jokes or comments are a reality in many societies doesn’t mean that you have to laugh too. For this reason, when a colleague says something sexist, simply don’t laugh and clearly express your displeasure.

 

Also, if you hear comments such as “Don’t be like that” to your reaction, then let them know the reasons why the joke isn’t funny and why it’s offensive.

Indeed, your colleague may not even be aware of the nature of their comment. This way, you won’t only make your position clear, but you’ll also help your colleagues become aware that sexism continues to exist in many facets of our culture and is very offensive.

Can you repeat that?

A woman saying "no" to inappropriate behavior.
Remember that you should express your opinions regarding what is or isn’t offensive to a woman.

Occasionally, sexist and offensive comments are heard in the workplace. The best strategy is to ask your colleague to repeat the comment out loud. This way, you expose them.

Also, it’s even more effective to ask them to explain why the comment seems so funny or appropriate. This way, they’ll realize that the comment was really offensive, sexist, and totally out of place.

 

Would you say the same thing if I was a man?

Many times, colleagues are sexist without even realizing it. Therefore, when faced with these types of attitudes or comments, it’s best to make them understand why their actions or words are sexist.

However, the best way to do this is by not explaining yourself why it is. On the contrary, it’s much better to let them understand that they’re indeed being sexist. Thus, when faced with certain actions or comments, ask them “Would you say or do the same thing if I was a man?”

This question will make them think about and doubt their own behavior.

A private talk to clarify workplace sexism

A woman who got fired from her job.
The fear of being fired shouldn’t paralyze you. Take action and act for the good of all women.

If you think that it’s a good option, you can opt for speaking privately with your sexist colleague. Thus, without having to expose you or them, you can explain the reason for your discomfort with their behavior.

 

Be clear and assertive. Explain why their comments, jokes, or actions aren’t funny or appropriate at all. However, remember that you aren’t negotiating anything: it’s your right to be respected as an equal.

You may also want to read: Learn How to Defend Yourself from Criticism and Be Assertive

If the issue is serious, seek help and report

It may be the case that, despite making your position clear and clearly explaining the offensiveness of certain behaviors or words, sexism doesn’t stop.

In addition, it may also be the case that your own superior or boss is sexist, which is much more difficult to deal with. In these cases, if despite having talked privately with this person or having made your position clear, they still act sexist with you, don’t hesitate. You have to defend yourself!

Don’t hesitate to report them. In addition, the fear of being fired shouldn’t be an obstacle for you to report that you’re being harassed at work. In many countries, government services monitor equality and the eradication of workplace sexism and bullying.

 

Therefore, don’t hesitate and report the incident to the authorities. Also, remember that you’re not only doing it for yourself but for all the women who’ve gone through or are going through the same thing.

 
  • De Dios González, S. (2017). 6 formas diferentes de discriminación sexista. Retrieved May 1, 2019, from https://lamenteesmaravillosa.com/6-formas-diferentes-de-discriminacion-sexista/
  • Ministerio de Trabajo, M. y S. S. (n.d.). Inspección de Trabajo y Seguridad Social. Retrieved May 1, 2019, from http://www.mitramiss.gob.es/itss/web/Utilidades/FAQs/IYP/iyp.html