When it comes to colleagues it’s pretty much a matter of luck if you are going to get decent ones or stupid ones. Stupid colleagues are the bane of every employee’s existence; they make work difficult, they make life at work difficult and they often make life after work difficult because in all honesty, how many of us can let go of work when they leave work?
Women have a more difficult time in the workplace than men, think of gender pay-gap for example; wage discrimination just because you were born a woman. It’s infuriating, but the hard truth is that it happens in most work places out there. And it’s not like that’s the only problem women need to deal with at work. Every single woman out there would tell you that what’s truly difficult, on a day to day basis, is dealing with sexist remarks from colleagues.
These remarks make them uncomfortable and they make them more self-aware; it shifts their focus from work, while it also makes them feel small and insignificant. And we are not talking Mad Men sexist comments; your colleagues are not likely to make fun of you if you want to be a copywriter just because you are a woman and you won’t need to sleep with a slimy client with the blessings of your boss if you want to rise to the top. Today’s modern woman has a whole set of other sexist comments to deal with, and even though they might be subtle, that’s not to say they still don’t make us feel bad.
Our male counterparts are only casually sexist these days, but it’s stupid to think that it doesn’t count. Of course it counts; it counts just as much as it counted back in Don Draper’s day. The only difference is that unlike Peggy and Joan, we have a voice we can use and a legal system on our side (well, most of the time).
If you are a man in the workplace you need to understand that being born a woman is no different to being born a man- gender is what we make of it, so don’t be stupid. Realize that being sexist is not a joke; it’s a conscious choice you make which speaks to your character. Below, we’ve put together a list of the top three casually sexist things men have been known to say in the workplace. Go through them and understand that if you’ve been casually saying them, you need to stop ASAP.
1. The Girls
I’m sorry, are you still in kindergarten? Female colleagues are not girls, they are women, so by referring to them as girls you are essentially assigning the cutsie tootsie identity to them, which in the workplace means that they are there to be cute while their work is insignificant. Stop being patronizing and start referring to your female colleagues by their names.
2. Office Mum
Office mums are usually women who tend to pay attention to the rest of the people in the office, they bring home-made cake every once in a while, they remember everyone’s birthdays and they are the ones who are usually in charge of buying presents. While without a doubt there are women who like to do that, just as there are men, by calling a colleague the ‘office mum’ you are essentially denying her professional capacity. Eat the cake and thank her but recognize that your female colleague is there as a professional just as you are.
There used to be a time when women were expected to smile and be pretty. That was a really long time ago. Today women are allowed to be upset, moody and emotional, just as men are. Feelings have not been known to discriminate based on gender, so stop telling your female colleague to smile just because she’s in a mood that doesn’t make you happy. As an adult she is allowed to be in whatever mood she wants. Respect that, offer your help if you are that keen on helping but never offer your suggestions on how she should feel or act.
Discrimination in the workplace is not a laughing matter. It comes in many forms and it targets different marginalized groups each time. And while it’s true that progress has been made for women in the workplace, there are still other groups who are truly suffering the consequences of discriminatory remarks, whether those groups are LGBT, people with disabilities or have different ethnic backgrounds, it’s wrong and we should all make an effort to put an end to it.
What are the most sexist remarks you have heard at work? Let us know below…