Top 5 Struggles at Work Only Women Will Understand


Women may have made it into the workforce, but we’re still battling with some sexist ideas of our roles in the office. Here are the top five things women in the office struggle with.

1. Determination Comes Off as Bitchiness

In 2007, Glenn Beck blasted Hillary Clinton on his syndicated radio show as being a “stereotypical bitch.” Women in offices typically struggle with the idea that they are supposed to behave as the gentler sex. In the workplace, powerful women who choose to exercise that power are often categorized as being a bitch. When men exhibit that identical display of force, they are called strong, fierce and determined. When powerful women refuse to back down from a debate, or know exactly what they want and go for it, the bitch label gets pinned on them. Oftentimes, a woman in the office faces a choice of either being called a bitch behind her back or getting labeled as a pushover whom no one takes seriously.

2. Our Gender Is Called a Distraction

In 2015, British biochemist Sit Tim Hunt claimed that women don’t belong in the lab. He suggested that female scientists be segregated because they are a distraction for their male counterparts. "Three things happen when [women] are in the lab,” Hunt proclaimed while making an address at the World Conference of Science Journalists in South Korea. “You fall in love with them, they fall in love with you, and when you criticize them, they cry." The reaction from female scientists was visceral, and a flurry of Instagram posts of decidedly unsexy women scientists at work lit up social media. Unfortunately, this kind of perverted view of the female sex permeates offices around the world. Thank goodness Nobel prize-winning physicist Marie Curie isn’t around to hear this ridiculousness.

3. Traditional Roles Follow Us to Work

In “Frame Toby,” a season 5 episode of The Office, Pam (who is by now no longer the temp) is cajoled by Ryan to clean the disgusting office microwave. This is a typical scenario that women in offices everywhere have to struggle with. When it comes time to clean out office refrigerators, wash the mugs or make coffee, the woman in the office is usually the one naturally called upon to do it. It seems that even businesswomen working in the office are expected to clean up after men, just like they’re supposedly meant to do at home.

4. Our In-Basket Is the Office Dumping Ground

For some reason, it’s assumed that women should take care of everything that no one else wants to take care of in the office. That’s why our inboxes are never empty. Instead, they tower high with papers that need to be filed, business cards to organize, broken staplers, crumpled scraps that got caught in the copier, and empty cracker boxes to remind us to stop at the store and buy some more “in our spare time.” Smart women have learned to remove the inbox from their desk entirely so they can laugh inside as people struggle to figure out where to put the empty coffee can they’re trying to dump off.

5. We Do Our Job Too Well

Women in offices who excel at their jobs are often overlooked for promotion. The reasoning? They’re needed. Male executives come to rely on their capable female assistants so much that they avoid recommending them for advancement. That so-called glass ceiling may just be the glass partition between your desk and your boss’s office. It’s a struggle to find a male boss who is confident enough to let his secretary work her way up the corporate ladder. In order to get ahead, many women find they have to leave the company altogether and make the vertical move elsewhere.

The struggles that women have to deal with every day in the office are getting weaker as the years go by. The more women speak up about the prejudices they face, the more ludicrous those prejudices become in the light of reasoning. There’s still a long road ahead, but most women are used to walking long distances, even in high heels.

As a woman, what kind of things do you have to deal with at the office? Let us know in the comments below.

Media Matters for America
The New York Times