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Ways to close the door on sexism on the job

On Behalf of | Apr 21, 2017 | Sexual Harassment |

It may start out fairly innocuously. Perhaps, as the female staffer, you are routinely expected to make the coffee for meetings. Or maybe you start expecting to see “Honey” or “Sweetheart” typed on your paycheck because that’s all that the big boss ever calls you.

What you have, actually, is subtle sexism at play in the workplace. Read on for ways to turn the tide of sexism on the job.

Speak up when faced with sexist comments about your appearance or being assigned coffee duty every morning simply because you lack a Y chromosome. If you can do this while maintaining your sense of humor, it takes the sting out of your words while hopefully letting the message sink in.

Sometimes you can have an honest talk with your boss about gender — without ever mentioning the word “gender.” Bring it up casually that you have been asked to make the coffee for the last eight meetings and would like to start a rotation. Have this discussion in a non-confrontational way when it’s just the two of you. Offer to help set up a system where everyone gets to demonstrate their barista skills.

Subordinates are used to bringing up the yuks when the boss cracks a joke, but don’t add your laughter to the chorus when the topic is sexist. Remain impassive while making eye contact with the one making inappropriate comments. That may be enough to deter further inappropriate attempts at humor.

Another often effective response is to ask the speaker to repeat their sexist comment. Hearing it again may be sufficient to stifle it next time.

The same goes for asking the individual to explain the sexist remark for you. Being forced to qualify one’s sexism can be increasingly difficult to do, and may shut it down.

But sometimes the simplest and best way to handle blatant sexism in the workplace is to call it out for what it is — inappropriate and not okay on the job.

If it continues to occur despite your low-key efforts to deter it, begin keeping a log of examples of both subtle and overt sexism on the job.

This will provide you with the ammunition you may need if you decide to take up the matter with Human Resources or an outside employment attorney as part of a discrimination case against your employer.

Source: Bustle, “8 Ways You Can Shut Down Sexism In The Workplace,” Lara Rutherford-Morrison, accessed April 21, 2017