One day, I dream of living in a world where women no longer have to ask the painful question, “How do I deal with sexism in the workplace?” From sexism to sexual discrimination to harassment or event assault, many women are unfortunately experiencing some very negative situations at the hands of their male coworkers.
In the real world, those terrible sexual harassment training courses they make you watch when you start a new job are of unfortunately little help. Meanwhile, sexism is more of a gray area; it is even trickier to define, and difficult to pinpoint or to deal with when it happens. Sexism and sexual harassment might be overt (out in the open) or covert (sneakier, more casual and possibly even more harmful).
If this is happening to you right now, you might be wondering what you can do about it. First, know your rights. Research the local laws in your area. Read your employee handbook. Talk to your human resources department, if you have one. It might also be a good idea to seek support outside of your workplace, whether from a trusted friend or relative, counselor, therapist or even a support group.
Next, you can start by speaking up. If it is safe for you to do so, ask the offender why they treated you that way. This makes them own their behavior. Don’t be afraid to report the incident to your local human resources team, if your company has one. Don’t be embarrassed; this is literally part of their job. It’s what the human resources department is there for.
A third (and crucial) step is to find your allies in the workplace. If you work in a supportive work environment, you will be able to find people who will take your side. If there are other women in your workplace, it is especially important to ask them about their experiences. There is a chance you’re not the only person experiencing sexism or sexual harassment. These conversations might be difficult, but they can be very revealing about the company culture.
In an ideal world, our offices are safe spaces where we spend upwards of 40 hours per week surrounded by a team of people that supports our professional advancement, helps us problem solve, trusts us with decision making, places us in positions of power and change, and provides pay equivalent to that of our male counterparts. Unfortunately, this is simply not a perfect world (far from it). Sadly, many women are experiencing sexism in the workplace first hand – yes, even now.
If this story sounds familiar to you, know that you are not alone. There are things you can do to combat sexism in the workplace. Together, we can build a world where women no longer deal with these painful situations at work – or anywhere else.
Photo courtesy of Pixabay by jamesoladujoye