A couple of weeks ago, I accompanied one of my lady friends to check on a car that she was interested in. As we walked around the yard, she spotted another model that she liked, but the dealer told her that it had taken a while to sell and was therefore older than what she wanted.
This is where everything went south. When we asked why it hadn’t been bought, the dealer, a man, told us that that question was akin to asking a 40-year old woman why she was not married.
To say we were stunned would be an understatement. We were categorical in the fact that these kind of sexist statements are not acceptable, even in the face of him insisting he did not see what the big deal was.
I always hear of women complaining about such clueless comments far more than I am comfortable with. Do you ignore the offender and hope he or she will stop or confront the offense publicly?
In many workplaces, sexism is frowned upon by both men and women but usually, people are afraid to speak up against it. However, if you are in a workplace where you constantly feel uncomfortable because of the snide comments against women, you have every right to take action.
Does the leadership team encourage or tolerate this kind of behavior, which would imply it is ingrained in culture? If not, then approach the offender and call out the behavior.
If no remorse is shown, then escalate it. Speak with HR on what the rules of the organizations state regarding harassment and sexism. Either way, do not suffer in silence as it only encourages this to go on.
Sometimes, sexism in the workplace is a form of bullying that is used to subdue people.
Calling out the offenders in public as soon as the offending remark is made is a way of tackling it but you must be willing to stand up publicly for what you believe in.
Are other women similarly uncomfortable? You must agree to support each other against the bully whether it is in a meeting or in an informal setting.
There are remarks that are made to silence women and demean their contribution. Say you get passionate about a concept and a man asks you to stop being so emotional.
The intention is to get people to disregard you, even though there is nothing wrong with being passionate.
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Pay attention to gender-specific language that is intended to demean your contribution and call it out.