Sexism in the workplace is becoming increasingly common and although it is a real problem, but it is still a complicated topic to address. We know this a reoccurring issue as the gender pay gap still exists and women are still underrepresented in the top jobs.
Many women experience indirect forms of discrimination including sexist jokes, rude comments and have to complete certain office tasks that wouldn’t be asked of a man. However it is a difficult problem to navigate with many females feeling like they have to tolerate this behaviour in fear of being labelled as “moody” or “sensitive”.
Addressing the issue can be awkward but most companies have sexual harassment and discrimination policies in place for the obvious incidences. However it is harder to know how to handle everyday sexism that appears in a more subtle form. There is no simple answer on what to do in these situations without possibly facing a backlash from fellow colleagues but it shouldn’t be tolerated, so here are some tips to try if you have to deal with everyday sexism.
If you are always been targeted with the “office housework” which includes tasks such as making tea, or filing paperwork, take a moment to ask your employer for a simple explanation as to why you are repeatedly tasked with these duties.
Switch it around
If someone in your workplace makes a sexist comment, ask that person if they would have said the same thing to man e.g. “Do you comment on your male co-workers work”, “Would you of said comment that to a man”. These questions can be asked in a non-aggressive way that and can be a simple way to address a problem without appearing threatening.
Have a private chat
Some people can get defensive and annoyed when called out in front of others, however if you feel that a colleague is being sexist pull them to one side and ask them to discuss the matter. It is good to make your position clear and it may make them think twice about what they saying.
Don’t laugh at the jokes
Don’t laugh at the jokes– If your colleagues are making sexist jokes, it is best not to laugh at all or even show a reaction to what was said. This will make your stance clear and show the class clown that he/she isn’t funny.
Ask them to repeat what they said
When a sexist remark or joke is made, respond by asking that person to repeat it. Sometimes being forced to say it again will remove the context, put them in an awkward position, and may make that person realise that what was said is inappropriate and not funny.
Keep a record and approach your employer
If sexism is a recurring issue in your workplace then it is a good idea to keep a record of it. This can also be helpful in the future when you approach the HR department or your boss about the problems you have experienced.
If it is interfering with your ability to complete your work properly or it is bringing you down emotionally then file a formal complaint. They should value you as an employee and take action on your problems.
Everyone has their different ways of coping with sexism but no one should have to deal with it every day, especially in their workplace.
Words: Georgia Knight
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