How to Survive…Being a Woman in a Male Dominated Workplace

Being a Woman in a Male Dominated Workplace

So, here’s the scenario.  You’ve just started a new job (not necessarily the job of your dreams but it pays the bills and it’s decent money) and you walk into work on your first day, smart as a carrot in your neatly ironed suit.  You look around and decide;

“This is definitely not a suit place.  I’m overdressed.  Massively.”

You can feel the entire office (comprised almost solely of men) staring at you as if you were the only cave-woman in the clan.  You make small talk and settle in, being polite and offering to make the odd cuppa here and there.  At the end of Day 1 you breathe a sigh of relief and decide it could be worse.  You could be back in the Fish Factory working in the chilled department, freezing your assets off day in day out.

By the third week, all of your colleagues feel more comfortable around you and have engaged in gentle banter.  Depending on your personality you might, like me, be okay with this.  You know your boundaries and your colleagues (or a good portion of them at least) also know how far to take it with you and don’t cross the line.

If the office Chauvinist Pig hasn’t materialized by now, you can bet it will only be a matter of weeks before he makes himself known.  When he does, he can choose to make life very difficult for you.  The day he tries to demand you make him a cup of tea is the day you pour scolding water on his genitals put him in his place.  Comments such as “know your place” or “women are best suited in the kitchen” or “no offense DARLIN’ but you don’t know what you’re talking about” are not welcome in this day and age and should not be allowed to let go.

If like me, you are a woman in a workplace which is male-dominated and there are a few cocky sexists working with you, try following the below steps:

#1 – Look into your rights and what can and cannot be challenged – if in doubt, join a union and speak to a rep.  A sexist member of staff can make your life very miserable indeed.

#2 – Set clear boundaries with your colleagues – you may or may not be okay with banter but whatever your preference, make sure your colleagues know so they don’t inadvertently overstep their boundaries with you.

#3 – Be confident – you got the job because you’re qualified and the chances are you’re actually pretty damn good at your job too!  You’re in-expendable so make sure everyone knows it (without bragging too much!)

#4 – Don’t let people push you around – you can accept tasks from higher management but don’t be “bossed around” just because people think they can treat you like that.  You’re a professional, not a 1940’s secretary with no rights.

#5 – Be strict but stay professional – you don’t want to end up on the wrong side of a disciplinary because you told someone where to go.  No one likes a burn-your-bra feminist so keep it professional but stick to your guns. 

Thankfully, a lot of modern day men are extremely respectful to us girls and we mostly don’t have issues.  Sadly there will always be that one office idiot who ruins it for everyone. Don’t let him get away with it. 

3 Comments

  1. I can’t make it right, if other men treated you poorly. I’m sad that you were exposed to their brashness and uncultured idiocy.

    I liked your advice about how to deal with sexism in that environment. Sound. Stable, and all effective without calling out anyone with a penis. This is the kind of empowerment I can get behind.

    For some perspective, I’m a male that works in a female dominated field. Frequently I hear vulgar comments made about me, stereotypical expectations, and deeply intimate and personal details about me guessed at. Maybe one day, I’ll be able to speak to a rep or HR about it without being laughed at!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That’s awful! Often, women can be just as bad men. One day, companies will realise that an even number of men and women equally divided within the workforce is the way forward!

      Like

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