Women Reveal Stories of Sexism in the Workplace
After an Uber board member’s wisecrack and the interruption of Senator Kamala Harris during a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing, The New York Times asked women to share their own experiences. More than 1,000 responded, offering up vivid anecdotes of times they had been interrupted, penalized for speaking up, belittled or discriminated against in terms of salary, promotions or pregnancy. Some women asked to have their names withheld, fearing career repercussions. Several comments have been condensed for space.
Some women recalled moments when they relayed an idea during a meeting, only to have a male colleague chime in later and claim it as his own:
“I work in the oil and gas and power generation industry, and I am surrounded by mostly males. I offer suggestions and comments during meetings, and often my suggestions do not even get acknowledged. Then, moments later, a male in the room offers up my suggestion and claims it as his own, and everyone acts real supportive and cheers it on, so to speak.
“I have been on email threads with a team of colleagues, and if I state a fact that is not in agreement with what one of my male co-workers has said, he sends me a message later telling me that I need to ‘soften my responses’ to him.
“I have been told by friends and family members that have not seen me for a while that I speak ‘with such authority,’ even just in friendly conversation outside of work, and that I ‘sort of talk more like a guy.’ I am certain I picked this up at work, as I need to seem as ‘unfeminine’ as possible in order to be taken seriously.”
— Jennifer Kelly
Some women shared stories about having sexist remarks hurled at them during meetings or having their contributions ignored:
“I was the only female partner on a consulting team bidding for some client work. And I was the only one who had significant experience and expertise in this particular situation. And yet my input was significantly ignored. When I showed my frustration I was publicly and privately chastised, and threatened with, ‘If you behave like this … I’m not sure you should be consulting to clients.’ This was 25 years into my consulting career.”
— Mel Lowe
Some women spoke broadly of the gender pay gap, but many shared specific stories of being paid less than a male counterpart:
“One of my most recent favorites was during an annual performance review. I was told I wasn’t getting a raise (not even a cost-of-living increase), so I was a bit taken aback. My manager’s response? ‘It doesn’t matter. Your money is just for fun, anyway.’”
— Name Withheld
Possibly the worst instances of gender inequality in the workplace occur when men do not place any confidence in the experience that females hold:
“I work at a wastewater treatment plant, and hold a license in the field. I literally have men come into our plant, see me and ask, ‘Is there a man I can talk to?’ I’ve also been accused of ‘sleeping my way into the job.’ You know, because every woman dreams of sleeping her way into the sewer industry.”
— Kristina Gossman
Read more on nytimes.com.