Below are the most common issues women experience at work and, most importantly, how to handle the situation should it happen to you.
Mansplaining – a term coined to describe a behaviour of some men, who take it upon themselves to explain very simple things to women – is a problem throughout life, but it’s a particular problem in the workplace. If you find yourself constantly being condescended to by a male colleague, it can knock your confidence and make your office environment a tough place to be.
How To Handle It
Essentially, don’t stand for it. If someone begins to over-explain somethings to you, just — politely — say: “yes I do understand that, thank you.” You don’t have to listen to mansplaining; you have a right to say no, that’s enough, and move the conversation on. Hopefully in time, your thoughtless colleague will get the message.
We all want to be seen as invaluable to our boss; a valued part of the team whose input is important. However, some men have a tendency to overlook women when it comes to promotion – often because they assume that women won’t want to advance their careers. This assumption is based on the societal issue wherein women are often dismissed as only having careers as something they do before they have a child.
How To Handle It
Firstly, dealing with this issue depends on your workplace. If you work in male-dominated industries, such as tech, then you may need to be more forthright. You may need to outright tell your boss that you are hoping for advancement, perhaps at your performance review. Say that you want to advance and you’ll work to achieve it; there’s nothing wrong with showcasing your ambition.
In more egalitarian industries, such as marketing, you can afford to be more relaxed if you prefer. Try things like dropping mentions of how you’re studying for a post-grad marketing qualification at RMIT University with an intention to improve your career prospects; or that you’re hoping to find further advancement opportunities that allow you to take on responsibility. If you want to be more forthright then go for it, but you don’t have to in the same way you would with STEM careers.
It would be impossible to discuss the workplace issues that women experience without discussing sexual harassment, especially in the current environment. The #metoo campaign has shed a light on the day-to-day issues that women experience, seemingly as a matter of course.
If you find yourself experiencing any form of sexual harassment in the workplace (no matter how seemingly minor; all sexual harassment is a problem) then here’s how to deal with it:
- Speak to your boss or superior. You can do this in writing if you feel it would be too difficult to talk about in person.
- If nothing is done (which is, sadly, possible), then advance to the next level of the organisation and make a formal complaint.
- Sexual harassment can also be reported to the police, especially if behaviour from a colleague follows you out of the workplace.
- If your office still doesn’t deal with the issue, contact your union and complain.
- If you feel able to, amplify the message on social media to exert pressure on the company you work for. If you don’t feel you can face this, that’s fine too.
- Consider your legal options; you may have the right to sue the company and/or the perpetrator if nothing has been done to resolve the issue.
It’s truly tragic how many women complain of sexual harassment and find their cases are dismissed. If you experience this, then it’s important you escalate the matter; never feel like you should just forget about it. You have a right to be heard and the issue halted and dealt with appropriately. While you go through the complaint procedure with your company, it may be wise to speak to a therapist to help you manage the situation emotionally.
While the workplace is a better place to be than it once was, there’s no doubt that women still face obstacles over the course of their career. If you experience any of these issues, the strategies above should help you move past them, giving you the chance to experience a brighter, happier future in your career.