As women of the world, we are all confronted at some point or another with chauvinism, misogyny, or a general lack of male understanding. Yes, it is 2019, and we have made great strides towards equality for women in and out of the workplace, but there is still work to do.
When you find yourself in a sexist workplace in which you are silenced, excluded, or overlooked altogether, how do you handle it? Answering this question is much easier said than done, as instances of toxic masculinity at work and in everyday life are often more subliminal than the scenarios we conjure up in our heads.
We can rally and march and speak our truths, but we must also equip ourselves to handle these inequities head on, as they occur. What empowers one woman may not empower us all. Some of us relish in the quiet victories, the credit given where it is due. Others will need to make a little more noise to feel heard.
I have compiled a short list of empowerments that I am striving to incorporate in my daily life, as I have recently found myself in a space that praises hyper-masculinity. My hope is that this list inspires you to reclaim your power if ever you find yourself in a sexist workplace threatening to take that power from you.
Find your voice.
Girl, speak your truth. Do you feel excluded by your male coworkers? Did Jim take credit for your idea again? Does office talk often involve the sexualization of women? Do people speak over you frequently? Find a way to say something.
Not everyone is comfortable speaking up in the meeting and saying, “Jim, thank you for reiterating my point,” and that is fine. But letting those comments slide time and again will only perpetuate the larger problem. Maybe you feel more comfortable meeting with HR to air your concerns or talking with Jim or your boss in private. Even if you need to cool off and send it in an email, make sure you are heard.
**Bonus empowerment: Sometimes it is easier to stand up for each other than it is to advocate for ourselves. Next time a female coworker is cut off in a meeting, try bringing the focus back to her. For example, “Brooke, I think you wanted to share something earlier.”
Related Content: 20 Must-Read Female Empowerment Books
Don’t go it alone.
If you are feeling disenfranchised by your boss, male coworkers, or the company culture at large, chances are your female peers are feeling it too.
Sure, misery loves company, but confiding in the women around you doesn’t have to be a complaint-fest. Foster a safe environment where you can openly discuss your concerns. Remember there is strength in numbers. The more women on board with your cause, the more likely you are to cause a stir with HR and inspire real change.
Honey, you are a grown ass woman. If you feel like the men around you are consistently being insensitive or flat-out toxic because of your womanhood, you’re probably not wrong.
You deserve a work environment in which you feel comfortable and are treated fairly. Demand what you deserve from that space. Recognize that we are socialized to be coy and demure in the face of adversity, and don’t let that instinct quiet the voice saying something isn’t right. Trust yourself and lean on your girl-group to back you up. If you feel singled out or are being made uncomfortable by a specific man on your team, ask your support system to pay more attention to your interactions with him.
Even in 2019, many struggle to believe women, and unfortunately that can fester from within. Don’t fall victim to the lies we tell ourselves (the it wasn’t that bads or the maybe I read the situation incorrectlys). Trust yourself and what you know to be true. Strive to be your biggest advocate. The least you can do is believe in yourself.
Unfortunately, leadership and corporate culture often still retain traditionally masculine virtues that add fuel to the fire in a sexist workplace. I am here to tell you that does not have to remain the case. Believe in yourself. Use your voice. Band together. We will make space for ourselves and the generations of female leaders to come.
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