No matter what your profession, industry or employer, everyday sexism exists and unlike sexual harassment, everyday sexism is rarely raised or complained about.
It can be either intentional or unintentional and is evident in workplace interactions, systems and policies. It impacts both organizational culture and individual careers.
According to a recent report, everyday sexism at work manifests in six distinct ways.
- Insults masquerading as jokes
This is the most frequently encountered form of everyday sexism, experienced by women and men, and consists of sexist remarks or jokes, and insulting terms based on gender.
- Devaluing women’s views or voice
This includes men interrupting or talking over women, men over-explaining things as if women have no knowledge of the issue (‘mansplaining’), and women feeling like their views are not heard or supported until re-stated by a man.
- Role stereotyping
This includes making assumptions about suitability for roles and tasks, on the basis of gender.
- Preoccupation with physical appearance
This includes comments made about body shape, size, physical characteristics or dress over skill and competence. This form of everyday sexism is especially a problem for women with a public profile, or who are in the media.
- Assumptions that caring and careers don’t mix
These assumptions affect both women and men when it comes to parenting. Women may be subjected to comments that imply poor parenting if they are to prioritize work equally to family, or may have their commitment to work questioned, due to flexibility.
Women may also find they’re expected to explain why they don’t have children. Meanwhile, men may feel discouraged (or even denied) from accessing flexible work due to assumptions that caring is a ‘women’s role’.
- Unmerited gender labelling
This can manifest as women being described as being ‘too bossy’ or too ‘emotional’ or ‘nice’ or ‘not assertive enough’. For men, it could be them being told they’re ‘too soft’.
How did you feel reading those? Enraged? It’s a harsh reality and the only way to tackle everyday sexism is for leaders to take action and ensure an equal share of voices in the workplace.
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