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September 20, 2011

Stand Up For Yourself

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20 September 2011

It appears that in the working world, women simply learn to put up with sexist, and might even find themselves complicit in it.

After reading an article on Care2 about how, though most women say they would confront someone who made sexist remarks and take them to task, many actually don't. A Forbes Woman article refers to a study done among women: the majority of respondents originally claimed they would not answer sexist questions in a job interview, while 28% of them said they would actually confront the person. However, when these respondents were interviewed and crunch-time came, every single one of the women answered the offensive question. No one confronted the interviewer either.

I am sort of embarrassed to admit that I have never once taken anyone to task about a sexist comment - aside from my hubby - and I'd like to blame that on the fact that I am shy and prefer no confrontations in general. My work life is the same and, even more embarrassingly, I find myself complicit in these remarks. I smile at them - and shake my head that there are still people who hold those beliefs - and though inwardly I'm enraged that people can even suggest that the receptionist we hire must wear a short skirt every day as a prerequisite or any other such sexist comment, I laugh it off and shrug. "Silly men", I think, but isn't it really me who is being silly?

If there is no one to stand up to these comments, then will they not prosper?

It might be heartening to know that the Forbes Woman article claims that another study, at Loyola University in Chicago, which found that men who are confronted on their sexist comments are nicer to their confronter, even to the point of liking them, while those who remained silent were not as well liked. The men also lessened their use of sexist language.

The problem I have with personally taking someone to task for their comment is that sometimes such a conversation leads nowhere. The person whom you are confronting needs to be someone who already shows you some respect - because otherwise they really don't care what you think. A debate such as this could also lead to an uncomfortable workplace, because we all know what office politics are like.< Do you have such an experience, and what do you think is the solution?

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