We know that even in 2015, women earn less than men for the same work. It’s unfortunate and we work to change the system. But while we work to make that happen for the society at-large, we can also fight the subtle sexism that we might encounter daily in the workplace.
Here’s a few ways to deal with subtle sexism in the office:
1. Don’t laugh at the sexist jokes.
Problematic jokes can be really funny. Whether it’s women in the kitchen jokes or unmarried jokes, a lot of the time, women face these subtle microaggressions in the form of humor. And although we can let out the odd laugh every now and then because well, we are human. It should not be common practice to always make ourselves the butt of the joke and play along. Those subtle behaviors reinforce sexist work.
2. Proudly be “one of the girls.”
Especially if you are in a male-dominated company or industry, it can be tempting to want to be “one of the boys.” Sometimes even to the detriment of the other women we might be working with. From our workplace style to our conversation tactics, proudly assert yourself in your womanhood. Women can and are powerful just by being women, so bring the best you to table without feeling the need to “man up.” Woman up.
3. Remember you don’t have to be the only woman at the top.
This is a trap many women tend to fall into when they start really getting into your career. For some reason even if you find yourself equally among men and women, it is easy to see only the women as your competition; your rivals. Believe it or not, there is usually much more room at the top than we think there is. And there certainly always is for more than just one woman. If you’re going to compete, let everyone be your competition.
4. Use your words.
Sometimes you simply have to use your words. I have been in uncomfortable situations where I point-blank questioned if what was being said or done to me was because I’m a woman. People become very nervous when you call out a situation for what it is. rather than playing polite politics with them. And indeed you always make sure that you keep yourself in check, but sometimes you must call a spade and spade. No one is going to defend you and your interests better than you.
5. Play-up your achievements.
One of the biggest ways women fail because of the way we’re socialized as girls is playing down our achievements. It’s time to end that. If you do something great, let people know. If you have great ideas, let people know. If you have more to offer, let people know. You definitely have to be able to back yourself up when you play-up your achievements. But as long as you can and still stay humble, you’re subtly doing a world of good for your career and all the other women who will come after you.