How Women Can Improve Their Careers by Fighting Sexism in the Workplace
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Wouldn’t it be great if sexism and gender inequality were a thing of the past? While that’s ideal, it’s not reality. As a woman in the workforce, you’ll undoubtedly deal with some unwelcome comments, unprovoked sexual attention, and patronizing words and actions. You may also discover that the pay gap is real and discrimination against women with children happens more than you thought. You want to improve your career, and you can! You just need to be prepared for what lies ahead.
Dealing With It
You can deal with sexism and gender inequality both directly and indirectly, and in ways that won’t compromise your image as a professional. Some discrimination is obvious, such as a crude comment about your outfit. However, not getting a promotion can be discrimination too. If you’re not sure it was really just an oversight on the part of the management team and not because of your gender, talk to your HR department.
If you want to be direct, take control of the situation by questioning any sexism or discrimination directed at you or another female coworker. The person is likely to see how his comments are interfering with the professionalism of the office and the personal comfort level of his coworkers. Likewise, if you feel like your gender is the reason you’re being asked to do an unnecessary task or why you’ve been overlooked for a raise, question it. Ask the person flat out if it’s because you’re a woman.
Although it sounds cliché, showing someone what women are capable is the best way shut down discrimination. At the next company meeting, bring new ideas or a well-prepared discussion. Similarly, own your achievements. Women are taught to downplay achievements, but that won’t help you in moving up the career ladder. Don’t blend in and risk being overlooked for a promotion. Tell people your great ideas. If you land a big account, don’t stay quiet about it.
Sometimes it’s best to ignore the person, but sometimes it’s okay to show that you’re offended. Try to read the situation and take the best course of action. Don’t be afraid to report to your supervisor and/or HR department. They are supposed to be well trained in dealing with sexual harassment and gender disrespect in the office without making a scene that could threaten your position. HR should step in and resolve the situation.
Not Dealing With It
A study showed that only women suffer psychological distress related to gender inequality. The author explains that in gender unequal situations at work, women are usually disadvantaged while men typically benefit. For example, women with children are less likely to be hired and less likely to be paid as much as a male colleague with the same qualifications. In contrast, men with children are more likely to be hired than men without children, and men usually have a pay increase after they become fathers.
When people suffer from psychological distress and mental health issues, they’re likely to attempt to self-medicate using drugs or alcohol. Unfortunately, abusing substances can also lead to mental health issues. Either substance abuse or mental illness can develop first. Effectively, psychological distress from work could lead to a mental health disorder, such as depression, which could then lead to substance abuse. Likewise, psychological distress from work could lead to substance abuse, which could then lead to a mental health disorder like depression.
Just remember – no job is worth being put into psychological distress. If the discrimination or sexism you face threatens your mental health, see if you can transfer departments or just work toward finding a new job. If you find that you can deal, but it’s just annoying, then don’t be afraid to fight the sexism and discrimination to make sure nothing stands in the way of you advancing your career.
Larry is a mental fitness expert researching how brain exercises can help reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s Disease. He created ReadyBrain.net to help give people the mental workout they need to have a healthy brain.