At the age of 16, i was the only woman employed in a family business who wasn’t related to the owner. After about 6 months and a promotion, i was finally being seen for my skills and i had proven myself (i was an assistant advertiser and advisor for website creation). There was one particular day in the office when the owner and another male co-worker came in later because they had been working form home. I was slightly bent over the desk writing things down whilst on the phone. The two of them stopped dean in their tracks and one whistled at me. The owner then said ‘thats the real reason I hired her’. I was mortified, knowing that the only reason I (who was 16!!!) was hired was because I looked ‘pretty’. Other things happened too that made me uncomfortable: 1. I had to clear all of the computers search histories and all cached data to speed them up, I found that the owner had been watching porn whilst i was in the office sat in the desk opposite him. 2. Another male coworker left so I cleared his desk only to find a thick stack of the suns page 3’s (around 4 months worth) under the desk pad. 3. the owner once had an affair, and showed me a photo of the woman, she was naked, and his current wife was in the adjacent room. He said he paid this woman for sex whilst she was at university and worked at me. The only good thing that came out of that job was the support i got from the other women in the office, whilst the owner did recognise me for my talents, i was more of a ‘pretty play thing’ in the office.
When I was 19-20 years old I started my first secretary job at a law firm in Sydney. I worked for a team of people including a man who was 40, married with two young children. He would repeatedly stare at me inappropriately, make excuses to look at my computer screen and hover so he could look down my shirt, and asked me to coffee when he found out I was single after a break up, despite never showing any interest in my life before that point. He was well known in my office as the office creep, and I knew of several girls my age where he had asked them to lunch despite having no work-related purpose. This experience made me more cautious around male bosses and distrusting, and even 8 years later has stayed with me. Today, I sent him the Harvey Weinsten NY Times expose and suggested he learn from this and that he knows exactly what I am talking about. Men who use their power of position and age to influence more vulnerable individuals (particularly girls/women) are the lowest of the low.
Me: Director of Marketing Him: Middle Manager via email Him: Did you get that email for my project sent out? Me: I have barely had your project request for 24 hours. So no. Him: Hey sassy pants be nice. (smiley face) I was just following up. We love you! I know your busy, I was just checking in. Didn’t mean to put pressure on.
My boss told me off for not smiling enough.
My boss is a decent family man with a wife and 2 daughters. He admires and supports their ambitions. Despite that, he still slips up e.g. 1) Following some proactive work from me which kept him/us from falling into a hole, he sent an email to me ‘You’re a darling. Am I allowed to say that?’. He’s not mother tongue English but clearly knew it wasn’t appropriate, otherwise why the second sentence? A simple ‘thank you’ would have worked fine. 2) Co-teaching colleagues, he says something along the lines of ‘and this is where you are my glamourous assistant’. My response ‘urrr, no’.
I’m currently working in a Wellbeing charity for a few months now and initially things were great in the organisation. However, after my female manager went on annual leave the CEO of the charity started to touch me inappropriately (such as stroking and rubbing my lower back, hands on my shoulders, squeezing) bullying and intimidation and invasion of my personal space as well. I later found out that his ‘touching’ was an ‘open’ secret in the organisation and he did it to many women. I felt disgusted that this CEO in his very late 50s, a married man was doing this to young women and vulnerable volunteers in this wellbeing charity. It was unwanted touching and I voiced my disgust and said ‘No’ and physically flinched from his unwanted gestures. I was quite shocked and did not report it initially as I thought it would stop once my manager was back. It did not unfortunately. I’ve had to take out a grievance as a last resort and although it is stressful and has caused me much stress and anxiety I strongly feel it was and is the right thing to do. Do not let anyone in a position of power do this to you, it’s unacceptable and illegal (please research Laws in your country and seek advice from employment help lines, I have found ACAS in the UK very supportive). I do not know the outcome of this grievance as the Board of Trustees Chair has yet to make a decision, I suspect much like the Jimmy Savile incidents in the UK they will be keen to sweep it under the rug. However, whatever happens I know I took a stand and said ‘NO’ and I hope and trust other people will also begin to say ‘NO’ to sexual harassment in the workplace.
My boss, old enough to be my father tried it on with me- He’d comment in front of my male-strong team on my ‘weight loss’ and ‘how it made me beautiful and attractive’, he even said that I ‘had a good bum’. But he was old enough to be my dad, and I wasn’t interested. So his harassment turned nasty and personal- he obliterated my character within my young career and lost me a new position that was going to lead to a doctorate, all because he lied about ‘my character’. When I reported it to HR, they moved me from my team and put me in a lower paid position working unsociable hours- my former ‘team mates’ didn’t bother to stand up for me. After a Psychological referral, a suicide attempt and loss of over 5 stone due to lack of eating I attempted to take legal action- to no avail. Now i’m working a job paying minimum wage and have to start from scratch regarding my career. Turns out that a First Class Honours degree from one of the best unis is nothing in comparison to a sexism and vile male boss. He kept his job, sanity and dignity whilst he stripped me of mine for good fun.
I remember being objectified as a woman as long as the boys noticed I didn’t just add ‘pointless’ tidbits to classes but I also had breasts. I remember in primary school the confusion when I argued with boys, even if I didn’t get it. I remember hitting puberty at school and being openly groped by a boy in my year at 14+ everyday at lunch with both hands and as a reflex laughing it off and feeling as if it was a compliment. I remember being harassed throughout chemistry about whether I ‘shaved’ or not. I wish now I had learned to make a fuss, not to just be complacent. I always believed myself to be a strong woman as I was always raised but as long as I just didn’t stand out too much. When I got my first boyfriend at 17 I remember being picked apart ’til I I felt there was nothing left, being called ‘unattractive’ in the shower and asked to lose weight. When I once plucked up the courage to tell him I thought he should get more muscle-y his response was simply ‘no’. I also remember the two times he raped me and how he apologised but did it again. I remember how it took over a year to come to the conclusion it was rape, because we were in a relationship and I guess these things just happened. I remember at 20 when my boss continually harassed me by text and after many rejections told me I ‘deserved to be in (his) pants’. I also remember how he stood in the way of another guy I liked, how he wouldn’t come near me because even though he appeared to be disgusted by his behaviour explained to me quite plainly it was kinda like a guy code. And I still don’t know by which of these two men I was offended more by. But I can say this. As a 21 year old woman I am loud, I speak out, I tell men and woman who are sexist exactly why their behaviour is wrong, I am sarcastic and I am confident. Because of projects like this I know I am not alone, that I do not deserve this and this behaviour is not normal. I now openly tell people my boss is a sexist prat that doesn’t have two brain cells to rub together and have managed discuss with friends the verbal abuse I suffered under my ex boyfriend and utter to even a few the categorical rape I have suffered. Because no this is not normal and no this is not okay.
So I’ve been working in this little café in France for a couple of months now. I’m the only waitress (it’s really little) so every day it’s just me and my boss. I’m 20 years old and my boss is about 50, additionally he’s told me has two daughters, so in my eyes his behaviours is even more inappropriate. He has a bit of a temper on him and switches between shouting at me for stupid little stuff, to being overly nice to me. Unfortunately what he regards as being ‘nice’ is him telling me I look beautiful repeatedly. Nice enough the first time, but obviously it makes me uncomfortable. Additionally he repeatedly refers to me as ‘baby’ and tells me I look ‘sexy’ even though I’ve told him that this isn’t appropriate. One time I wore white jeans and my boss would not stop talking about how my ass looked in them so I don’t dare wear them again. It gets super hot at work but I feel like I have to dress soo covered up to avoid my boss making comments. Even when I wear chiffon culottes my boss makes loads of excuses to touch them to ‘see what the material is like’. He’ll also pretend I have crumbs or chalk on my legs or ass so he can try and wipe it off. He also always asks me if I have a boyfriend, and when I say no, he says he’s surprised because I’m so ‘exigeant’ (oh btw he doesn’t speak a word of english, we’re in France here) and recently he’s started asking if I’m gay and have a girlfriend. Then yesterday a guy came in to fix the fan downstairs, I greeted him when he arrived, and he looked right through me as if I didn’t even exist and said to my boss ‘Where do you hide these beautiful girls and what do you do with them!’ I was so embarrassed and outraged. I’ve been trying to quit since May but my boss said that I’m obliged to stay all summer as thats what I said I would work however after this I’m 100% leaving at the end of the month.
Me: Oh no I don’t want to have children My Boss: Why? I didn’t think you where like that, you are just saying it because you don’t know Me: No, I’m saying it because it has never been on my plans My Boss: So what are you a nun?