Tag Archives: Workplace

Lisa Harbisher

In my most recent job I have encountered sexism more so than any other, I work in the beer industry. However two incidents stand out from male colleagues who had issues with me because I was their boss. One was older one was younger. The older one admitted that he had an issue with me as the boss because I was a woman. The younger proved to be unsuitable for his role at the company and as his manager I told him he would have to improve to keep his job, this he didn’t do and he was dismissed. The next week he phoned the company owner to talk about how I had bullied him and that I was the main problem in the company. Even after the company owner, a man, told him it was not just me who thought he was not suitable for the role but him as well, he still sent an abusive email against me specifically, with everything he thought I had said and done wrong. Nothing was his fault and I was the only one who had a problem with his working standards. During his time at the workplace he didn’t like it when I offered advice or encouraged him telling him I wanted him to succeed. He appeared to think he didn’t have to listen to me and believed I was wrong and he was right. It saddens me to think this young guy will go through life like this, because it will make it very difficult for him. I don’t know whether I got his attitude across clearly but there was an under current of disrespect from the start that I didn’t see him show to other male managers. I won’t let it get me down because it’s pretty pathetic that he felt this way and shows a lack of intelligence and character, I just feel sorry for him.


I am an undergraduate student who recently got accepted into medical school, and I could not be more excited. Over the years, I have shadowed many physicians in preparation for my future career. Many of the male doctors assume I want to go into women-dominated fields such as OB/GYN or pediatrics without bothering to ask me if my interests lie elsewhere. Many male physicians have asked me how I plan to manage a family on top of my career and want to know if I’ve considered that I would be missing prime years of my life for childbearing during medical school. I found these comments and questions extremely personal and insulting and felt very discouraged by them. I highly doubt male students get these questions. I even had one doctor offer to let me shadow him only to find out later that he used shadowing as means to get to know me because he thought I was attractive. He wanted to have inappropriate relations with me and promised if I “stuck” with him he could help me get into medical school. It opened my eyes to how women are viewed in the medical field and motivated me to work harder than ever to prove to myself and other physicians that I am worthy of saving lives and helping others regardless of gender. As a physician, I will treat all people with respect and hope to encourage more women to enter the medical field.


I have eorked in a msle fominated industry for over 20 years. In general the men behave well, but they are confysed about hiw to approach ne. All swearing stops immediatrly they notice me, so they obviously feel tgat different stsndards apply. Get to doors can be a pain becausd of the confusion as to whether thry shoukd open it – I lije to be independent. A few less positive examples – my MD used to put one finger down my arm quite often, but I still believe tbat he thought that it was a gesture of support, he never did anythjng else. I am sure that where are work has a triple glazed glass ceiling, as no woman has succeeded in staying in the management team. Women all have admin roles with the exception of a new engineer. I see that men do not want to really accept women as scientists in my working environment, we are accepted as organising the xmas do, or doing works open days and looking after the photocopier. One production manager never seens to actually want to talk about work and only seems to come alive when sex related subjects come up. Is this “men are from mars and women are ftom venus”? My boss similar lives double entendres and I can see one if my younger male colleagues often feelin awkward when this type if conversation has occurred. I made a chojce in the late 1980s to follow the ideal that women should be scientists and enter heavy industry, but I honestly think that the nen were not and still are not prepared for hiw to deal with women. My work based social life is restricted because the men worry about being accused of having an affair. So I think clearing guidelines are needed to help both sexes treat each other better.


I used to think that men wanting to touch me was because maybe I was polite and kind and they mistook me. If you keep a stern face and angry face they won’t hurt you. That seemed to work for the longest time. But recently I was diagnosed with thyroid condition and the medication was making me emotionally soft. I used to think well I am only going to live in the world for a limited time why not be kind anyway even if it hurts. My boss knows my family enjoys port wine and good quality wine occasionally. He mentioned about a company picnic. Keep in mind that I see this boss as my father about my father’s age. I have so much respect for him or atleast I did till the following happened. I said sure I would love to go pick up some port bottles for my parents. We had lunch and had a glass of wine. After his second glass he wanted to see my hand. I asked why and he said “I can palm read” . I laughed it off just because this was my boss. Hesitantly I said okie but I don’t believe in it. He said well let me see after he touched my palm and said a thing or two here and there about some future and something about my parents. I tried to take my hand back. Growing up I knew to trust my intuition when a touch is not appropriate. Right then he took my hand said I want to feel human touch and held onto my palm. I was so afraid to say anything and in a minute I said I have to go the restroom. He told me this was different from work and that is not work atmosphere and that we are two different people here at the vineyard. Once again I was in a shock but said nothing because we had carpooled from work. I changed the subject and said “oh isn’t it time to get back. Let me get some water. If this wasn’t an isolated place I would have driven off or confronted that I am not comfortable with such things. The reason I never bought it up was because he has an upper hand in making sure my work visa gets approved. I didn’t want to destroy my career if he messed it up. If my parents ever find this out, I know they will be overprotective and say forget working as an engineer in a male dominated world. Why are these things not obvious to men?


When I had my daughter and I returned to work I had an awful experience if being accused of being an unfit mother 2 days in a row infront of middle managers. Not one manager stood up for me either time. Fortunately my boss intervened. This opinion was from a 60+ year old man in the early 1990s. He later sppologised when he saw me with her 2 yesrs later. I think that this arose ftom my approach being opposite to what he had done and to accept mine he had to challenge whether he had had the right attitude to his wife, by making her stay at home. Effectively I had challenged his values.


In the middle of a casual conversation with a fellow professional woman whom I had just met… “And what did you do before you became a mother?” In shock, the best I could manage was “I still do. I am on maternity leave and I will be going back to work.” That was yesterday and I am still incandescent with rage.


A colleague of mine just complained loudly and for a long time that a student wrote him an email addressed to “Dear Miss”, almost as though the women working in this office don’t receive dozens of emails every single day beginning “Dear Sirs”.


I’ve noticed a trend in some security awareness training and other presentations, where examples of ‘how not to do it’ have a bias in favour of using female users as the people making mistakes or doing the wrong thing. I thought it was my imagination at first until I saw it happen several times. Thanks, ES, btw, for highlighting ‘everyday’ sexual harrassment years before others have begun to catch up.

His career matters more

Talking to husband about starting a family – I’ve always said I want to go back to work, I love my job and have worked hard for my career. So I wanted to talk about what types of childcare we would look at. Husband says there is no point in having a child if “we” aren’t going to look after it, and wouldn’t I prefer to stay at home. We do the same job but I am more senior and get paid more… so I suggest a third option he could take a career break instead – apparently I “don’t appreciate the magnitude” of what I’m asking!


I have been going to work the past couple of days despite being quite sick with a fever. Since we are in the middle of an important project, and it Iwas a ”all-hands on deck” situation, I decided to work regardless. After a meeting with a senior figure (male) from the company, and as all of the attendees left the meeting room, I happened to mention that I wasn’t feeling too well. The senior man went on to tell me ”at this point in history, we do not need more women martyrs such as yourself. You are all the same.” Oh how I wish someone from HR had overheard his comment (which is one of the many he constantly shares).