Discrimination

V Brown

The headteacher of my school wanted me to complete work ‘before I went on holiday’. He was referring to my maternity leave. Unsurprisingly, I wasn’t allowed to return to my post, despite nobody even checking the timetable to see if flexible working hours were possible. I’m now into my second year of pursuing my sex discrimination claim and am unable to say anything to anyone. The school gave the message to staff that I’d chosen not to return to work. I expect to lose on some sort of technicality but would rather risk the thousands of pounds this is costing me than let a school continue to treat another woman this way.

Helen

I was conducting exactly the same role as my male colleague, I was called an Assistant Civil Engineer and he was called a Civil Engineer. I assisted nobody and worked in the absence of a Team Leader and Head of Department for over 6 months. When a position for Civil Engineer came up, the Engineering Manager came to me and suggested if I knew anyone who might be interested, I should encourage them to apply. I considered this and decided to apply myself. Between the application and the interviews, I had my annual appraisal with the same Engineering Manager, who praised all my work, rated me as “exceeds expectations” and said how pleased he was that I had applied for the position of Civil Engineer. He also stated “your interview day will be a very good day”. I went to the interview just a week or two later and it appeared to go well. Almost a month after the interview I got called into his office and told I had been unsuccessful in my application. I was a little confused and asked if there was a better candidate, they said no, they had not filled the position and were readvertising. I asked why I hadn’t been successful and was told “you are not a chartered engineer”, I queried this at the time as this had not been a requirement in the job advert and none of my male colleagues were chartered in the Civil Engineer role. The Engineering Manager changed his response and said, “oh I meant you haven’t got good enough qualifications”. Again, I was confused and pointed out that couldn’t possibly be the reason because again, I had a 1st Class Masters Degree and all my male colleagues merely had Bachelors Degrees. The Engineering Manager then responded by saying “what I actually meant was you don’t have enough experience”. At this point I was really questioning the whole exchange and left his office. I continued to question this rationale with colleagues (including those male Civik Engineers) and none could understand this as I had collectively a decade of experience and was undertaking the same number and value and complexity of projects that they were and was mentoring an Apprentice through her qualification. I then got invited by HR to a meeting “to discuss your job description”. I prepared for the meeting by printing copies of the job descriptions for Assistant Civil Engineer, Civik Engineer and Senior Civil Engineer. I collated evidence of my work for each of the points of the Civil Engineer job description and tried to map out a progression path through the positions. At this point it became apparent that the job description for the Assistant Civil Engineer was far more onerous than that of the Civil Engineer and that the only difference between the Civil Engineer and Senior Civil Engineer was being Chartered. I took all this to the meeting and presented my case to the lady from HR. She listened and then said “I’m afraid I can’t discuss your job description because I didn’t write it”. Instantly I was very confused as she had invited me to the meeting with the heading “to discuss your job description”, so I said as much. She responded by saying “I wanted to discuss another matter, you smell excessively of body odour.” At this point I was flabbergasted. I have never had such a complaint raised in my life before, no mention of this was raised in my annual appraisal mere weeks before and nobody had said a word to me. She continued, saying “Don’t you have anything to say? The least you could do is thank me for telling you in private” at this point I asked to leave and returned back to my office in tears. I felt embarrassed and confused and couldn’t carry on with the day. I thought about it all weekend and booked a doctors appointment immediately to get tested to see if there was an issue I was unaware of. All results came back negative and the Doctor suggested anti-depressants instead. I decided to speak to the Engineering Manager as I felt if it were this big an issue it ought to have been raised in my annual appraisal. He responded by telling me he had noticed it and that my team had complained as well. My faith in my team plummeted and I couldn’t look anyone in the eye. Eventually they began asking what was wrong and I trusted one enough to explain. He said he hadn’t said anything of the sort and he was certain nobody else had either. I decided at this point I had no choice but to leave my employment. My trust in both my management, my team and my HR department had been obliterated and it was obvious I was not going to be treated fairly by the organisation. I raised a formal grievance with my notice and the organisation responded by writing a four page letter saying they had done absolutely nothing wrong and they dismissed my grievance entirely.

Anonymous

I was in Primary School around 9 years old playing football with some boys in my year. Then one of the boys kicked the ball badly and they all started saying “Even girls can do that better than you”. It made my friends and I feel less confident in ourselves and from then on I never took sport seriously.

Deanna Alvarado

I like to believe I am a very vibrant human being. I believe in the word and action ‘excelsior’, or taking all the negativity and turning it into fuel to find the positivity; to find a silver lining. However, it is an extremely tedious task when there is a population of boys- (I refuse to call them men) who feel for some unknown reason, that they are entitled to my space. That they have this privilege to not only stare at woman like they are meat and nothing more, but to open their degrading and disrespectful mouths and yell out derogatory statements. A vibrant person should have the right to walk 3 classrooms down and heat up her lunch and feel safe in practicing that right. But instead I sit in a classroom with little to no people eating cold spaghetti because I feel powerless and small when I do it. When I walk to the microwave I get told to rest my backside against the wall so the people behind me will stop staring at my ass. And when I turn to look, see an entire group of boys staring at me like an object. Or today, April 18, 2017, I walked out of my classroom and a boy gestured at me and nonchalantly told his friend “that bitch has a fat ass.” I responded with “my name is Deanna not bitch” but even so it was beyond infuriating and made me want to punch him in the face because I know the pain of my fist would not be nearly as painful as what he said was. It was an unparalleled frustration. I left the room shaking in fury and saw my friend David who I have even more respect for because of the amount of respect he has for woman. I told David what I thought and felt about him in that moment, “David, you respect woman so much and I know it’s a really prevalent quality in your personality and I just want you to know I respect and appreciate that.” I praised him for it. Then it hit me, I praised a man for doing something all men should do everyday, all day. Respect woman. Not make the vibrancy dissipate because they were never taught to speak. Not make them feel powerless. Not make them think it’s their fault for wearing leans too tight, or a tank top in 80 degree weather. Not make them run to their next class with a red hot face full of tears. Not allow her to walk to and from class or heat up her lunch without being sexually harassed. When I spoke about this hours later I was told by David that maybe I “should have a guy heat up my food instead next time.” I was told by my mom to “heat up my lunch before leaving for school in the morning because it’ll be cold but not as cold and you won’t have to deal with all that.”

Anon

Why are unpaid full time carers almost invariably female? I care for 2 disabled people. I am either caring or ‘on call’ for 168 hours a week (yes that’s right, 168 hours a week!) I have never had a holiday from this in nearly 20 years and I’m expected to live on £62.50 a week: Carers allowance. That works out at an hourly rate of 37p. (By contrast the national minimum wage is currently £7.50 per hour). I don’t know anyone, at all, who works as long or as hard as me. (Over the yers I have saved the British governmant and British taxpayer hundreds of thousnds of ££ in care fees and accommodarion). Yet, over the years this has been dismissed by numerous men as ‘not work’. Just today I was dismissed as a “lazy woman, expecting a husband to keep you” (I’m single by the way: as an unpaid carer I don’t have the time or energy to start orf maintain a relationship with anyone).

TheCurryMan

I was harassed by other ladies on the train carriage until I gave up my seat to another woman who looked the same age or younger than me and had no visible disabilities. I eventually gave up the seat to which someone shouted “sexist fool thinkin he better than a lady”. All I did was sit down and take a seat and in this case, was i not discriminated against because of the fact that I was male?

Jinx

I was once told I could not work a night job as a hotel desk clerk because I was female and would be in danger. My bf at the time was told he would be more likely to get it because he’s male.

Lois

I went to see a university counsellor once, female, after a tough summer with traumatic family themes. I was worried about the new term back and felt fragile socially that’s why I sought support so that my work didn’t suffer. I was a new mum of a pre-school child, single because of extreme domestic abuse and resuming my degree studies was part of rebuilding my independent life, after being isolated and belittled. I told her about recent family dynamics and the only thing she said in response was my name and then with a sneer “Is it really worth it?” somewhat perplexingly. I’ve met some very harmful counsellors in my time and this one excelled herself in being rubbish at her job. I wasn’t wanting sympathy but the woman seemed not to have the intelligence to discuss matters objectively nor help me gain perspective at the time. She weighed in against my damaged confidence and seemed to be satisfied in her feeling of superiority over me. She made me feel worthless. I came across this at MIND once as well before I was a mum. Throughout the rest of my course I felt there were no pastoral services I could access because of her. I achieved my degree and I love my work now. Family relationships are good. My son is really bright doing well at school.