5 Ways to Navigate Misogyny at Work
Studies have shown that at least one-third of women have to deal with misogyny in the workplace. Many others might have to deal with it on a daily basis without realizing the full extent of what they’re experiencing. Misogyny manifests itself in a variety of ways.
Maybe some of your male co-workers make insults and try to play them off as jokes. Maybe they devalue your voice. Or, there might be role stereotyping, forcing you to fall into specific expectations just because of your gender. Even in the 21st century, misogyny in the workplace is still alive and well. Of course, that doesn’t make it right.
So, what can you do to navigate those waters? Let’s take a look at five things that can help.
1. Share Who You Are
Far too often, women quiet down when they feel like they’re in a sexist environment. You might fall into the role set for you because you’re afraid of making waves, or you just think that’s how things have to be.
When you introduce yourself to co-workers, let them know who you really are. Use a confident voice. Talk about the work you’ve done in the past. Essentially, you’re telling people what to think about you rather than letting them make up their own narrative.
2. Be An Advocate
You have to choose to be an advocate for yourself and other women at your job. If you notice inequities or inappropriate actions, speak up about them. It’s not always easy, and it can be scary if no one else is in your corner. However, if no one speaks up, nothing will ever change.
3. Point Out Sexist Comments
If someone makes a misogynistic or sexist comment, correct them. You don’t have to do it in a harsh or unkind way. Some people might be ignorant of specific societal phrases that demean and devalue women. Ignorance is never an excuse, but it could be an opportunity to educate.
For example, if a coworker calls the women in the office “girls,” let them know it is infantilizing. Women have every right to be in any workplace they want. Using language that undermines women’s experience and maturity can create a subconscious belief that women aren’t as well-equipped as men.
4. Educate Yourself
Misogyny is not the fault of women, nor their responsibility to correct it. However, in the absence of aggressors educating themselves, it can be prudent to do the education for them.
You can practice responses to misogynistic comments. Learn about micro-aggressions that often go unnoticed. Join support groups, even if they’re just online. By learning as much as possible about what misogyny looks like and what you can do about it, you’ll be more empowered to step up and be an advocate for yourself and others. You’ll have the right tools in your arsenal to combat misogyny and, hopefully, create a more equitable work environment for yourself and others.
5. Elevate Your Co-Workers
Speaking of advocating for others, don’t be afraid to elevate the other women in your workplace environment. That might look different for everyone. Maybe it’s asking if they’re okay after you overhear a sexist comment. Perhaps it’s speaking up when something inappropriate is said about them. Bring them up again if you’re in a meeting together and their ideas are overlooked. When you work together, you’re more likely to break down the misogynistic environment at work.
Unfortunately, some workplaces will always have a harder time changing their ways than others. Don’t let your mental well-being suffer if you’re in an environment that doesn’t feel safe or respectful. Meeting with a therapist can help you vent your frustrations and find proactive ways to address the misogyny in your workplace. Give me a call today to set up your first appointment.