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Law Offices of Dan A. Atkerson

Sexist Comments You Need to Stop Saying at Work

By Dan Atkerson on January 11, 2016

Photo of a man and a woman at workGreat progress has been made towards rooting out and eliminating sex discrimination over the past decades, but sexism is still alive and well in the workplace today. There are a number of comments and phrases that many workers use every day without ever realizing how sexist they are.

Sexist comments, while not always intentional or outright violations of employment law, could still impact our every thought. Recognizing and eliminating everyday sexist phrases could do us all a lot of good.

Sexism in the Workplace

  • The Pretty One – Even if it sounds complimentary on the surface, comments like this shifts focus from a person’s professional qualifications or ability to a person’s looks, which can be demeaning.
  • Being Bossy – When a man is assertive, it’s expected and nobody thinks to warn him that “other people will think you’re bossy.” However, women are called “bossy” and often warned that they won’t be liked as much if they don’t “soften” their approach.
  • Sweetie Pie – Nicknames for women in the workplace such as ‘sweetheart’, ‘sugar’ or ‘honey’ should be left in the past, or in an episode of Mad Men.
  • Take Notes – Asking a female administrative assistant to take notes at a meeting is okay. Asking any woman in the room to take notes is casually sexist. This goes for getting coffee, planning office parties, ordering lunch, etc. as well.
  • You’ll Probably Quit After the Baby Is Born – Nobody ever says this sort of thing to expectant fathers, but pregnant mothers and all women generally are lumped together into one big “life revolves around babies” ball, which could be construed as pregnancy discrimination. Many women do in fact quit after giving birth to focus on raising their children, but many women also come back to work.
  • Paternity Leave? – Similar to the above point, men are rarely expected to take time off after their child is born. Fathers have just as much desire to be with their newborn child as mothers. Just as women are always expected to take time off or quit, men are expected to be at work on Monday.
  • Office Mom – This term of endearment usually given to the woman at work that carries the pain reliever, remembers the birthdays, and basically mother hens us all, is sexist as well. Men that do the same thing are generally referred to as “the guy with the Advil,” or Henry (Henry never forgets a birthday).
Man Things for Men– Companies often host excursions outside of work, but very often they are predominately geared towards men, and even go so far as to be only open to men. Women should be equally included in the event whether its golfing, happy hour, high stakes poker, or higher stakes Build-a-Bear crafting.

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