From friendly banter with a not so subtle hint of discrimination at the cooler to being ignored during board room discussions, sexism at workplace is rampant and sadly, not as covert as we wished it would be. And if you thought that this discrimination was a hallmark of misogamists with limited insight, you should read the The Associated Press’s tweet referring renowned human rights lawyer Amal Clooney as the Hollywood actor George Clooney’s wife. The news agency received flak over its uncalled and offensive tweet from all quarters but common women and even men continue to face discrimination at workplace on a daily basis.
Though in-the-face sexism has been replaced with a slightly subtle form, thanks to the fear of slightly stringent legislations – asking about marital status and childcare plans is not uncommon. Surabhi Suman recalls being asked this several times when her boss wanted to send her on an off-shore project. “He knows I have been married for over three years now and fears that I will leave the job if I get pregnant. But since I am resourceful, he gives me responsibility but drops hints that if I want to continue I must not think about having a baby,” says the 28-year-old. If your are dressed up, have a coloured pout, flaunt a pair of heels, chances are that you will be labelled – show off or promiscuous.
“It is not just men even female colleagues brand their co-workers who come to work well dressed. I had to dress down at my last workplace due to the uncalled for attention. Some colleagues would even crack jokes with sexual overtones,” recalls G Aparna. Although after escalating the matter to her boss things got better, she had to switch job later as she was nearly ostracised.
While men appreciate hard working women at homes, at workplace such women are snubbed and even called names. “I lead a team of 30 people and only two team mates are females. While most colleagues are good, a few have problem taking commands from a female manager. Over the years I have understood how to tackle them, but initially it used to be a nightmare,” says Sameera Jawed adding, staying calm has worked for her. Besides, a lot of women will vouch that getting aggressive during discussions has only earned them questions like, “Is it that time of the month?”
If you thought women are the only ones who are discriminated against, you need to check your facts. “In my department female colleagues get two days off and are exempted from night shifts. Even cabs drop them at their doorstep. But for us, there is no such privilege. This is a sort of discrimination too but we cant complain for the fear of being called sissy,” says Sudheer.
Echoing him is Umang Gandhi who was recently denied paternity leave. “Instead of a week-long leave that I applied for, I got only two days off. My manager said my wife had borne the baby and not me. It was very insensitive and unreasonable but I couldn’t do much. I don’t want him to spoil my appraisal ratings,” rues the newly-turned father.