Subtle discrimination also needs to be addressed | Guest column

  • Tuesday, December 12, 2017 10:41am
  • Opinion

Many people are speaking out about inappropriate physical contact and remarks in the workplace. They are to be commended for their courage. It is also time to speak about more subtle forms of discrimination faced in the workplace too.

Here are several examples of more “subtle or not so subtle” situations.

1. A woman shares an idea and then a few minutes later a man in the room has the same or a very similar idea and his is brilliant.

2. Another example is in introductions. For instance, this is Mr. Jones, our regional manager, area 1 and this is Amy. Mr. Jones has his title presented but there is no mention that Amy is Amy Smith and is regional manager of area 2.

3. Mr. Thompson says off the top of his head that he thinks we should buy product A. Ms. Anderson says she thinks we should buy product B and presents current data to back up her idea.

But the decision is inexplicably to buy A and study B. In many cases, with time permitting, both products should be studied.

4. At Super Bowl time there was a group conversation about the game. All of the people in the room had seen the game. But each time a woman said anything about a play, it was ignored.

This exclusion or not being invited to a golf game or other activity reduces opportunities for networking.

Sometimes people know when they have been out of line and other times people say they did not realize how it was being perceived. For example, I went to a meeting one time appropriately dressed in a business suit for the meeting. But the man I was negotiating with looked at my legs the entire meeting.

The meeting needed to be completed the next day. So that day, I wore a long skirt to the ground. When I walked in, he laughed and said ‘so you noticed that I was looking at your legs yesterday.’

Yes, I noticed and decided that we would get more done if that was not happening in the future. He knew, but had gotten away with this behavior for so long that he felt comfortable to do so.

Regardless if a person knows or says they did not know, it is important to say clearly that is not appropriate and or makes me uncomfortable. Usually there is an apology or the person says they did not realize how that was being perceived. Either way, that clarity should stop that behavior.

When I tell my granddaughters stories of discrimination and experiences years ago, they are aghast. They ask, “How could that happen?” I remind them many women in traditionally male occupations have paved the way for them. Many of the past treatments today are prohibited by law but others are more subtle and continue. It is time for addressing both types of inappropriate treatment and to have the words and courage to address it as it happens.

As I have talked over these issues and examples with other women, they have their “subtle” stories and I think it is part of why there are not as many women in upper management. Their ideas and qualifications have been downplayed or dismissed or they have been excluded from networking opportunities. Speaking up on the “subtle” forms of discrimination helps to make a healthier workplace for us all and appreciate each person’s contributions and talents.

More in Opinion

Growth, knowledge, learning at your library | Book Nook

Spring is the time of year when many of us focus on… Continue reading

It’s time to make Western Washington coal-free | Guest Column

For Washington to be a true climate leader, PSE needs to get out of the coal business.

Reporter Raechel Dawson says farewell to journalism career

Eastside journalist moves on after six years in field.

Photo by Michael O’Leary/Everett Herald
                                Photo by Michael O’Leary/Everett Herald
Eyman says he will spend $500K of his own money on initiative

The conservative activist’s self-financing claim points to a lack of deep-pocketed donors.

Please hold your applause till the end | Publisher’s Note

The Snoqualmie Valley Record will be moving back to a paid newspaper effective July 1.

Bring some green into your spring cleaning

Sure, there’s been rain, snow and hail lately, but believe it or… Continue reading

King County Libraries are among the busiest in the nation | Guest Column

Every spring, King County Library System presents its annual report to the… Continue reading

Unfinished stories, many thanks and new responsibilities | Farewell Column

Good-bye everybody. This is my last column for the Valley Record. It’s… Continue reading

‘Partisan’ letter highlights the division in the U.S. | Letter

I thank David Stevens for his letter attacking Chris Petzold because it… Continue reading

In defense of Petzold and critical thinking | Letter

I was born in 1947, and yes, my generation has failed the… Continue reading

Global warming is the greatest moral crisis of our time | Letter

What do “freedom” and “patriotism” really mean? In an effort to convince… Continue reading