The world has gotten a little bender when it comes to gender equality in the workplace but it is far, far from perfect. As you'll read in these stories, it's absurd the biases that woman still face on the job, especially when they are the boss. Sure, the facts show that women make less, but what is equally disturbing is how little respect women are often faced with at work. Office jobs, factory jobs, retail, whatever the job is, women continue to deal serious misogyny that men should be ashamed of. Good luck not getting worked up by this infuriating stories! Content has been edited for clarity.
Working His Way Up The Ladder Around The Women Wasn’t A Good Plan
“I once had a new hire who wouldn’t take directions from a woman. By a complete fluke the interview panel was all men so it hadn’t come up.
Our lab was 50/50 male/female and he was supposed to be basically everyone’s assistant as needed. The first day he wasn’t wearing goggles so I reminded him nicely to put on a pair, and he didn’t respond in any way. My male co-worker then repeated what I had said and he put goggles on. This basically repeated for three days until I brought it up with my manager. She tried to bring it up with him but he wouldn’t talk to her, which went about as well as you would expect. HR was also a woman, so the CEO came in and fired him.”
“I had someone I worked with well, we joked around a lot, seemed we were decent ‘work friends.’ Not close but we never had a rift or problem.
When I was promoted to manage the group, including him, he simply decided he wasn’t going to recognize my presence. As in, he wouldn’t look at me, wouldn’t talk to me, refused to respond to emails, acted like I was literally not there. He apparently decided he didn’t have to do what I told him if he couldn’t see me. It was bizarre.
I think in a way he felt like no one should be his boss. We worked evenings and typically didn’t have anyone who outranked us in the building after 5pm or so.
It meant there was now a layer of accountability always there. I had requirements. I didn’t just let him or anyone else on the team carry on just showing up and getting paid.
If I thought he couldn’t do the additional tasks I asked for, I could understand. But he was a good performer. I was adding structure and accountability but I didn’t think he couldn’t do it. But some people don’t do well with structure and deadlines. Some people can’t bring themselves to report on the weeks activities in a couple of sentences.
I requested a meeting with HR about it. They set it up with him (since he didn’t acknowledge my existence). He continued to not look at me or speak to me, only to the HR person. They laid out a plan for him to follow, which involved communication of some kind with me. He did not follow it.
We were getting ready to fire him when another opportunity came up for him (voluntary separation) and he left.”
Guess What? I Am The Manager!
“I used to be a supervisor for a small department. Sometimes I covered the phones for the receptionist when she took lunch. People treated me very badly when I was covering that job.
One time a guy called and angrily asked to speak to a supervisor. I said, ‘I’m the supervisor.’
He said ‘NO, YOU’RE NOT! What is your title?’ in a nasty tone of voice. I told him I was the supervisor of (the department). I was shocked that he called me a liar right to my face, so to speak.”
He Was Angry For Months
“I started an accounting based job and worked along side this person who had been there for quite some time. Occasionally he would pass off some of his work and phrase it as a favor to me so that I could learn the job faster. Sure. But I took it and did it anyway since there was at least a grain of truth in that.
After a few months, I had pretty much exceeded easily everything I was given (including his work) and was granted a promotion which put me into a different section of the business with higher numbers and more important time constraints. Now I wasn’t necessarily his boss at all, nor was I ever really an underling to him, But he clearly thought of me as one. While I’m in the middle of getting into the flow of my new responsibilities, he comes over and drops work – literally dropping it on my desk.
I was actually pretty stunned. That’s a passive aggressive cartoon move! I said a more polite variation of ‘what the heck do you think you’re doin’?’ He goes on to tell me how he was hoping I would help him with the work since he was SO busy (he had half the work I now had), and I had no problem doing it before. I said that that was when I didn’t have the workload I now do, and now that that’s changed, he would have to actually start doing his own work.
It was virtually a 4-month kindergarten temper-tantrum from then on. Talking smack about me regarding how I’m now a stuck up chick who thinks I’m more important now, and that somehow I had wrongfully pushed more work onto him…WHEN IT WAS HIS OWN JOB ALL ALONG!
Anyway, in the end he managed to get himself fired. It turns out he just couldn’t do the work, and when he actually had to face his job alone, he made so many mistakes they just canned him.”
The Guy Made A Bad Assumption!
“I was running late into a meeting where I (youngest female) was the one to sign off on an assignment of about $100k. The contractor welcomed me by saying: ‘We would like some coffee’ and immediately continued talking about the contract to my older, male subordinates.
He didn’t win the contract.”
It’s Hard Not To Be Smug
“I’m a manager at a store that sells tile and all the supplies necessary to install it. Even if I wasn’t a manager, I’m easily the most experienced salesperson there in terms of practical and technical knowledge.
I often get male customers, both retail and pros, who ask to speak to a man because they don’t think I know what I’m talking about. When that happens I just smile, say okay, and go grab whichever of the newest, greenest, most inexperienced guys is available and turn them loose on that customer. Invariably within 10-15 minutes the salesperson is calling me back over to help him answer the question the customer refused to let me help him with. It’s very hard to not stand there looking smug during the conversation.
I learned this trick from my grandma, who was general manager of a Sears hardware store in the 50s and 60s. The stories she tells about that job are hilarious.”
She Was The Expert, He Wasn’t
“I used to work at an auto parts store. They actually hired me to be the go-to advice person and to help diagnose what was wrong with a customer’s car when they got their codes read. I have a degree in automotive technology and several ASE certifications. Inevitably, any time the customers had a question they’d want to talk to a man.
One of my favorites was the guy that waited in my line and when he got to me told me he had a question and needed to ‘talk to one of the guys.’ I told him I could help him but he insisted. At that point one of my male coworkers, a middle aged guy with no automotive know how much beyond replacing wiper blades, came up to the register to start checking out a customer and a few more people got in line. The customer went over there and waited in line.
When he finally made it to the head of the line he asked my coworker about a double flaring tool. My coworker didn’t know what it was and asked. Brake lines. It is for brake lines. So my coworker said, ‘Oh, I have no idea but I can get you someone that is ASE certified in brakes and can probably help you.’ The customer looked really pleased until he saw it was me coming over to help. I got the tool for the customer and gave him a complete tutorial on how to use it.
But it was like that all. the. time. Death by a thousand cuts of misogyny. I live in a small town in the rural south so the misogyny is strong here. The younger guys, as a general group, tended to be a little bit better about accepting help from me, but there was still an awful lot of younger guys that would refuse help from a woman.
And some of the worst misogyny I dealt with at that job was from the 20-something young guys that had no professional certifications, but were sure they knew everything better than me and treated me like dirt.
I’m so glad I’m out of the automotive industry all together!”
She’s Dealt With It All
“How about having a male freelancer from a man-centered culture acting like I was his secretary, and checking with the general manager (above me) directly every time I gave him instructions? It was immediately addressed, but he still hates being ‘ordered’ around by a woman.
Or having a guy in my team who is underperforming telling me in a meeting about something that he would improve and he appreciates my input, then in the meeting with the general manager, he tells him I was hard to work with and that I would never offer any help, that I was ‘too full of myself’ and ‘having pretty women as managers was bad company policy in his opinion.’ LMAO. He’s long gone.
Having a meeting with the CEO to discuss a promotion and raise and him bringing up that my boyfriend (who works in the same company) earns less than I do and if this wouldn’t cause problems ‘at home’ or would create office drama. Meeting ended with me getting my raise and promotion, and him saying ‘he would contemplate raising my boyfriend’s salary to at least maintain the same gap in our earnings.’ He said this as if he was doing me a favor. My boyfriend is brilliant in his job and he deserves every promotion and raise he’s applied for.
But the fact that I was negotiating my own position and salary, and my boyfriend basically got a raise just for being a man and being in relationship with me had me speechless.
The worst part is, the CEO is actually a very kind person most of the time, directs the company with very good values, it’s overall a great place to work. That’s why it’s so bizarre, how patriarchal attitude and male privilege is present even in the best of situations.”
He Was Looking But Couldn’t Find A Man
“I was a bank group manager of a market/several branches. An upset gentleman came in and was getting upset and loud with my team. Not intentionally, but it turned out that entire branch was staffed with women.
I don’t even remember what he was so upset about, but he demanded to speak to the manager as I was walking out of my office to assess the situation. I introduced myself as the group manger of the region and attempted to shake his hand, which he ignored.
He proceeded to tell me what the issue was, I calmly explained our options and promised to handle it for him and make it right immediately. He stuck his palm in my face and said he’d heard enough from me and demanded to speak to a MAN in charge. I told him I would be happy to get him in touch with my manager. He interrupted me by demanding that I do so immediately. To my pleasure, I informed him she was also a woman.
He didn’t like that. He looked around the branch and his eyes landed on one of the commercial bankers in the branch that day. He looked at me and pointed in the direction on the commercial banker and said ‘I demand to speak to HIM!’
I played along. I walked over to my coworkers office, briefly explained the situation, and brought him out to meet this lovely old man. He listened intently to the man’s complaints, who alluded that I wasn’t intelligent enough to fix the issue and made sure to point out how happy he was that there was a man here to help him.
I will forever be grateful for how my coworker responded. He smiled and politely told the man that he would need to work with me to resolve his issue. The look on this man’s face was priceless.
He reluctantly followed me into my office, and it took no time at all to resolve his issue. He didn’t thank me or apologize to me or my staff. We never saw him again. Not really sure what ever happened to him and I no longer work for that bank, so I’ll never know. But I will never forget him.”
Engineers Are Tough
“I actually am super lucky that I’ve had overwhelmingly positive reactions to my position of power. But we’re talking strangest here.
One time, when I went to talk to my boss to negotiate a raise to go with my promotion, he made sure to turn the whole thing into a review, congratulating me for my recent leadership and software development work, and suggesting that the only area for improvement be that I tend to get really stressed under pressure and to make sure to not worry too much and to keep my stress under control.
I wasn’t exactly sure where that was coming from, because for sure in our most recent project everybody was stressed and grumbling and sometimes even yelling, but I thought that relatively speaking I kept a pretty good lid on it. And for certain, I had one moment where I left the room crying because like 6 people were simultaneously asking me questions at the same time and I had two hours to deliver a fix that we’d been working on unsuccessfully for the previous 14 hours straight. But I definitely said ‘excuse me for a moment!’ took a walk around the parking lot, and returned in 10 minutes to deliver the fix. I thought it really wasn’t that bad and for the most part I’ve been cool as a cucumber. And my boss wasn’t even there, since I’ve been working at site, managing half of my team completely remotely, so I was wondering if someone told him, or if it was something else he was thinking of.
I discovered what it was when, just last week, the build server went down, and I said on our internal messaging system, ‘Hey guys, no big deal, but our build server seems to be down and I need to create a build fairly urgently. Is there somebody around who can take a look at it?’ 30 minutes later, no one had responded, and I sent another message: ‘Is anyone around who can take a look or is no one in the office yet?’
The project manager told me she’d investigate, then poked her head into the office of one of our developers to find that two of the developers huddled around the build server, and when she asked them what they were up to, they said, ‘Leave us alone! The build server is down, and if we don’t fix it soon, (my name) is going to MURDER US!’
My guess is that’s where that idea was coming from.”
He Kept Up The Harassment
“Long ago I worked in a small IT department for a company that primarily consisted of men. I had to supervise and train new IT hires on the system we used, which was usually not a problem. One guy gets hired and I am training him for a few days when he asks me why ‘I don’t just go home and work in the kitchen like a good wife?’
I’m stunned and tell him that I am here to train him, that’s all. He says nothing else to me that day but then complains to my boss that I’m not doing a good enough job training him and ‘one of the guys’ needs to do it. My boss (also a man) doesn’t know how to handle the request, so he tells me to find someone else to train this jerk. I did, but the comments didn’t stop with that. He consistently would tell me that I was wrong when I was not and that I could not know as much as a man did about a particular IT program. He regularly told new hires, behind my back, that I was not very bright and to ignore anything I tell them. I loved my job but hated going to work because of him.
I filed several complaints with HR. Harassment in the workplace was still a ‘newly discovered concept’ at this time so they did not handle it well. They moved my desk to another side of the building and then told me not to speak with him directly anymore. However they never actually spoke with HIM directly about the inappropriateness of his degrading comments. I was the only one who had to make changes to avoid conflict, because I was complaining about it.
I quit less than a year later due to this lack of competency. The company had been newly purchased by a much larger overseas corporation, so I filed a complaint with their office. I heard that HR has since mandated yearly harassment training for all employees.
Better late than never, I suppose.”
She Wasn’t An Intern!
“This happened recently when my manager, who is also female, but older with 20 years of experience, went on leave for two weeks and kindly offered me to look after the team (with extra pay!)
Firstly, I’m the youngest female ever to be permanently at the level I am in my department of 80 people, let alone a manager, even if it was only temporary. I only graduated college five years ago. Secondly, I’ve been in my area for a short time so haven’t really had time to deal with other people in my department and higher ups.
The first reaction was hysterical laughter. Another male colleague made a light-hearted joke about me having the temporary power to approve vacation for the much older colleagues, since it’s rare for my manager to have time off. All good and fun. However, when another female colleague overheard she kept laughing and was saying how it couldn’t be true that I would be manager for two weeks and she wanted to see a memo. She was saying things like ‘are you being serious?’ while laughing.
I’ve had other reactions where people would come looking for my manager or asking other people who could attend meetings while my manager was away and just completely ignoring me. When they were told that I was managing for two weeks, they would just stare in disbelief but then acted super friendly and nice.
Since then I’ve had much more pleasant conversations with other people, especially those in my own area who never really paid attention to me. I guess they thought I was an intern before.”
The Future Is Not So Bright
“I was just a supervisor, but I had three departments under my belt (two of which were pretty high volume.) I had been having a lot of trouble with accountability and was told to crackdown on my team.
I gave a young man (18-19, I think) two hours to do four tasks. Simple tasks. He had everything he needed. I went to lunch, came back after an hour and he had done one thing.
I asked him what took so long on the first task, he made an excuse, I explained he had the equipment necessary to rule that excuse moot. I told him to finish the second task and just go home (it was the end of his shift.)
He did not finish. In two hours he did one, single thing.
He went to my boss, and then to my boss’ boss, not my direct supervisor, and complained that I was rude, that I spoke down to him like a child, and that he would prefer to never work with me again.
Because I told him he had the proper equipment to do his job. He’s professed a desire to join the military. I can’t freaking wait for him to start basic.”
Positions Of Authority Can Be Brutal
“I was working as a compliance officer for a team of male engineers. Engineers are a different breed anyway, so part of it may have been that, but they definitely wouldn’t have reacted in the same way if I’d been male.
Although they didn’t report to me, my job was to review their work to make sure it was in compliance with government regulations for our industry. Most of that was really two things: (1) was their documentation thorough and correct, and (2) did their stuff actually do what they said it did.
The most common thing was enduring the mansplaining when I found a mistake. If I told them their mathematical equation in a document was incorrect, it got crazy. Dude, first you double-check your work, then tell me I’m wrong. Instead they would spend 30 minutes explaining the theory to me, I have the same education they did, plus I probably had a higher GPA, then discover they’ve made a mistake when they would show me the example – the same one I pointed out first!
Another thing I had to do was check that the equipment they used was (1) described accurately and (2) had all the associated paperwork proving that it had been calibrated and tested within the required time limit. For example, they couldn’t use Meter A to measure results unless Meter A had a valid calibration certification. Wow…you wouldn’t believe all the push back I got of the ‘don’t mess with my stuff’ variety. Dude, just file the paperwork, document your calibration testing, and we’re all good. Don’t make me hunt you down.
I had one engineer who was brilliant, but was a cowboy. His bosses let him do whatever he wanted. Because he really was that smart.
He spent about three weeks once giving me the runaround about documenting his work. His excuses ranged from, ‘that’s not important’ to ‘just skip that part.’ I guess he thought that since he was a MAN, I would just be ‘the little woman’ and obey.
The whole department was so surprised when they missed a deadline because I hadn’t signed off on the project. The CEO got involved.
So I had to pull out my voluminous notebook of government regulations and read to them each individual regulation that wasn’t met. Each time, the CEO looked at the engineer and said, ‘Did you do that?’
‘Get it done.’
Yeah, all the engineers worked late that night. I had the corrected stuff on my desk in the morning.”