5 Things Women Deserve To Hear At Work, But Often Don't
In case you missed the memo, women get told a lot of sexist things at work. They're told they're too outspoken, that they're speaking or dressing the wrong way, and that they should stay in their place. There are many very different things women deserve to hear at work, but they often don't hear them. By changing the way we speak to women at and about their jobs, we can start to rectify workplace inequalities that end up hurting people of all genders and the companies where they work.
It's sometimes hard to notice sexism in the workplace because it's subtle, but inequitable treatment of female and gender-nonconforming employees is frequently observed — and scientifically proven. One Brigham Young University and Princeton study found that men take up about 75 percent of professional meetings, and the survey Elephant in the Valley found that 84 percent of women in the tech industry had been considered too aggressive at work.
When women are told they're too aggressive or taught not to speak up, they learn to doubt their abilities and hold back their opinions. Here are some things they could be told instead to help them thrive in the workplace:
1. "What do you think?"
Too often, instead of learning to think for themselves, women are taught to be people-pleasers and defer to others' opinions. Asking a woman what she thinks sends her a message she doesn't always hear: that her perspective matters.
2. "I'm glad you brought it up."
Because women are taught not to stick up for themselves, it can go a long way to praise someone who asks for a raise or a promotion, even if you can't give it to her, or to let her know you're glad she offered a suggestion even if you end up rejecting it.
3. "I respect your work."
Women's work is devalued, not only because they're women but also because of the type of work women often do. In fact, these two things are very intertwined: When more women enter a field, the pay decreases. So, it helps to let women know their work is as valued as men's, at least in your eyes.
4. "Want to join us?"
In male-dominated fields, women are often left out of not only work-related conversations but also social activities. It can mean a lot to someone who is traditionally excluded to be included in after-work drinks or an office ping-pong match.
5. "I understand your concern."
When you don't feel like you can talk about your concerns to anyone, it creates a hostile work environment — often even more so than the concerns themselves. Being sexually harassed at work and having nobody to talk to, for example, can be an isolating experience. So can feeling overlooked by your boss and not being able to communicate that. One way to advocate for women in their workplaces is to let them advocate for themselves — and they can only do that if they know they won't be punished for it.