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Is it sexism, or just irritating condescension?

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in Your Office Coach

Q: “After starting a new job with a small business, I noticed that there seems to be a lot of sexism here. Everything was fine at first, but lately things have gotten worse. The older men treat the younger women terribly, and the older women do nothing to stop it.

“I have experienced this sexism personally. The older men constantly make me feel inadequate because I am just out of college. They say that I should show them more respect. However, I don’t know how to deal with them when they get angry or act irrational.

“I don’t want to remain silent about this situation, but there is no one to complain to. The company is very small, so we don’t have a human resources manager. What should I do?” Mistreated

A: Since the older women are apparently exempt from this condescending treatment, I suspect the problem is not just sexism, but also a certain arrogance towards new entrants into the workforce. People with long tenure often enjoy flaunting their experience, which can be quite maddening to new graduates.

Although their haughtiness is undoubtedly annoying, try to understand that you do seem quite young to these old-timers. If you want them to value your abilities, you must show some respect for the lessons they have learned in the trenches. So listen patiently to their “war stories” and make an effort to appreciate their point of view.

Should the “sexism” ever escalate into sexual harassment, then you should either leave or file a legal complaint. But if these guys are simply acting like unprofessional dimwits, don’t allow their immaturity to interfere with your success.

One question to consider is how this position fits into your overall career goals. If working for this company is a valuable step towards your desired future, then you would be wise to tolerate a certain amount of frustration. But if it’s simply a stopgap job, just stick it out until you find a more rewarding place to work.

Have you ever taken a new job where things just seemed to be "wrong"? You may have been experiencing a culture clash: How to Spot the "Culture Clues" at Work.

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