How to Cope with Workplace Sexism

Whether it’s some random comment, routine harassment or blatant discrimination, sexism in the workplace poses a potential threat to professional women everywhere. There are testimonies on top of testimonies of cases in which a female employee was disrespected, disregarded, bullied and even sexually harassed on the job — by employers, colleagues and customers alike — all based on her gender.

But what do you do? Do you get angry and risk being called unstable? Or, God forbid, be asked, “Gee, are you on your period or something?” Do you silently ignore it? Do you report it? There are lots of different strategies for dealing with workplace sexism depending on the situation, and knowing them can be valuable to any woman regardless of her career.

1. Report it.Try talking to a member of the human resources department, your boss or even a lawyer. These things can be dealt with quickly and painlessly when handled using the proper channels.

2. Take back the power.If someone makes a sexist comment towards you, challenge them on it. Call them out. Be offended. This will push them into the defensive and (hopefully) inspire empathy towards you.

3. Keep your distance.If you’re uncomfortable, reduce the amount of time you spend around those who are harassing you. Sometimes this is a safe option in regards to personal safety and job security.

4. Form a support/networking group amongst the other women in your company.There is always strength in numbers. If you are experiencing sexism in your workplace, chances are you are not alone, and connecting with others that can relate to your experiences can be a valuable asset.

5. Grin and bare it.Success has often been called the best revenge in these situations. Taking the high road appeals to some people and is just as valid an option.

6. Request a transfer or leave the company.No job is worth being disrespected or demeaned, especially if it is stunting your ability to progress in your desired field. Don’t be afraid to leave and go to another company! It is not a personal or professional failure to decide you deserve better.