There are many, many ways in which men and women are not ‘equal’ in the workforce.
There are the obvious, big issues, like pay equality and board quotas – these are often discussed and they’re important. Many businesses are looking for ways to rectify the imbalance and hopefully, it won’t be long before male and female wages will be less impacted by gender, and more influenced by capability and experience.
But there’s another issue at play in the workforce, and I don’t know if it’s one we’ll actually ever conquer. Not without major, fundamental societal change, that is.
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It’s something that every single woman who has ever worked has had to deal with at some point.
I’m talking about sexual harassment.
Now you might be reading this, thinking, “Well I’m a woman and I’ve never been sexually harassed.”
Well to be clear, my definition of sexual harassment doesn’t simply mean a man physically assaulting a woman.
I’m also talking about all of the ways a man exerts his power in a sexual way, to subvert you as a woman.
Things like offering you a job, promotion or opportunity, and then taking that offer away because you don’t want to sleep with him.
Or going so far as to fire you for thwarting his sexual advances.
Or engaging you in flirty conversation that you really don’t want to be a part of, but that you don’t know how to shut down, so you banter back.
Or being hit on when you really just want to get on with your work.
Or the hugs that last a little too long; the hands that rests too low on your hip; the unwanted comments about what you’re wearing or how you look or how much you weigh.
These are not things that men have to worry about.
But they’re scenarios that women deal with all the time.
We may be working towards equality in the workplace – but until these types of daily power plays are reigned in, women are always going to be on the back foot in the workplace.