From Handsiness to “He-Peating”: 18 Women on the Male Workplace Behaviors They Hate

Today, let's shut up and listen

By The Editors
March 8, 2019 9:00 am

The workplace is a microcosm of society. You get the best and worst of people, typically in an enclosed, stressful environment.

You also get a lot of men behaving badly, as has been made abundantly clear in recent months (or years, or decades).

So today, let’s shut up and listen: to 18 women, all of whom we asked, “What’s one thing you wish men would stop doing in the workplace?”

Their answers range from small, annoying microaggressions to more malicious and systemic behaviors.

“[They] leave me out of small-talk conversations because they assume I don’t know what they’re talking about — politics, sports, music, entertainment, comedy, film, you name it. Men will converse on said topics without any attempt to ask for my opinion or bring me into the conversation. Even if I don’t know the score of last night’s game, I would like to be treated like I might!”
— Chelsea, 27, Client Success Manager

“I hate when men in my office say ‘you wouldn’t understand’ just because I’m a woman. It happens more when I’m in a room of guys and they are joking around about something.”
— Jennifer, 29, Account Manager

Save ten years ago when my boss tried to kiss me in my annual review, I’m fortunate enough to have always worked with phenomenal men. These days, the thing I wish fellas would stop doing is getting paid more than me for doing the same damn work. I don’t think it’s too much to ask. Don’t touch me and equal pay. Bar’s pretty low, people.
— Otto, 37, Client Management

“Harassment in the workplace is often more than what meets the eye. Sometimes, it’s a drunk guy grabbing your ass at an industry conference, and other times it’s a subtle grazing of the lower back while moving past someone behind the bar. But there is never any valid reason to physically touch a person in the workplace beyond a professional gesture, like a handshake. What you might perceive as meaningless or friendly might violate someone’s personal space or comfort zone, so it’s best to err on the side of caution. Even the smallest physical touch can seem like a declaration of territory or dominance, even if you genuinely meant no harm. This applies to every workplace or scenario, whether it’s a bar or an office or a work trip; it applies to all genders, too.”
— Celine Bossart, Wine and Spirits Journalist

“When asked a question they don’t know the answer to, the men in my workplace are more likely to confidently assert an absolutely false answer than admit they don’t have one. The women I work with are more likely to respond with correct information or say, ‘Let me check on that and get back to you.’ For example: My boss recently claimed to know something about a client’s background on a team call. He was wrong; I corrected him. Then he started arguing that he was definitely right. Again: he was not.”
— Jess, 29, Advertising

“Getting promoted even when they’re already bad at the job they have currently?”
— Anonymous, Culture Reporter

“I don’t know about what they would stop doing, but I know I’d like more men to start standing up and advocating for others (men and women) when they hear something unflattering or offensive in the office.”
— Terry, 42, Human Resources Supervisor

“Stop repeating my ideas as if they were their own. During a meeting, I recommended an idea for how we can fix the motivation problem we’ve been having with our camp counselors. A male coworker told me I had made a very good point. He then repeated the idea to my boss, neglecting to credit me. Then my boss told him that those were great ideas, and he’d love to implement them this summer and see how they work out.”
— Madeline, 20, Teen Program Unit Director

“I am lucky to work with a group of upstanding, respectful and generally woke men (and I’m not just saying that because I’m a salaried employee of this very publication). That said, working with a group of men in a chummy, laid-back environment can be a double-edged sword. I love the old ‘Is a hotdog a sandwich?’ debate as much as the next guy, but sometimes I just want to get in, get out and check things off the to-do list. Plentiful are the moments when we’re in a team meeting and the conversation — commandeered by one of my male compadres — takes a sharp left turn into a totally unrelated, unproductive topic. Call me Type A, call me a buzzkill, but I tend to find myself playing the disciplinarian forced to wrangle the masses back to the topic at hand. And playing babysitter ain’t fun. So guys, let’s try to stay on topic and wrap this meeting up within the 30-minute mark, shall we? Oh, and one other thing … STOP CLIPPING YOUR FINGERNAILS AT YOUR DESK.”
–Megan Duffey, Director of Branded Content, InsideHook

“I already have to deal with customers making inappropriate comments to me. I don’t need it from the people I work with as well. One of my managers began playfully flirting with me, and at first, I thought I could just ignore it — like whatever, some playful flirting isn’t gonna kill me — but then it started to get physical. I noticed he was constantly touching me or purposefully bumping into me. When I expressed that this made me uncomfortable he told me to ‘fucking chill’ and that he ‘didn’t even mean it like that.’ I’ve also had experiences where male coworkers have described what they’d do to me sexually.”
— Emily, 20, Food Industry

“Overall, the men in my office are truly doing well (at least in action), but what I would like to see change are these seemingly casual but actually extremely misogynistic one-off remarks that keep getting tossed around in the office. Last week, I overhead one guy talking about being a nerd in high school and he remarked, ‘Don’t you remember just hating women because they wouldn’t sleep with you?’ Another guy walked into a man’s office and upon seeing a feminist button hanging above his desk said, ‘Really? Should we all be feminists? Don’t be a wimp.’ Another man walked past a very accomplished and high-powered editor and told her to smile. It baffles me because women in my office get treated with respect work-wise and are advancing on pace with men — I just don’t think these men think for even a second before they open their mouths.”
— Julia, 28, Marketing Manager

“When you are an assertive woman in the workplace, it’s a bad thing. If you are outspoken when accountability was lacking or a deliverable wasn’t met, you’re talked about by male coworkers and called high maintenance or even a bitch.”
— Erin, 38, Copywriter at Fortune 50 Company

“One major pet peeve for me is when I’m minding my own business in the work cafeteria, grabbing some chicken here or some hummus there, happily salivating over what I’m about to consume, and I gradually I start to feel a gaze my way … Some male employee in the line next to me is performing an intense 10 second examination of my food bowl. Then he runs his eyes up and down me as though sizing me up, before looking back at the food bowl with a surprised look on his face. Yes, I like to eat. I’m a human. I occasionally like to pile my plate a little higher than he might “expect” for a small woman. But don’t make me feel uncomfortable or embarrassed about it! That silent judgment KILLS.”
—Katie, 24, United Nations

“Not trusting that I know how to do my job.  If you wouldn’t second guess a response if it came from a male colleague, please don’t second guess it when it comes from me.” 
—Anonymous, Lobbyist

“MANSPLAINING! Mansplaining is rampant. Here’s an example: I’ve sat through more than one meeting listening to men educate me on what women want and how they make purchase decisions. Even better, most times they were targeting women who were exactly my demographic — age, marital status, education level, city, industry, income, hobbies — yet NONE of it resonated with me. Suggestions were ignored, or worse, brought up by one of them loudly in the next meeting and they all patted each other on the back for thinking of it (aka ‘he-peating’). This is how things like kitten heels end up on shelves.
—Emily, 31, Public Relations

“Are you on your period?”
—Marissa, 38, Apparel

“Some men in my workplace walk around with their wireless headsets talking to clients as if no one else is around. They want to look important I guess … make us all think they have a lot of business going on. Just stay in your office or car and take calls like a humble realtor.”
—Ellen, 54, Real Estate

“Working in STEM I am often confronted with casual misogyny. Men often try and explain my industry to me, discounting my 20 years of experience. Most frustrating is when a male colleague uses their physical size to impart (enforce) their dominance. Just the other day a collaborator showed up, unannounced, blocked the doorway that I was trying to pass through. He did not ask if I had time for him, just stood there, silently.”
— Debbie, 44, Scientist

Main image via AMC

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