“A Man Told Me To Smile In My Cubicle” And 15 Other Things Real Women Have Dealt With In Male-Dominated Workplaces
"A colleague of mine was fired for being pregnant."
"I am a woman who owns a brewery. People often say things like, 'who brews the beer?', 'I know where you get your yeast,' 'do you need a man to carry that?', and 'head back to the kitchen and make me a sandwich' ... this and so much more."
"Less than 3% of breweries are solely woman-owned (as ours is), and those numbers become even more dismal when you add Black/brown, disabled, queer, etc. The brewing industry is a difficult space to be as a woman, and alcohol being added to any situation means sexual harassment and assault are rampant."
"I used to work in the transportation and logistics field. I was once told that a male coworker needed a raise because he was the head of household, but I didn't need one because I had a boyfriend. All of the warehouse workers, drivers, and the majority of the office staff were male, so I had to deal with mansplaining and having my ideas repeated to me as if my male counterpart thought of it first."
"I was once told not to help unload an ocean container because I might break a nail and file an L&I claim. If I worked out a load plan, someone always wanted to rework it only to find that my load plan was the most logical. It was so stressful."
"I'm an inventory specialist where I do a lot of heavy lifting, buying items, receiving deliveries, etc. Almost every single time a delivery man has dropped off something heavy, they ask variations of 'You got any men to help you lift that?' And I always say 'Don't need them!' I carry the delivery myself or use a dolly. I'm 5'10" and a few times the delivery men have called me 'little lady' despite me being taller than them."
"As annoying as it is sometimes, showing them that I don't need a man's help gives me a huuuuuge confidence boost. Whenever it happens, it turns into a fun 'shit-talking men' night with the lady friends!"
"I’m the only LGBTQ+ female welder in my shop. My skills as a female welder are often questioned. I have to prove my skills way more often than any of my male counterparts. If my skill set isn't being questioned, I get mansplained the very basic details of my job as if I haven’t been doing this for a few years. Oh, and the number of times I hear male coworkers say, 'If she didn’t want to be looked at, she wouldn’t dress like that' is downright astronomical."
"I can’t change how people view women in weld shops, but I can work to change how people view me in weld shops. I hope it creates a ripple effect at some point."
"I cannot tell you how many times I've been questioned about my skills in the kitchen despite having graduated from culinary school. When I was hired as a cook, the male executive chef had me doing things like I was his personal assistant."
"Another time, I got so tired of all my male coworkers talking shit to each other and just being in bad moods in general, so I yelled, 'If y'all really want to have a dick-measuring contest right now, I'll whip mine out and put everyone to shame. Shut up and do your jobs!' They shut up and did their jobs."
"The office is always too cold. I only learned this a couple of weeks back, but men adapt easier to a colder environment. Since AC was only tested on men, women may find ourselves quite chilly in the office."
The study being referred to was conducted by Nature Climate Change. It found that most office buildings set temperatures based on an old formula that uses the metabolic rates of men. In conclusion, the study said that companies should reduce gender-discriminating bias when it comes to the comfort of in-office temperatures.
"I work in data, which is male-dominated, but think these experiences can happen in any field. Here are some themes... Theme number one is incompetent, higher-paid, and more senior male colleagues get their jobs by knowing somebody — I've had the fun task of training and cleaning up after these folks. There is no 'good girl network' counterpart. Another theme is pregnancy, for sure. A colleague of mine was fired for being pregnant — this is legal in the US if the employer has under 15 employees."
"She was then stuck unemployed — no one wants to hire a pregnant person, and if you're lucky enough to find a job that will, they probably won't offer maternity leave or job security."
"I'm a female mechanical engineer. There have been a lot of sexist incidents in my career, like being talked over in meetings, not being taken seriously, being mansplained to when I am an expert in the topic, hearing men openly objectify women in the middle of the workday in the office, and being told that female engineers are either ugly or slept their way to success. But the most infuriating was when a man told me to smile more — in my cubicle, in the middle of the workday."
"Working in tech, especially in startups, the executive leadership is 99% male — most of which are white men. Decisions get made in a completely different way when there are no women in leadership. Big, sweeping changes get handed down with little to no consideration on how it affects people. Recruiting is less diverse and starts to look like an echo chamber, and ego gets in the way of any real change if a problem is identified. It affects the whole company."
"When I left my old job, my number one criterion was women in the c-suite and I happened to find a women-led company. The difference in workplace culture is so stark it's shocking. The environment at my current workplace is HIGHLY collaborative. Everyone's perspective is valued and everyone's work is valued. When decisions are made, the affected parties/teams are looped in. It feels revolutionary. All because of women in leadership."
"I can't tell you how many times I was told that I MUST have slept my way to my current level because it's impossible for a woman to be attractive, large-busted, AND intelligent."
"I’m an engineer under 30. Engineering in the UK isn’t diverse in any way. There’s the usual mansplaining, ageism, being told you don’t look like an engineer, etc. Some highlights: myself and another female colleague were paid at least £7k less than our male colleagues — despite consistently doing more and better quality work (we also received 0.5% raises whilst they got 3-4%), I was told I should go to speech therapy to make my voice easier for men to listen to, told outright that I wasn’t worth listening to because I wasn’t old enough to know anything (for context, I was 26, had a Masters in mechanical engineering and had a couple of years experience in the industry), told my nails were too pretty to be using Allen keys, and I was accidentally sent extremely graphic messages from a group chat."
"I haven’t taken any of this lying down but all that’s done is get me labelled a troublemaker."
"I work in engineering and facilities management and am the only woman in my office in a management position. I am also the only POC. All in all, I'm treated with respect, but I get left out of certain things and if I speak up, then I'm thought of as emotional or high-strung. I know if I was a man, I wouldn't need to stand my ground that way."
"I’m the only female engineer at the manufacturing plant I work at. For the most part, people are okay, but it can be very isolating. I know my coworkers are hanging out outside of work and have separate group chats I’m not a part of. Not a huge deal but FOMO is real."
"I'm an Asian LGBTQ+ woman under 35 in the Army. The number of discriminatory comments I've heard over the years is insane! I'm quite short in stature and have a baby face, so I am frequently overlooked by seniors, peers, and juniors. I work hard to change this, and thankfully work in one of the most diverse and forward-thinking parts of the Armed Forces, but it's still a struggle..."
"I’m an interior designer, and the stereotype for that position is usually women and gay men. I work for a builder. My clients usually have no issues, but when it comes to the field workers, it’s 90% men. Superintendents get really nasty if you make errors and sometimes builder account sales agents (often also men) say some sexist things when they think no women are listening. I’ve also had my knowledge second-guessed by the sales agents."
"What sucks for me also is when I go to a store like Lowe's or Home Depot, I have to actually say I’m a designer for the staff to not treat me like I’m a clueless homeowner."
Thankfully, not every woman has had a negative experience working in a male-dominated industry, which makes us hopeful that things will change!
"I'm a woman who studied mechanical engineering (graduated in 2015). I now work in commercial insurance, essentially safety and fire protection engineering. To be honest, I've never had problems or felt discriminated against by my peers. A few of the old guys in the industry are patronizing at first until they realize I know my stuff, and I've had a few derogatory comments about my age (I look young). For the most part, though, it's been nothing but an advantage to be a woman in a male-dominated field! I have an instant bond with the few other women who are out there, and I've been recommended for promotions and leadership roles because people are always looking for even representation in leadership. I make a lot more money than most of my male friends, and my company promotes a great work/life balance (plenty of time off and excellent maternity leave). Plus I get business trips to Hawaii, so I really can't complain!
If you work in a field that is made up of mostly men, share your experience in the comments!
Some responses have been edited for length and/or clarity.