As a millennial woman, I grew up hearing one message at home, only to get hit with some completely different ideas when I entered the workforce. At home, I had a stay-at-home dad who made sure I knew I could be anything I wanted to be, taught me traditionally "masculine" things like how to use tools, and encouraged me to picture myself as anything from a race car driver to an astronaut.
But when I started working, I quickly met people who had very different expectations for me based only on my gender. Like, at 17, I worked under a restaurant manager who insisted that my main purpose in life was to bear children (for the record, I can't and I don't want to, so he was double-wrong). And it's not just me. We've shared some stories from women who faced ridiculous sexism at work, and in the comments, members of the BuzzFeed Community shared even more. Here are their stories:
1. "I went to work for a small company, and they had some big wigs coming. All of the women in the office had to clean before they showed up, but the men got to continue doing their jobs."
2. "We had a male guest in the office who asked me to make him a cup of coffee. I knew he asked me because I was a woman, but I told him, in all honesty, 'Sorry, I don't know how to make coffee.' (I don't drink it either.) I thoroughly enjoyed his surprise and dismay."
3. "Male coworker who is 10+ years older asked me to write his report for him. When I asked why he was asking me — because I knew that wasn’t my job — he said, 'Only because you’re here in the room.' Later when I told another female colleague about it, she said he had asked her, too. When the guy had first started, most of the women in the office were secretaries who did type-up reports, but that’s not what we were. He did it himself and never asked again."
4. "I'm a doctor, and also a woman (shocking!). I briefly worked at an outpatient clinic where the other physicians were men. EVERY DAY I would receive numerous emails and instant messages from staff asking me questions about the other physicians' schedules and demanding that I call THEIR patients to organize scheduling. The other physicians not only allowed this, but turned up in my office repeatedly to ask me to organize their patient load and write down how they should schedule the day; whenever anyone called out sick, I was asked to call their patients to reschedule, or manage delegation of tasks. I was, of course, seeing a full roster of my own patients."
5. "We had a bat stuck in the doors of the grocery store I once worked at. Trying to help the poor little guy from more injury, I headed over to the floral department to get thick gloves to grab him. The floral manager asked me why I didn't grab one of the boys to do it. I replied that all the boys were currently hiding in their offices."
6. "I once worked a low paid office job that was almost unbearable except for the incredible friendships that I built with five of my female coworkers. We were all each other's work wives and would eat lunch together every day. One day, one of the older men who worked in the company stopped at our table and said with a smirk, 'What is this? A feminist meeting?' And I looked at him with a dead stare and said, 'No, Gerald, we are just women eating.' And God, it felt good. 🤣"
7. "I work with a chap who openly admitted to me that if he doesn’t want to do something, he’ll play the 'helpless man' card. He’ll play dumb until someone else (read: a woman) does it for him. I call him on it whenever I notice him doing it, and he’ll grin sheepishly, then do the task. It really frustrates me that he STILL thinks he can get away with it."
8. "My team was told we had to have minutes for a meeting; it was me (a woman) and three guys. I knew in my core they’d try to make me do it, so I started the meeting by asking who would take minutes. After, like, 20 seconds of silence, one guy said he would. About 45 minutes later, I noticed he hadn’t written anything. Someone said something pertinent to my role, so I jotted it down. After we were done, I told him it was really impressive that he just remembered everything we said, and he said, 'I saw you taking notes so I figured you could just do it.'"
"I 'joke' yelled that I knew they’d make the girl do it, but I doubled down. I made a fucking Google Doc and told them all to add their own notes because I only had one note and they could remember stuff as well as I could. We were reviewed on it, and only one of the guys actually added anything to the doc. I made it pretty clear we hadn’t designated a person and this was a team effort because sometimes, I’m the petty bitch I aspire to be."
9. "I am a medical professional, and I have had men patients ask me to bring them water or tea. That is not my job. Please ask the nurse, not the person that is helping to diagnose and treat you."
10. "HR once CC'ed me and ONLY the other women about a gift for a coworker (who I didn't even particularly like) who had just given birth. I replied that perhaps we could ask Luke, John, Bob, or the many other men who have several children, as I have none and have no idea what newborns might need."
11. "When I first started at my job, I was in another department where it was 99% men. I was an assistant, but not the personal kind in any way, shape, or form. So many of the drivers and warehouse guys thought I was there to clean their break room and make them coffee, go out and buy snacks and birthday shit, etc. One dude even had the audacity, and he was SERIOUS, to ask me to get his laundry done because he didn't have time. EXCUSE ME?"
"I said no to every single fucking thing, and my boss, a man, said to be 'nicer.' I told him to fuck off. I talk to them no different than how they talk and demand things from me, and if this continues, I will QUIT. He had a meeting with the warehouse guys about it, and eventually, the drivers caught on and stopped. But my God, seriously?"
12. "In college, I had a summer job as a receptionist in a small office full of salesmen. The first thing they asked me to do was to organize their files, which seemingly had never been attended to. It took me a day or two to get that in order. Then they told me to clean the bathroom — which was about the nastiest I had ever seen before or since. I did not do it. And when they sat around talking about how exactly they were planning to have sex with their girlfriends, l quit. No job is worth that kind of B.S."
13. "I work with all men. There are a few women, but they work in the office. I'm the only female in the field with all men. God forbid I'm not smiling one day and the constant comments of 'you should really smile more.' Always being called darling or princess. And not letting me carry things because it might be too heavy. I love the guys I work with, but sometimes, I feel like they think I'm super frail and dainty. And about the smile comments, how many people actually stand around and smile at nothing all day? Not many."
14. "Literally 90% of my last job was in a hugely male-dominated law enforcement world. I outranked almost all and had almost two decades of experience on them and was still greeted (along with the female receptionists or accountants) with 'hey girls' by one of the chiefs daily. Zero respect given, and the subjugation was horrid."
"Meeting minutes? Check.
Making sure the guys all set their trash out? Check.
Documents. Graphics projects. Phone calls to disgruntled complainants? Check, check, check.
Booking travel or venues? Check.
NONE of which even REMOTELY fell under my job description. Been groped and hit on 'til I had to lock my office door to feel safe. Been flat out propositioned to 'earn my promotion' despite outscoring all others in testing. Have had kids brought to my office to watch while the guys were too busy.
Finally had enough and quit in December. Daily migraines vanished!"
15. "I was the only female on a seven-person leadership team. At my first executive meeting, a peer asked me if I was going to take notes on the meeting and then send them out afterwards. I responded, 'Are you asking this because I’m the head of HR or the only woman present?' (Either way I was not okay with the request.) He responded that my predecessor had always done this (also only female). We decided we could all take our own notes from then on. It was the first of many surprising sexist requests and experiences there."
16. "I was expected to wash the dishes that my male coworkers used when they would eat at work. Knowing I was the only other person working at the time, they would put their dirty dishes in the sink and leave, and I was the only other person there. I was not an assistant to them nor was I a janitor or maid. If I didn’t do them, I would get complaints about me from the men, as well as other women working other shifts there who would end up doing the dishes for the men."
17. "My second year out of college I was working as a data analyst for a large NY bank. On the whole I loved my job, my manager, and my team. However, the managing director (boss’s boss’s boss) of our org insisted that another analyst (also female) and I plan events for the entire org, as a way to team-build. So, in our very limited free time, we had to call bowling alleys, escape rooms, etc. to schedule these events, keep track of attendees, and stay within our budget. At first I assumed he asked us because his admin was also busy so he was punting to the analysts, but over and over he would ask her and me, and never once asked one of the male analysts."
"Finally I said to him, 'Asking me and [other female analyst’s name] again, huh. Why not [white guy analyst A] and [white guy analyst B]?' and his response was to laugh and say, 'I would, but I know they wouldn’t do as good a job as [you] two, plus don’t ladies love to plan events?' Agh."