If you're a woman who's ever had any job (and, frankly, even if you haven't), you're probably aware of the misogyny most of us experience in the workplace. Of course, it's so (unfortunately) normalized that men often feel impressively shameless when it comes to saying outright condescending, sexist, and generally inappropriate things to their female colleagues.
1. "I opened a door for a male colleague. He gestured for me to go first, and I graciously nodded. As I proceeded to walk, he followed behind me, saying, 'I love watching your ass.' I should also mention that we work in the legal field."
2. "During a company lay off, I was told that I was being laid off because my husband worked, but some of my male coworkers had wives at home who didn't work, so I would be okay. I was also told that I was the better employee, but there are other things they needed to consider.
"I was 28 at the time."
—Anonymous, Florida, 61
3. "I worked in a restaurant, and my manager told me that he had read an article that said that if a woman can orgasm consistently from vaginal sex, it changes the gait of her walk. He proceeded to tell me that he could tell by my stride that I have no problem getting off.
"Another incident: During an internship with an MLB team, my supervisor came up behind me with a power drill and revved it in my ear. He then asked if I was ready to get drilled."
4. "I was in my 20s and working for local government. Our department had a year-end accomplishment event. Each person had to write and perform a skit about their program's accomplishments for that year. The skits were to be filmed and then shown at this event. Two men in their 50s were overseeing the whole thing. One day, they came into my office because they didn't like something about my script. In reality, they didn’t understand the program that I ran, and the changes they wanted me to make were flat out inaccurate. I respectfully explained that the way the script was written most accurately represented the program and that I appreciated their feedback. One of them got real close to me — I was sitting down, and he was standing — leaned into my face, and said, 'You're the poster child for why women should be hit.'
"I was stunned, and I froze. I told my boss, who told her boss, etc. He got reprimanded and had to apologize to me but faced no real consequences."
5. "I had a manager tell me that he was going to spank me because I hadn't written my order yet. When I said, 'Excuse me?' he said it again. Earnestly."
6. "A 35-year-old zoo supervisor asked me to talk differently. When I asked what exactly he meant — tone, volume, etc. — he told me that I sounded too sure of myself and that other people might react better if I spoke like each answer was a question. I asked, 'You want me to raise the pitch of my voice at the end of a sentence like this?' and demonstrated it. He replied, 'Yes, like that.' I said, 'No. When I have a question, I will ask like it is a question.'"
7. "While working my way through nursing school, I worked at a care home as a nursing assistant. I was certified to administer medications, and the cart we kept medications in was, essentially, in a walk-in closet. One day, a maintenance man on campus had to fix an overhead light in the closet. I still had to get to the cart to pull out medications, so we were working around each other. He needed a power tool plugged in, and I was closest to the outlet, so I got down to plug it in for him. He said, 'That's a sight I could get used to.' I didn't really catch his meaning, so I laughed and said, 'What?' He responded, 'You on your knees.' I was honestly shocked silent at his boldness and felt cornered in the small space.
"I don't even know how I reacted! He was at least several decades older than me. I came to find out later that his wife left him because of his infidelities. He ended up sleeping in his maintenance van on campus before finally being let go for — get this — sexual harassment. I just wish I’d reported him sooner."
8. "One day, I received a forwarded call from a man who wanted to talk about a project that I was working on. He gave no introduction; he just immediately began talking over me. The project was about demolishing a historic building, and I was working the legal compliance for it. (This is a public process, so we always have to hear people out.) He's a talker, so after awhile, he asked how I'd gotten into historic preservation. I said, 'I started as a structural engineer and then got a master's in preservation.' His shocked response: 'You're an engineer!? But, you sound like a woman!' Yes, I can be both.
"That's not even the worst experience I have had, but it was the hardest I've ever wanted to slam a phone down for sure."
—Anonymous, Washington, DC, 37
9. "At a team meeting, I disagreed with someone (calmly and all that). After that, at my next one-on-one, my boss said that he didn't know what was wrong with me, but that I needed to be medicated. What the fuck? I'm not allowed to disagree with people?"
10. "Back in college, I used to be a server at a restaurant. Another server would ask me out almost every shift — sometimes multiple times — no matter how many times I told him I was not interested. He never stopped! I finally went to my manager about it, and his advice to me was to 'ugly myself up' for work."
—Anonymous, Nebraska, 32
11. "I was in a meeting with one other woman and about 30 men. We were throwing around ideas about a new software that we were implementing, and I mentioned something that would possibly cause an issue down the road if we didn't build it into the software now. The CEO added on to what I said, which helped validate my idea. My immediate boss was 'so glad that [the CEO] said something,' because, otherwise, he 'was going to disregard what [I] had said.'"
12. "While working as an RN in a cardiology clinic, I'd notified the cardiologist that his patient's echocardiogram showed a significant decrease in cardiac function over the last six months. He was dubious at first, but after reading the report, he agreed with me and said, 'Even a blind squirrel can find an occasional acorn.'"
"We were both 64."
—Anonymous, Washington, 66
13. "I went to an interview for an internship while simultaneously dealing with a serious sport injury and recovering from an illness. I was up front with the interviewer about it, especially as I was moving pretty slowly and my voice sounded awful. A few days later, he offered me the position. Then, about half an hour after receiving the offer email, I received another email from this man, stating, 'Having now offered you the position, I want to express my hope that the person who walks into my office in January is the bright, vivacious young woman I saw flashes of during our interview, and not the drab, somewhat awkward person I interviewed.'
"It's something that still flashes through my head before every interview, even now."
—Anonymous, Massachusetts, 26
14. "While feeding a hospitalized infant, a 49-year-old physician said to then 28-year-old me (I am large-busted), 'I'll bet you could breastfeed the whole nursery.'"
—Anonymous, Virginia, 72
15. "When I was 33, I was going through my yearly review at my IT job. My reviews were always great. This was in the early '90s and in a heavily male-dominated field. That year, however, the review was different because I'd been out for eight weeks after having a C-section for my second child. I was told that I was not going to get the high-percentage raise that I was accustomed to because there was an eight-week period during which I could not be observed. At that point, I said, 'Excuse me?' in that are-you-fucking-joking-me tone.
"Let's just say that I went over his head. Guess who got that badass raise!? 🤜"
—Anonymous, Texas, 60
16. "My department head was often heard saying that there were several rooms women belonged in, but the board room wasn't one. At that same company, I overheard two senior men — both in their late 40s — coming out of an interview. They were talking about the woman they'd just interviewed, saying that she'd be perfect for the job but that it was a 'shame' she was wearing an engagement ring because she'd just spend all her time planning her wedding instead of working. Then, once that was over, she'd soon be pregnant and taking paid leave!
17. "Another doctor I worked with told me I had a great ass but should really consider getting a boob job. He even offered to get me a professional discount.
"I was 25, and he was 40."
—Anonymous, Indiana, 50
18. "During the Me Too movement, I had a 47-year-old male colleague refuse to speak to any of his female colleagues alone because we could say anything we wanted happened in a one-on-one meeting with him, and he was just protecting himself. At the same time, I actually was being harassed at work by a male colleague, and my male boss and his male supervisor wouldn't do anything about it."
—Anonymous, Indiana, 32
19. "I worked in a nursing home, and a resident slapped my butt (he had a brain injury). I reported it to my female boss, who didn't do anything about it. I then told the male director of the facility, and he said that there was nothing he could do about it. He also added, 'You should see how hard it is for me to be in a female-dominated field.'"
—Anonymous, Ohio, 31
20. "I got engaged when I was 26 and was excited to tell my coworkers. My 70-year-old boss overheard and angrily said, 'Now you're just going to get pregnant and be useless.'"
—Anonymous, Texas, 32
21. "I've had men say completely unprofessional things to me in the workplace, but the worst is not being spoken to at all. When I was in undergrad, I worked as a student worker on the business end of my school's athletic department. I've always been passionate about sports and logistics (I'm now pursuing a law degree focused on sports and entertainment law). I was in charge of scheduling and projects for the other student workers, all of whom were male. Our building housed all of the athletic facilities, as well as the business and coaching offices. Student workers had desks near the front, so we always got a lot of foot traffic. Whenever male employees (directors, coaches, equipment managers, etc.) would come through, they'd say hi to all the male student workers and talk about sports. They would never say a word to me. Even if they wanted to talk about projects I was in charge of, they'd approach the male employees, who'd then point them to me.
22. "During the call to offer me the position, I asked about the (pathetically) low salary and if there was any wiggle room. The male hiring manager hemmed and hawed a bit before ending the discussion by saying, 'Since you have a boyfriend to support you, a higher wage isn't really necessary.' He only knew I lived with my now-husband because I had to explain a career gap due to us moving for his job. I had years of experience and a master's degree!"
—Anonymous, Arizona, 31
23. "I was told that a male new hire who was completely inexperienced was making more than I was because he had a family to support. I was a supervisor. My responsibilities included opening and closing the store, being a key-holder, handling banking and payroll, and training new employees (including said new hire). My education was in the field we worked in. Basically, I was worth less because I'm a woman.
"My experience, position, responsibilities, etc. were worth nothing because I am not a man."
—Anonymous, Michigan, 56
24. "One of my bosses ordered me to take down a shelf. In terms of height, it was hung over my head. Well, turns out, the shelf had some 'hidden goodies' on it, and they slammed into my eyes and glasses — making an absolute mess of both — as I took it down. My boss then took my glasses off my face, saying they were chipped, and walked off with them. I am blind enough that I could not make out which blob was him in the sea of blobs. I expected him to come back with my glasses after cleaning them or something (because why else would you take someone's glasses?). I had had my eyes cleaned out at the eye station, and he still hadn't returned. After an hour, someone led me to his office, where he said he had thrown out my glasses in the trash compactor. He claimed, 'You look much more attractive to me without your glasses. From now on, you will wear contact lenses.'
"I immediately made an HR claim. Thank god that there were witnesses. They paid for a new set of glasses and the shitty emergency pair I needed in the meantime."
25. "I was working at a small startup where the CEO's son, who was a lawyer, was the only HR we had. One of the developers had asked me out several times and wouldn’t take no for an answer. At the same time, the marketing director was also giving me creepy vibes and stared at me a lot. When I expressed my concerns in a one-on-one with the HR rep, he said to me, 'Well, those are attractive people problems.'"
26. "I was out for a business dinner with my boss and a client. We all ordered appetizers, and when mine came, my boss asked me, in front of our client, 'Do you know how many calories are in that?' He absolutely thought nothing of it, as if that were a totally normal thing to ask someone. I can't imagine a situation where this would have been asked of one of my male coworkers.
27. "I had been working in sales for almost 10 years and in Saas (Software as a Service) for five when I applied for a role at a new company that I was more than qualified for. I made it to the final round of interviews: A roundtable with three managers, all of whom were men. I was excited because I really want this job. Everything was going well until one manager, at the end of the interview, asked me 'if being a woman in sales, especially selling tech, was challenging' and asked me to give examples of how I've overcome this (overcome being a woman!?) and how I plan to do the same in the role. I was almost too shocked to answer, but somehow, I said something and finished the interview. I left feeling completely worthless and like no matter how qualified I was, I was 'just another woman' to these men.
"I then emailed my points of contact at the company and let them know what happened. I told them that because of this, I will not consider this position no matter what offer they send my way.
"To the company's credit, both the director of HR and director of sales reached out with apologies and were both sincere. I was proud of myself for taking action, and it all worked out as I have a much better job now. However, I do think about that asshole and hope he learned some kind of lesson."
28. "I worked at a data center, and one of my tasks was to set up access cards. This required getting fingerprints on the door scanner and setting them up in the computer. One time, our sales guy had a group of four middle-aged white men who'd just bought some data center space, and he called me in to do the card setup. I stood off to the side while they finished talking. He then turned to me, turned back to the men with a smirk, and said in the smarmiest voice imaginable, 'Tryst here is going to take you guys into the back room for a few minutes, heh heh heh.' The entire table laughed in that gross way that makes you feel violated.
"It was awful. I went outside afterward, called my husband, and ranted to him for a few minutes. I am pleased to say that, at the end of the day, I confronted that asshole, told him that what he did was wrong, and made him apologize, including admitting that he was wrong and saying that he would never say anything like that again. It was so satisfying to see him look humiliated."
29. "My former, 60-year-old boss pulled me and another female coworker aside to speak to us. He wanted to talk about another female coworker — barely in her 20s — and didn't want to approach her himself. I asked what was wrong, and he said, 'Her face is really broken out. Haven't you noticed? I mean, it looks terrible, and she's got all those big, red sores. Can't you girls give her some makeup tips? It's just not pretty to look at, you know?' I was so stunned. My coworker and I just stared at him like, Are you serious? He just kept pleading for us to 'help' her look 'pretty.'
"I finally told him that no, I could never say that to anyone, and that it wasn't appropriate. I then walked away seething. Women aren't meant to just 'be pretty' for anyone."
—Anonymous, South Carolina, 36
30. "I worked with another female account manager. My male boss was looking to hire a third account manager, and when it looked like the female candidate was the better choice, he said he would have to buy an X-ray machine and keep it at work to give us all enough radiation that we wouldn't get pregnant and go off on maternity leave!"
31. "I work in the construction business as a home remodeler and designer. When I was 19, I took an internship with a local home remodeling company so I could learn the ins and outs. One day, as we were walking through a sub-contractor bid meeting, one of our talented (and regularly-used) contractors pulled out his tape measure, got right up next to me, and whispered in my ear, 'You know what 16 inches looks like?' I was so visibly uncomfortable and painfully shy at the time, so I said nothing and just laughed.
32. "I'm a system architect with over 10 years of experience and almost 20 certifications for the main platform I focus on. About three months ago, I was leading a demo for a new functionality that my team member and I had built. There were about 12 other people on the call. Some were asking questions about how stuff worked, and I was answering them. It was going well. Then, this dude goes to ask a question and prefaces it with, 'This is probably more a question for [male team member].'