The workforce is not always a welcoming place for women. Though things have certainly changed, preconceived notions about what sorts of positions women hold in an office are pretty deeply engrained—as is general sexism. Most women who have encountered some pretty ridiculous assumptions from people at work, and while they're kind of a bummer when they happen, getting together to laugh about it is cathartic.
Reporter Nicola Bartlett tweeted about a man questioning who she was after she called him with a question. He assumed she was calling on behalf of another reporter, you see. A MAN reporter.
Sexist comment of the week (so far). Phone up a male MP and say I'm calling from the Daily Mirror, he asks me who I'm calling on behalf of. Erm myself a political journalist.— Nicola Bartlett (@NicolaRBartlett) January 30, 2018
"Sexist comment of the week (so far)," she began. "Phone up a male MP and say I'm calling from the Daily Mirror, he asks me who I'm calling on behalf of. Erm myself a political journalist."
This is apparently a common occurrence.
Other women journalists jumped in to share similar experiences. "I remember as a local reporter when people would phone to have a go at me for a story I had written, then be surprised I was a woman. My name is Jennifer. It said so on the byline," wrote one.
ah, flashbacks to the happy days of answering every call with "hello, no i'm not a secretary I'm a reporter"— Gaby Hinsliff (@gabyhinsliff) January 30, 2018
I remember as a local reporter when people would phone to have a go at me for a story I had written, then be surprised I was a woman. My name is Jennifer. It said so on the byline.— Jennifer-Anne Scott (@NifS) January 30, 2018
I had a policy of binning all letters addressed to Mr Gaby Hinsliff. Saved time.— Gaby Hinsliff (@gabyhinsliff) January 30, 2018
I still get things addressed to Mr Swinson...— Jo Swinson (@joswinson) January 30, 2018
Yes, it's called sexism, structurally ingrained in society— Jo Swinson (@joswinson) January 30, 2018
Man rang the news desk once asked to speak to a reporter, I told him he was speaking to one and he said ‘a female reporter, well done you’— Allison Morris (@AllisonMorris1) January 31, 2018
Someone tried to blame robots for this issue, which is very unfair to robots.
AI is more difficult than people think— al2️⃣play4️⃣ #FBPE (@alxbear) January 30, 2018
It's been happening for years. It's not AI to blame, just assumptions that MP / journalist / person in authority = man. The default is male.— Jo Swinson (@joswinson) January 30, 2018
i am reasonably confident AI was not handwriting letters to me 10 years ago tho if so, totally hats off— Gaby Hinsliff (@gabyhinsliff) January 30, 2018
But it's not just journalism where women are suspected of being job-having posers. All sorts of women got weird comments on the job. Sometimes even sitting in the wrong place means you'll be treated as someone's secretary:
I took over a desk from a female colleague who said I wouldn’t like it. A few weeks later I said I was puzzled, it seemed fine. She said “But you are sitting in front of Richard’s office, doesn’t everyone treat you as his secretary.” No. They didn’t.— Daniel Finkelstein (@Dannythefink) January 31, 2018
I often sit at a hotdesk in front of the lift. People sometimes do appear to assume I'm a receptionist. But...when my younger blonde female colleague (a clinical scientist) is sitting next me, that same assumption is far more often made about her.— James Munro (@JamesMunro5) January 31, 2018
You'd think the library would be a neutral place. It's not.
When I took over a post as Librarian a colleague said, You've inherited a male deputy. Everyone will think that you are actually his assistant. About half the young students.— Sarah Shaw (@Dymvue) January 31, 2018
Also a librarian- I've had students assume my male junior assistant is my boss and can override my decisions.— JL Kaufmann (@Reed_insists) January 31, 2018
In government, at the movies, in school...
Even had similar experience as a Government Minister...— Jo Swinson (@joswinson) January 30, 2018
I’m often asked “are you the PR girl” when I show up to press screening. I always delight in telling them, no I’m a film critic, but I’m interested in knowing why you think I am “the PR girl”. This happens all the time.— Linda Marric 🇪🇺 FBPE (@Linda_Marric) January 30, 2018
I’ve been wading through exam scripts and been astonished at how many have assumed the author of a key text for the course is a man. Her name is Lois, and I discussed her work often in class.— Katherine Schofield #FBPE (@katherineschof8) January 31, 2018
Don’t get me started on students who call male lecturers Dr/Prof and female ones Mrs.
Double whammy - my coworkers & I (all young women of color) were in line at a food truck making small talk with a man. He asked where we worked & after we told him, he automatically assumed we were all secretaries. We're all lawyers.— Bah Humpug (@funaek) January 31, 2018
Friend just alerted me to a podcast where I was referred to as ‘he’ after I spoke and was namechecked. Am shocked to hear that I am the only male Leah on the planet.— Leah Borromeo (@monstris) January 30, 2018
I started a new job recently. The number of times people assumed I was a PA was both ridiculous and insulting. Just because I'm a young woman, they assumed the only job I was capable of having there was handling crafty.— RL RUNESCAPE GF (@bunnybattleaxe) January 31, 2018
I'm the technical director of an entire department.
Some of the stories are actually funny, like this woman who acted as secretary to herself.
A client arriving at my office for a meeting once instantly demanded a cup of coffee and that I inform myself he was here. I got his coffee, walked him to the conference room, walked outside for a cigarette, then went back in and introduced myself.— Stacy Pippi Hammon (@Pippsta) January 31, 2018
Namaste. 😂 This is something I have also done. I am a former political journalist.— Magdelene (@OliviaMagdelene) January 31, 2018
Recently had a regulator mansplain a “violation” to me. Called him back with a coworker. He starts on her: “listen, like I told the other girl you need an engineer to look this over”. Her: “She heard you. I’m the engineer.” PS - I was right all along.— Stacy Pippi Hammon (@Pippsta) January 31, 2018
There is no shame in being a secretary, but there is definitely shame in assuming what someone's job is based on their gender. Because you'll just play yourself.
Hubby and I were military and once we went to a mtng wearing civilian clothes. The organizer walked to hubby w/an extended hand assuming hubby was highest ranking one: “Colonel Baer how are you?”— Running in Bloom (@RunningInBloom) January 31, 2018
Hubby: “I don’t know how Colonel Baer is doing, why don’t you try asking her.”