4 Microaggressions You're Not Paying Attention To

photo credit: Smith House Photography 

photo credit: Smith House Photography 

Overt workplace sexism is easy to spot. Most of the time.

Sexual harassment. Harassing language. Comments about women's bodies, clothing, and the way we speak-- we have a pretty firm grasp on the big NOs. Those are all means for dismissal. 

But sometimes sexism is so engrained/are attitudes we've adopted toward ourselves that we don't even notice it's happening. Company culture often starts at the top and gets reinforced by managers, so it’s not hard to see how a toxic culture could breed an environment of harassment, intimidation, and generally offensive behavior. 

And it's often up to us to make the shift. Even when presented with evidence, men have a hard time accepting that gender bias is real.  

So here are four microaggressions that can slowly chip away at your self-confidence in the workplace. 

Are you being asked to start the call?

Whether you’re the most senior person in the room or the most junior, are the women always being asked to dial in to start the call? Pay attention to who is charged with the dial in. It seems small, perhaps petty even, but making or asking for small shifts like these to be made can actually change company culture. 

Next time. You start the call, Jim. 

You're asked to order lunch. 

Everyone gets hungry, but if you're the only woman on the team (or one of few) and you're constantly being asked to order lunch, or do tasks that are often assigned to assistants, it's time to put an end to it. 

There is nothing wrong with ordering lunch. There is something wrong if you're the one asked to do it ALL the TIME.  

"You should be good at that."

The should that launched a thousand eye rolls. Any time someone suggest that you "should" be good at something based on your gender or race, that's not a compliment. Maybe you are good at it, but it's the intention behind the "compliment." 

Your authority is constantly in question 

Studies have shown that men often question the authority of their female manager, circumventing their authority and asking make boss before proceeding with a task. Derald Sue Wing, a leading scholar of microaggressions and professor of psychology and education at Columbia University, told Forbes, "“This is the type of climate that many women experience every day,” said Sue. “It can be exhausting and tiring, leading to battle fatigue that is invisible to fellow co-workers and, oftentimes, invisible to female employees. Often, they internalize their feelings and feel less worthy and less capable.”