This month the CTM team are thinking about gender discrimination, after a recent episode was reported at Google. The report on Google can be read here. Here’s what our columnist had to say about gender discrimination.
It isn’t an uncommon thing to run into arguments, debates, and public accounts of gender stereotyping and discrimination. It’s everywhere, in every field and profession, and in every continent of this beautiful place we call earth. Every time a smartphone is powered on or a laptop is cracked open, there’s an article of such things staring the device’s owner in the face. Each one explaining an ‘incident’ or a ‘lawsuit’ in regards to the issue. Recently it’s even reached the powerhouse internet dominating company, Google. Which quite frankly raises an even bigger question, which is: How many of these complaints/actions are truly validated?
It can (and has) been argued that many of the complaints filed across the globe are for the mere purpose of attention, and or an easy paycheck. It can be a man or woman who feels discriminated against, or possibly even on the receiving end of abuse in regards to the minority angle. There’s no question that the issue does actually exist. There’s also no question as to the possible level of its unnecessary ugliness. There’s a reason the subject is mostly addressed as unlawful and completely intolerable. There is also more than one reason it’s against the majority of business policies, and even in some cases illegal depending on your pinpoint of the globe.
The larger percentage of the working class can be marked down as conservative in the work place. They keep grinding, mind their own business, and do their job. They don’t meddle, seek out problems to complain about (whether said problems actually exist or not), and they don’t make the workplace harder to be in for everyone around them. It’s these individuals that are the backbone of the companies they work for, and it’s sad that they don’t get more recognition in the media and public eye. This particular type of employee/employer is commendable as they don’t twist policies into their own words and perception of ideology. They don’t commit/stand for discrimination, yet they don’t actively seek ways to twist something into it either. They don’t “stir the pot.”
Wouldn’t this world be a better place if all employees/employers stood by such outstanding work ethic, and personal integrity? It may sound a bit old fashion, but it could be said that in most cases an old fashion approach is best. Wouldn’t our media be a little more uplifting if more encouragement was placed on positive interactions rather than so much of the conflict?
Now that the ethic of the average and commendable working class person has been address, let’s cover the smaller portion of the working population. Not the ones who find fault in everything and seek out a pending lawsuit for the sake of a headline for settlement. Not the ones who convince everyone else around them that they’ve been wronged in some way, even when they most likely haven’t. Let’s talk about the real offenders of Stereotyping and Gender Discrimination. More importantly let’s talk about the actual victims.
If gender discrimination is an issue, then there is no question that it should be addressed. It’s argued that it should be done within reason and in compliance with the policy put in place by the said company. In other words, do it right. There is no need to start an uproar, or an outrage if it isn’t necessary. It’s argued that more often than not that actually slows production, and lowers moral.
Let me tell you my own experience. There are things I could have handled differently, and there are things I did just right according to popular opinion. I’ll let you be the judge.
I won’t say the name of the company, but I was one of three women working day in and day out with over forty men. I’m not afraid to work side by side with the opposite gender, and I don’t feel like I’ve been held back any because of the fact that I’m a woman. I pave my way. We were rebuilding cooling towers for a local power plant. A part of my job was daily safety inspections. I walked around the jobsite with a checkoff list. Every day I was whistled at, and most of the men spoke obscenities to me in a different language than my own. I’m not a stupid woman, I knew they were completely inappropriate. I was nineteen years young and not exactly shy, yet kept my mouth shut about these regular occurrences… Until one day I didn’t.
After a slew of cat calls aimed in my direction I did the unthinkable. I flipped a middle finger at an entire group of inappropriate, mostly middle aged men. My boss, who happened to see my harassment regularly and turn the other cheek, seen my display of defiance out his office window, and pulled me in for a ‘meeting’. I’ll never forget our conversation. My boss proceeded to tell me that flipping people off was considered sexual harassment. Needless to say, I cut him off immediately.
I informed my boss that I was well aware of exactly what is or is not considered sexual harassment. I also brought to his attention exactly what parts of the company policy I had indeed familiarized myself with, as well as my legal rights to pursue action against not only him but the company as a whole. I had dates of particular meetings he’d attended and personally witnessed my harassment, as well as other discriminating comments and did nothing. I also had the names of a few kind gentleman that had acted as translators for me, and had been encouraging me to take action for some time, so I was willing to bet they’d take my side if need be. I told him that by pulling me in and singling me out, I felt threatened and would not stand for being backed against a wall. Especially after all the times I had kept my mouth shut.
All in all, our little ‘meeting’ landed me with a promotion, a substantial pay raise, and a one week paid vacation, while the rest of the crew spent that time in mandatory workplace conduct meetings. One day in particular dedicated solely to sexual harassment.
This was over ten years ago, and looking back I wouldn’t change a thing.