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To be irritated at the lack of respect I get from male workers in my industry?

(17 Posts)
HappyGoLuckyGirl Wed 28-Oct-15 17:30:09

I'm a mid twenties female working in the construction industry. My job role commands me to administer construction contracts, which include instructing works and verifying costs/variations given to me by the contractor. Basically, I'm the decision maker both in works and finances once a job is on site.

I had a verbal disagreement with a contractor today, over the phone that is. I was attempting to explain my position and he was continuing to talk over me, raising his voice etc. He then said "don't patronise me, I'm 47 years old with two children".

WTF?! It riles me how often I get this response from males in this industry. I've worked hard to get where I am and I'm just doing my job. But they hate the fact that a young woman is essentially telling them what to do.

If my male colleague (who is only 2 years older than me) had spoken to this chap and said exactly the same things I was saying, he wouldn't have said that comment. It's infuriating. Why just because I am a woman, do they think they can speak to me that way?

I apologised in any event and suggested we end the conversation as we were going round in circles and readdress it tomorrow when I'm back at the office.

I had casual sexism from a senior boss at my company the other week! Regarding the exact same work several of my male colleagues were doing.

I hope it gets better with age. I can't do anything about my gender though! angry

Leelu6 Wed 28-Oct-15 17:35:43

YANBU. That would drive me mad.

Part of my job involves working with (mostly male) technical team (and I am not remotely technical) but happily I have never been patronised.

May I ask why you apologised to him? That would encourage him to talk to you like that again.

ilovesooty Wed 28-Oct-15 17:38:22

Why did you apologise to someone who talked over you and raised his voice?

HappyGoLuckyGirl Wed 28-Oct-15 17:43:13

Unfortunately, the company that this guy works for is linked to the organisation I work for, via a mutual sister company.

I apologised because I've always been taught to try and diffuse a situation if it gets a bit heated. There are lots of arguments between contractors and contract administrators. I hope it showed my professionalism but maybe not.

It is absolutely infuriating and something I'm probably going to have to put up with for a while.

I will ring him tomorrow and readdress the issue. As it's still there - he wouldn't listen to me at all. Banging on about how old he is etc. So clearly he means he knows better than me!

BeeRose30 Wed 28-Oct-15 17:51:48

I know exactly how you feel.

I also work in construction, trained in a specific craft, often on site or in workshops where I'm the only woman.

I usually get on great with the guys I work with, but there're invariably the odd few who decide to be daft. Comments vary from silly sexist jokes to basically being asked why I'm doing "a man's job". Maybe these individuals feel threatened to have a woman encroaching on a traditionally male workplace? Occasionally I have to act as supervisor for a team of men, which invariably involves some kind of power struggle. I once had one site manager who refused to discuss anything with me, and would only talk to one of the men on my team.

It used to really frustrate me, but I've realised I've got to stop stressing out about it. I'm quite adept at politely reminding them that this isn't 1850, and once they see the quality of my work they soon realise I'm not there to fanny about! grin It shouldn't be like this, but unfortunately it is. Hopefully, with time, these things will get better. Organisations like Women in Construction are doing good things to get a higher female presence on sites and in site offices.

As long as we enjoy our work, and do a good job, that's all that matters. wine

Leelu6 Wed 28-Oct-15 18:11:21

I can understand why you apologised but I think there are ways to defuse a situation without apologising needlessly, as that will not increase their respect for you.

Could you attend training on Persuasion, Assertiveness etc? There are some good techniques to be learned.

bumbleymummy Wed 28-Oct-15 18:15:23

Are you sure that he wouldn't have reacted the same way if it was a younger man speaking to him as well? It might be an age thing rather than sex. DH can get this from some older men because he got quite high up very quickly and was often the youngest by 10/15 years. Also, is it possible that you were being a little bit patronising?

HappyGoLuckyGirl Wed 28-Oct-15 18:24:03

I don't think I was being patronising, because there was nothing really to be patronising about. I genuinely think it was because I was telling him he was out of order basically and that he shouldn't be delaying works on site. Don't think he would have spoken that way to my male colleague either. The difference in respect is almost tangible.

Think I definitely need a wine after today!

HappyGoLuckyGirl Wed 28-Oct-15 18:25:58

And when I say I apologised my words were along the lines of 'I apologise if you feel I have patronised you, that was not my intention' then got back to the issue at hand.

Reckon he just saw his arse because he didn't like what I was saying.

HappyGoLuckyGirl Wed 28-Oct-15 18:28:29

And thank you BeeRose good to know I don't have a chip on my shoulder and other women have experienced it too, although I wish they hadn't. flowers

Bing0wings Wed 28-Oct-15 18:35:18

yAnbu I work in a male dominated industry. My 20s were difficult and full of sexism. As I have got older its got easier. No longer viewed as the young eye candy. I'm more like a matron now and old enough to be their Mums!

ilovesooty Wed 28-Oct-15 18:43:45

Thanks for the clarification. That does indeed sound like diffusing rather than apologising.

LeafyLafae Wed 28-Oct-15 18:49:21

I'm in construction too, you'll always get idiots who will happily tell you how long they've been 'in the construction game'.
Another way to diffuse it would be to say how you recognise he has a vast wealth of experience in doing his job, but just as you can't be expected to do his job, he's not to be expected to do yours too, which is why you're trying to help him out, not cause problems.
If they're still taking the hard line with you, then unfortunately you've got to be a bit hard back to them. Perhaps next time, say "that's fine, but at the end of the day, its still me who processes the paperwork to make sure you get paid or not", or ask him how he would advise his children/wife if someone had spoken to one of them so rudely?
Yanbu, but you've not to take it personally as it may sometimes seem.

RaisingSteam Wed 28-Oct-15 22:32:00

I've worked in construction all my life (ahem) I'm the one in her 40s with two kids now. I have to say I haven't really had a lot of issues being patronised where I work - but there is definitely a lot of it about. Is it the culture in your company if your senior boss is at it too? Are there any senior women on the board or in higher management? If so could you raise it with them?

Some men just can't relate to young women professionally at all and behave like idiots, thankfully a minority.

Not all construction companies are like this - maybe you should be looking for a move to somewhere that appreciates you? You definitely don't have to put up with it. If you have 2 or 3 specific examples can you raise a complaint?

Crazypetlady Wed 28-Oct-15 22:40:02

Not in construction, but I was a chef in a very busy kitchen with one other lady the other chefs were male. It was tough being a female in that industry I felt like I had no respect.

Other male chefs have treated me with respect and as an equal though, I think you can get groups of men in some industries with the mindset that it's still a old boys club type of affair.

Scremersford Thu 29-Oct-15 00:01:53

To be honest OP, I'd find a way of giving a subtle warning that sexual discrimination is gross misconduct and likely to land him in a lot of trouble. And what he is saying is indirect sexual discrimination.

I remember once when very new to a job travelling to meetings with a middle aged male employee in car. I had to listen to his tales of sexual exploits with his other woman and hints that he was interested in me. I think I put up with it for about two weeks before taking him aside one day and pointing out, in no uncertain terms, that if he didn't behave professionally towards me at work, he would find himself facing a sexual harassment investigation. He was literally quaking, the sexual stuff stopped and I was able to have a normal professional working relationship with him.

Scotinoz Thu 29-Oct-15 08:07:19

I'm in my late 30's (with 2 children) and have worked in construction for pushing 20 years.

I've worked in three continents now, and to be honest, faced very few incidents.

There are dicks in every industry, and a lot of them will be dicks regardless of whether you're male or female. My husband (also in construction) came home a few nights ago telling me about some patronising guy in a meeting (who was younger).

I wouldn't let it bother me too much, and don't chalk it up as sexist thing.

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