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Dealing with sexism at work(4 Posts)
Name changed as I've talked a bit about my job on my regular name.
I'm a 30-year-old woman, work in construction in a management role. I'm currently leading a large bid with a team of 14, all of them men and from a range of different departments. Two of them are working directly for me, even though they are technically senior to me - I'm the bid lead, so I'm in overall charge. I also decide on actions and deadlines for the rest of the team, but they are not under my direct control.
One of the men from another department is consistently talking and acting as if my two male supports are leading the project and I don't exist. Both me and they always remind him that I'm the decision maker, but he continues to ignore me. When directly told to, he is copying me into his emails, but he still addresses the emails to these men and talks as if they will be making the decisions. There has always been an undercurrent of sexism from him and some of his team members, but this is the first time I've dealt directly with him.
I want to tackle this and I'd love some advice for how to go about it. The company is undergoing a heavy restructure following COVID, and this is not the time to be involving HR. Not only are they incredibly busy, but I think it would get lost in the more urgent things going on.
I don't know how he would respond to a direct 'calling out.' In personality he is arrogant and bullish, and in my experience those types of men either respond to a direct challenge by instantly showing respect or by turning up the aggressive behaviour to 11.
Reminders from me and from my male colleagues aren't working.
I'm tempted to ignore anything he asks for (demands) unless it's addressed to me directly, but it will look petty and I want to keep clean hands incase I do eventually go to HR.
One of my male colleagues knows him quite well and could possibly have a private word, but I'm reluctant to ask a man to sort this out for me, even if I think it would work.
Why can't you speak to him? It doesn't have to be confrontational - "just wanted a quick chat, I've noticed you don't like to come to me about the project even though I'm the PM, just wondered whether there's an issue we need to pick up?"
If he denies it - "ok, so you'll be sending me the emails in future then? Glad that's sorted!"
If he admits it - I would be going to his manager or raising a grievance.
If he avoids it - "can you address your contributions to me in future, rather than creating work for the rest of the team who need to then spend their time bringing it to me?"
Thanks LordEmsworth. I didn't structure my post very well - that's the approach I called 'calling out', though that phrase makes it sound like it would be confrontational from the start. I think even the conversation you describe would either make him instantly stop this nonsense or it would make him 20x worse. If the latter, I would then have to go to HR and now just isn't the time. So I'm trying to think of other ways to deal with it to avoid that.
I may have no choice though, and you're right that this is the obvious reaction.
I think you need to. If you get someone else involved - friend, manager, HR - it sounds like he'll see that as you being weak.
If he does get worse, presumably he will eventually make himself look like such a dick that everyone will know about it. At that point I would probably also start making more direct comments - "I realise that you are unhappy talking to me directly, but as I am PM it really is essential" etc. But I think you should start with a toe dip before jumping to pointing it out...