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Feminism: Sex & gender discussions

Looks in the workplace

7 replies

ZuluinJozi · 07/03/2014 15:27

I need help, so can you be kind and help me articulate this.

My sister has just called me in tears after she was told by another female colleague that 'it helps that she is beautiful, it gets things done'.

Bit of a back story: she works in a toxic environment and one of her team member responsible for a huge project launching on Monday has gone off sick since Monday and will only be back on Monday. So she (DSis) decided to carry on with the preparations as she has the final responsibility to see the project through. Between Monday and Wednesday was time she spent trying to understand more about the project and since yesterday has made progress with the help of another team and the project is ready to launch. So she says just as she was packing to leave for home, another female manager commented that 'it helps to be beautiful, men jumped to help' and my sister told her she finds it deeply offensive and flies off in the face of hard work she put into this project, and she quickly replied that 'no she was only joking, why do you take it seriously, we always joke in this way'. My sister says she was not even aware that it was mainly men who assisted to ensure that the testing of the project was done, because her focus was on getting the project ready for Monday's training.

I find this sexist and disrespectful. Sexist in that it is only women are accused of using looks to further careers and disrespectful because she fails to see the hard work and hours that she has put in. And no, I do not believe it was a joke nor a compliment on my sister's looks.

I want to advice my sister to lodge a grievance based gender-based discrimination and disrespect, but I do not know how to word it in such a way that it clarifies the offence, disrespect and humiliation she feels regardless of whether the comment was from another female.

I am not a native English speaker, and can you please help articulate this?

OP posts:
WoTmania · 07/03/2014 19:01

I think it's quite dismissive of the work your sister has put in suggesting that really the men did all the real work she just had to manipulate them with her looks.

scallopsrgreat · 07/03/2014 19:59

I think its sexist that the men have created this environment where they are able to choose to help what they consider beautiful women.

The manager could be partly making an observation of the men's behaviour. In which case that is what needs tackling. Although it was a dismissive comment as well, no doubt about that. And I agree with WoTmania about the implications as to who did the work.

Goblinchild · 07/03/2014 20:07

Some women can be incredibly unkind to other women, and dismissive of their abilities and talents. It's nasty, undermining and very common.
It's up to your sister to decide what to do about it, is this jealous woman a peer or a superior?
If it were me, I'd continue to do my job brilliantly and subtly rub her nose in it as often as possible. But it has to be her decision.

LauraBridges · 07/03/2014 20:54

I would do as Goblin suggests and probably not put in a grievance.

It is certainly true that people who look better at work earn more and do better so anyone stating that fact is hardly breaking the law, however we might hate it that looks are an advantage.

Sparklyboots · 07/03/2014 21:05

The woman making the comment was being sexist, it was a form of harassment. Your sister should report it to her line manager or HR; the 'we always joke in this way' line is classic. Your sister should be recognised for the work she does and not the way she looks by all of her colleagues.

ZuluinJozi · 08/03/2014 02:16

Thank you for replies. Just to clarify a few things this is not about looks and people who helped her do not work in the same team and did not have to help, she requested assistance.
The said woman and dsis are both on a senior level.

I doubt a man's efforts would be dismissed as possible because of supernatural powers (deemed looks, luck or charisma).

OP posts:
arsenaltilidie · 08/03/2014 10:16

I think its sexist that the men have created this environment where they are able to choose to help what they consider beautiful women

Seriously!!! Blame it on the men.

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