I read an interesting article, in the times recently, on the exceptionally talented Maureen Sherry and how she joined the wolves in Wall Street. She describes what went during on her time on the trading floor, for example the deals sealed at strip clubs, sex tapes on the trading floor, and harassment in the boardroom. One story tells the tale of when it was frosty outside one particular male colleague would walk around the office giving the ladies plasters to cover their nipples with and comment “I don’t need any distractions today”. Another story recalls the time a male colleague offered her a slice of pizza and when she opened the box, she was greeted with condoms. This kind of behaviour is common, in male populated environments, and I can quite understand how upsetting this can be for a women. In my experience, however life is full of people who make judgemental, sexist or provocative comments. Dealing with such remarks, with a smile on your face, will help decrease their power and increase yours!
I remember being in a training session that was aimed at women climbing the career ladder in a law firm. The programme had been running for a week and one lady came in to my session with apprehension and embarrassment. She told me, that the day before, a male college had said to her ‘how was the bra bashing course today’. Here was a lady who was responding and reacting to his comment. Her body language suggested a total lack of confidence; she came in to the room hunched over, quietly as if she wanted to be invisible. She even muttered the remarks under her breath.
These kinds of remarks, and chauvinist, extreme behaviour, reveals a lot about their character. It’s often an opportunity to ‘show off’ or ‘be funny’. In my experience, it’s nothing more. They are not trying to make you cry, not trying to humiliate you. It’s all about how they feed their power. Avoid being the victim and feeding this power. Stand back and watch their show. Give them a bow. Pity them.