Sling-Backs and Sexual Harassment

African girlIt’s sort of hard to wrap your mind around … they both have taken Corporate America by storm, they both burn the midnight oil, they’re both trying to get another rung higher on the ladder. Why does she often seem so much more frustrated than him? It must be because she can’t handle the grind, right? Come on out of the cave there, big boy, and have a look around. The world has changed, we have fire and everything.

It could be any number of things shortening her fuse, but if it is work putting her in the persistent pissy mood then it might be more complicated than she’s letting on. Even though more and more doors have been opened to women in the workplace over the last several decades, the corporate world isn’t always so enlightened and welcoming, especially in male dominated fields such as tech. Nina Burleigh published a piece for Newsweek addressing this very thing. Women are being marginalized. Although she focuses on Silicon Valley and the Tech and Venture Capitalist world, women in business across the board have similar stories. Excluding for a moment the overt sexual harassment that many women experience, there are countless other surreptitious incidents of disparaging behavior.

When she disagrees with her male counterparts she is called emotional. When she is aggressive and ambitious she is called pushy (or worse … a lot worse). If she dresses conservatively she must be a prude and not willing to take risks. If she dares to show a little skin she can’t be taken seriously because she has obviously slept her way to the top or is only around for the men to ogle. This isn’t every woman’s story, but enough have had to deal with it that you can’t swing a dead cat in the business world without finding a hundred examples.

So, here’s the point. Maybe she is dealing with a shit storm that feels so commonplace in today’s society that it’s just an everyday occurrence. It can be frustrating when your partner comes home cranky but for all those guys out there in this situation, try to put yourself in her sling-backs and see if you can muster the compassion to provide her the support she needs. Let her know that she is not marginalized at home and you value her. Ask her what is happening that has made her so angry and see if there is anything you can do to help her forget her hard day. If she knows she has a safe space she will be more likely to leave the anger at the office where it belongs.

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