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Professional spaces are not devoid of sexism and misogyny. We spoke to three women about sexist workplace experiences they’d had or witnessed and, these experiences mirror those of many other women.
“I worked at a pharmacy as a cashier and, on that particular day, a second cashier, the head pharmacist, a woman, and I were the ones tending the store. A man comes in, looks around and asks to see a pharmacist. The head pharmacist, the literal boss after the owner, tells him, “you can talk to me”. He says no, he wants to talk to her boss. She thinks he means the owner of the pharmacy (a man) and tells him the owner is not around. He shakes his head and says no, he doesn’t want to see the owner; he wants to see “the other man, your oga”.
She tells him she’s the pharmacist in charge yet, he keeps insisting that he wants to see her boss. A junior pharmacist who was in the backroom heard the commotion and came out. This junior pharmacist had just gotten his license and had just started working with us recently. This customer said “eh ehn, you!” to him. He’d found who he considered worthy enough to attend to him. My boss told him that he wasn’t her boss and that she was the one in charge. He wasn’t having it. He said that was who he intended to speak to, “the man in charge.”
The male pharmacist attended to him and then explained that the person he spoke to earlier was the boss. THEN, he apologised. As if Maria’s boss had not said the same thing to him repeatedly, it took a man telling him for it to stick.
“I was so upset; I wanted to slap him. My boss, a very experienced pharmacist, was ignored and disregarded for a junior pharmacist with little experience simply because she is a woman and some random man thought that made her inadequate.”
“There was this recurring thing at meetings where the women had to be secretaries by default. They wouldn’t say you had to, but they’d happen to coincidentally and conveniently appoint women to do it every time.
Guests would come to the office and they’d have a woman serve them. We had someone whose job it was but, when the person wasn’t around, they found a woman to do it even when there are men present and those men are lower ranking.”
“My former boss once refused to let me drive her because I am a woman. We were going somewhere together with some other coworkers. She said she prefers for men to drive her because they “handle cars better”. My own car. I had to leave without her and my other colleagues.”
In these accounts, we see instances where women’s qualifications are disregarded; women are seen as inadequate, relegated to domestic roles and their abilities are invalidated because of sexism.