I work in a very male-dominated industry. I’m often (usually) the only woman on the project team, and usually the youngest by about ten years.
90% of the time this is totally fine. But just occasionally I come up against some proper everyday sexism. And now I’m going to share it with all of you. Sometimes it makes me laugh, sometimes it makes me rage, and sometimes it does both. Today’s episode is a “made me rage” version.
Many years ago, my boss at the time sent round an email to the whole team saying he had a spare ticket to a black tie do that evening, and did anyone want to go. Myself and a colleague figured that a) there was no harm in being seen out by management, b) we weren’t doing anything and c) there was free booze, so we said yes.
On arriving in the room it was apparent that women were not welcome. The ‘comedian’ booked for the after dinner speech was more Jim Davidson than Eddie Izzard, and the night was topped off by this spectacular interaction between a client and my colleague:
Client: So is that [gestures at me, even though I am TWO FOOT away], Simon’s girlfriend?
Colleague: Err no, this is
Client: [cuts in] Well why is she here then?
Me: About that free booze. . .
My colleague made a valiant effort to introduce me as a useful member of society, but it was clear none of them wanted to know. So I made the most of the free drink, stayed until I could leave without looking like I’d run for the hills, then got a taxi home. Which I charged to the company, because I figured they owed me for not throwing a drink over the client.
I was about 25 when this happened. These days, I call people out on that kind of stuff, as you’ll see in future episodes.