Home > Uncategorized > Tired of the Fight

Tired of the Fight

2017 was the year of the “#MeToo” movement: the year when society finally started talking about harassment and assault in the workplace. Diversion, equality, and inclusion have been on the tables of businesses this past year, but has anything really been achieved? For all the talk, minimal action has been taken, and inappropriate behaviour remains tolerated.

In my 25 years in IT, I have not been at one company where I have not experienced sexism, or been subject to inappropriate comments or advances. From being patted on the ass, whistled at, hugged, or told outright that a man was better suited for a task, sexism has been the norm. And it hasn’t just been from male colleagues; in one case a female manager told me to wear a skirt because it was more appropriate. This culture comes from within the company: it wasn’t long before I learned that if you report this type of behaviour, not only does nothing get done, but opportunities will no longer come your way. I began to simply tolerate this behaviour and chalk it up to “the way it is”, which, in my opinion, most women and men do when faced with harassment. As much as companies say they don’t have these problems, they do. Behind the closed door of offices, these actions and comments are still happening, and because we have learned it’s not worth it to report it, the culture then determines it’s okay. It’s a vicious circle.

Companies need to fix the culture within their boardrooms and offices. We all know this needs to be done, but can and will it happen? Complaints must be taken seriously and inappropriate actions must not be tolerated. Those who have been subject to this inappropriate behaviour must be empowered to report it without retribution, and those who behave inappropriately must face consequences. Action needs to be taken in all workplaces, from hotels to restaurants, shopping centres, hospitals, and government, and everything in between.

Over the years, I have done my best over the years to speak out about sexism in the workplace, as well as share what it is really like to be a woman in tech. But I know this battle is impossible to win, and I’m tired. I’m tired of hearing the stories of others, tired of having to recount the behaviours I have encountered, tired of warning others, and tired of trying to fix it. But as tired as I am, I will not stop. In order for women to achieve equality in the workplace, we all need to support them, let them know they are not alone and empower them to have the career they dream of–free of others’ inappropriate behaviour. We cannot stop because we are tired: if we do, we become a part of the problem.

 

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