Bubble Girl Meets Reality Check: Yes Virginia, Some Dorks DO (Still) Harass Women!

6 years ago

I have just realized that I live in a bubble.

I am now in my 5th Fortune 500 Company, actually 6th if you count that I worked in the London and US entities for Citigroup...and today I read two blog posts that have me shaking my head.

First this one: Cigna  where the woman doesn't get the promotion because she's "aggressive". Now I learned in London that Insurance is very conservative and slow to evolve, but please. Boys! Really! And then this one... Donut where the American chap who should have known better made allusions about a woman, her breakfast and some very blue imagery...in the company elevator. The management told her to stop taking the elevator.

Are we really still doing this? Really?

I experienced a little of the Cigna one at my previous shop - my manager was a former Navy guy with the sailor mouth to match (wonderful, wonderful manager) who encouraged me to be more open with my views and recommendations during our strategy meetings. I laughed and said women can't get away with that here (the company is VERY conservative).

But to placate him, I agreed to try it, and I aped his meeting manners and tactics our next session. He hauled me out and fussed at me for being such a "b*tch" fill in the asterisk. Oh really, I said, I was doing what you said and in fact imitating YOUR style there bossikins. He's not a sexist pig, in any sense. I think he's actually quite terrified of his wife. But he agreed...no, women can't do that. Point made.

Truth is - I don't like to communicate that way and in fact, if he had observed another male manager using his tactics, I don't think he would have liked it. I'm not sure that was a gender thing. But to succeed in that role - and I did get promoted to the leadership team after only a year - I was a very polite, friendly, class act whether I felt like dropping F-bombs or not.

I've never had anyone doing the donut thing, even in Europe...in the office. Outside of the office, I have no right to complain frankly and that is absolutely the culture I experienced. But in the office - no way. I hope it costs Bayer so much money that they train (and fire) their chaps into better behavior.

Maybe it's a bubble simply because of the companies I've chosen, and where.

One company based out of Trumbull, CT (I won't mention names but you are probably using a shampoo or soap or personal toiletry product of theirs whether you know it or not) tolerated a manager who had his female directs address him as "Mr. Studpuppy". That's fine for call girls. Not so good in IT management.

But I admit it, I'm shocked. I absolutely felt the unwritten code about professionalism and I know the standards - and the judgments - are harsher for women, but okay fine. I'll adapt and fight those battles by succeeding.

But I do not expect - and would be floored - if either of the other two things happened. So I must be in a bubble if the rest of the corporate universe - outside NYC, outside financial services - outside this planet?? - experiences this kind of crap. My sisters outside the bubble, I have new sympathy.

Let me know where you are and I'll bring my tiara/taser combo and let's get those dorks!  


Jennifer Z.


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