Friday, 10 June 2016

Minor acts of aggression.

I have ummed and ahhed about whether to write this post, but here 'tis.

I have started a new job. I have been enjoying it, but have been finding it hard to switch off. I will learn. I will try to stay away from the vino and instead leave all the angst on the rubberised floor at my crossfit box, when I unleash the beast. Which I did this morning.

I had gotten to a place in my career where I felt liked, respected and secure. I had assumed that would continue at this current workplace, but that has been shaken in the last week. I have been feeling decidedly insecure.

Some of that is normal, different workplaces have different pecking orders, different people. It takes a bit of feeling about and testing the waters. A colleague who put me up for the job has been super supportive, and most people have been. It's also weird coming back as a senior, when you were junior to many of the people who are now theoretically your equal in the ranks.

There have been a couple of incidents this week, at the new role, which have rattled me a bit, and I will share with you.
I was just about to deliver a presentation at a meeting, very early on Tuesday morning. I greeted some a couple of my old consultants, male and now very close to retiring. I introduced myself, saying that I was their intern all those years ago.

Old boss #1 looks blank.

Old boss #2 muttered something to him which sounded very much like "oh, you just don't recognise her with her clothes on".

That last comment only sunk in a couple of days after. I gave my presentation like a professional.

A couple of days later, I was at a meeting with a few people whose roles are similar to mine. One of the people there was a person who, in my single days, I had been on a couple of dates with. It went nowhere, amicably.

He started with a long monologue, about how, in this new role, I had to listen much and talk less. We entered some general discussion. I suggested a role for my specialty in assessments. He said that we weren't up to it. I shot him a bit of a filthy look. He said "calm down Cilla" in front of everybody. A couple of minutes later, he said "sorry for insulting you". He then told me how I had to go ahead with some research I was doing, and who I had to involve, et cetera.

Both times, I wondered what I had done, and how I should act differently to make sure I don't feel uncomfortable.

I have come around, somewhat reluctantly, to the fact that I did not deserve to be treated that way. It's not cool.

I wish I could respond, swiftly and professionally, to such instances. Perhaps by asking people if they would like to repeat what they said. However, I would be the one to look out of order, such was the subtlety of the interaction.

I need to not let things get me down, to "chuck it in the fuck-it bucket". However I would like not to be put in the situation where I do feel belittled like this.


  1. you are right, people do have to learn to not be suck fucking dicks. Do you read captain Very helpful

  2. Replies
    1. prefer the suck, much funnier

  3. As someone that worked in the building industry, I used to get a lot of this sort of thing. I was the only female professional. I just used to suck it up. But with hindsight I kind of wished I didn't. It's a tough line to walk between being assertive, not letting yourself get trampled inappropriately, and being a team player. Ultimately it's not you, it's them that have to change.

  4. It's a disgrace that this still happens and that it's now become so 'subtle'. I save up the anger for a darkly sarcastic come back complete with side eye and dangerously calm and measured tone of voice as a come back. The last time I had to use this technique was only a few weeks ago when, after half an hour of discussion, I was told by the other party that they were 'still waiting for the specialist (male) Doctor X said would come to see their relative'.

    SSG xxx

  5. Is there a "right" way to handle this I wonder as it depends on local customs as well - I used to take some of it in good humour but then my alter ego which can be a total bitch would set the records straight. although with some i honestly think they just need to literally die out unfortunately as they can't seem to help themselves.

  6. There's been quite a bit in Oz newspapers about bullying of young health professionals in hospitals, particularly amongst surgeons. Some of it sounds sexist but can also happen to guys as well. Really tough to stomach. Very hard to judge how to deal with it in the medical profession, whether in a hospital or wherever. Probably important to document (dates, names, actual comments etc) it quietly and privately in case you might need to bring it up as a serious complaint at some stage. But these old medicos are likely to stick together and make life hard for you as a young woman if you react strongly against this treatment. Of course if there's real sexual harassment that's very serious.
    Not in the medical field, just the CPS, my first job there was in an area with around 40 older men who'd gone as far as they could and knew they were near the end of the work road - they liked to rag young newcomers, specially women. They kept calling me petal and sweetheart, and lovvie etc - just to see what reaction they'd get. I just pretended I didn't hear this, put my head down and got on with my work with the aim of getting a good reference from my boss, who was fine and knew I didn't belong in this area, so I could get out of there as quickly as possible. It worked. Within three months I was in a brilliant job with more compatible people.
    The only other girl in my original work area used to object every time they treated her like this. After about two weeks the guys stopped doing this to me and were OK - no more petals etc. But they kept ragging the other girl. I tried to talk her into ignoring them but she wouldn't.

    Most of my working life was with men - I learned to grow a tough skin and also eventually to be able to use humour to defuse situations that could have been difficult. Working with men was quite a lot fun on the whole and I became good frinds with many - they often regarded me as kind of family and trusted me. But this takes time, confidence and perseverance.
    Good luck with however you decide to handle it! Pammie

  7. Sounds like good old sexism to me, and I'm sorry. It sounds like you handled it pretty professionally (as opposed to the other parties). I still have to work on containing my anger when something like this happens. Ideally there would be something that can be said that makes the other person realise that they are being a sexist clown.

  8. This made me so angry when I read this. I could feel the sting of those comments. And also the frustration of not knowing how to deal with this shit. Their defence is to accuse you of 'over-reacting' or be 'too sensitive'. Bloody hell. I have no advice or suggestions for you, just wishing you strength - and hopefully find some opportunity to pull these guys into line. I think the old dinosaurs are a lost cause, but the former-date definitely needs a kick in the shins.

  9. A bit of humour. Like "that's so cute, I didn't realise people still did sexism." Or even, "are you sure that's what you meant to say?"