There’s no such thing as the ‘perfect’ workplace, but that’s no reason not to try and make it one. No matter how you swing things, the bosses and managers are at the core of each and every organization. And every little thing that they do affects everyone else, like ripples in a corporate pond.
So when your boss is an energetic, supportive, empowering leader, everything will go swimmingly. However, far from everyone is lucky to have one of these, as some women have been sharing on Reddit.
Prompted by user BayAreaDreamer on the r/AskWomen subreddit, they have been opening up about the most insulting things their bosses have said to them and… it’s horrible. There’s no other way to put it—there’s no place for such language and such views in modern society. Have a read for yourselves, dear Pandas.
I’m a firefighter. I’m also a woman. A few years ago I had one of my officers tell me “you should really consider a different career... women’s bodies are just not designed to withstand this job.”
He ended up having to retire early last year due to a shoulder injury.
My old boss told me multiple times that I'm lucky he's married, because he wouldn't be able to control himself if he wasn't.
He would also tell me that I would make an amazing personal assistant/Secretary (I'm a systems analyst) for my looks alone. When I told him this was innapropriate he'd ask why I'm being hormonal.
I was on the verge of filing a sexual harassment complaint when he quit.
My girlfriend had a miscarriage last year at 6 months, she stayed at home after that for two weeks because she wasn't feeling good. When she came back her boss told her to man up a little, that it isn't a reason to stay at home...
The author of the thread, redditor BayAreaDreamer, told Bored Panda that the #MeToo movement did "a good job of bringing to light the various experiences women have far too often with sexual harassment and sexual violence."
"The sexism that's alive in workplaces and which the redditor has experienced is what drove them to ask other women to share their own stories. "I think this issue is a crosscutting one with issues of sexual violence also, since economic success and independence (or lack thereof) plays a big role in whether women are able to win respect publicly or leave domestic abusers privately," the redditor said.
“You need to stop referring to your wife. It’s making people uncomfortable.” This was in response to after asking how my weekend was and I said “my wife and I went to visit family in Minnesota.”
I was sitting at a table in the dining area and all but one person at that table were women. It's the first time I'd ever had the opportunity to sit at a table full of women and I was very excited to not be a token for once.
Boss walked by, shaking his head, "bunch of clucking hens"
Every single day for years I'd said nothing about being the only woman or being in a very small minority. Eating all my meals every day with all men, the lounge was full of men, everywhere you went it was groups of men.
Then women had the audacity to sit in close proximity and without even knowing what we were discussing, we were immediately written off?
Screw that guy.
I used to work as a barista and my boss literally said to me, "no wonder you get more tips, you've got the body for it" and then looked at my boobs. I felt really gross the rest of the day. It made me super self-conscious about the t-shirts I wear.
BayAreaDreamer said that speaking to HR is an option, however, this requires that there's actually a clear case of illegal behavior taking place. "[This] isn't always the case when it comes to subtler versions of sexism. Additionally, I have worked at organizations that don't have HR, and where I had an Executive Director basically accuse me of lying when I told him that a Senior employee was not only yelling at female employees and behaving in a generally aggressive and hostile manner but also had said that he came into the organization with the goal to take over from that same Executive Director (it was not a lie)."
They added: "In general, I think creating workplaces that are more welcoming of gender diversity is going to require creating organizations where there is close to gender parity in hiring at every level (not just lower-level staff, which is what often happens)."
I had dental work done when I was pregnant. I came to work with a numb and drooling mouth. My boss pulled me aside and whispered to me "isn't a shame how semen rots your teeth?" I was a 29/f at the time, he was a male in his 60s. So glad to no longer be working for this idiot.
When he was letting people go home early, my boss comes up to me and said “You’ve been a good girl. You can go.”
I was a grown ass woman in my thirties.
I once had the boss of my boss tell me, in front of most of my colleagues, to bring a cup of water to the partners into his office, because "the hottest woman of the office is out, and you're second on that list".
The water fountain was literally on his way from his office to my desk. Also, I am an IT specialist, and the entire firm was reliant on the job I (and the few other IT consultants of the firm) was doing. "Hottest woman" was the secretary, who was sleeping with a higher up, barely worked an hour or two a day, and made more than I did.
Bored Panda also wanted to get the redditor's opinion about what makes for a good boss or manager. In their opinion, accountability is a vital part of this. "In general, I think there is a tendency for many people (men and even sometimes women) to point at a man in a position of relative power who has behaved badly and say, 'We shouldn't punish him because that would risk destroying his career, and he adds value to the organization (or movement, in case of politicians).' However, I don't think enough people ask, 'What of value could these women have contributed if they weren't pushed out by hostile/inappropriate men? How can we justify the tremendous potential value that is being lost there?'
My boss at the comic book store knew I was anorexic and in recovery, which is why I ate little snacks constantly. He told me there was an alternate universe version of me who never ate but was enormously fat because of all my snacking and she didn't know why she kept getting bigger, that by eating I was torturing her.
I asked for a raise, and my boss told me I didn't need one because my boyfriend made enough for the two of us.
Job 1: After asking for help for 3 months, working 60-80 hour weeks. “I don’t care if you have to stay up all night to do your job. Get it done”
Job 2: women aren’t allowed on the company trip because there’s alcohol involved and we want to keep them safe.
Also Job 2: A manager comes to my office yelling at me cause I looked at him wrong and questioned his response to something. I’m not letting someone talk to me that way, he wouldn’t leave when asked, so I raised my voice and responded to his comments. I’m the one who got in trouble for yelling at a man. They also made him my manager after that.
I wasn’t there very long after these incidents.
They continued: "I'd like to see more people focusing on that latter set of questions, and striving to design workplaces where everyone can realize their full potential. Also, I learned about a cool technology tool some workplaces were experimenting with where people could report workplace sexual harassers anonymously online, and if two or more people both experienced issues with the same person, they'd automatically be notified and given the other's contact info so they could decide what steps to take next."
A system like that could have the power to change things for the better in the fight against workplace discrimination. "Often people in power who abuse their power deliberately do it in a way such that the person being targeted feels isolated and isn't sure if they're somehow responsible or not—so technology that can help employees identify patterns of problematic behavior makes sense to me."
"If I'd known you had tattoos, I probably wouldn't have hired you"
Had a female supervisor tell me that dressing slutty was distracting to my coworkers and I needed to cover up. I was wearing a plain womens v-neck tshirt, and khaki pants. I also only had one Male coworker, who worked on the opposite side of the building. She was just a salty old bi**h. I reported her for harrassment, she was transferred to another store, and then fired shortly after for the same behavior.
Generally, if your boss or manager is harassing you, the first thing you should do is politely but firmly tell them that they’re being rude or that you feel uncomfortable. However, if you’re scared for your job, you should instead talk to your Human Resources department.
Unfortunately, while some HR departments are a true godsend, others are merely an extension of the boss’ influence. Naturally, some employees find that their complaints about legitimate issues fall on deaf ears or that they’re even reprimanded for raising the topic at all. If the insults, harassment, and bullying all persist, it’s time to think about litigation. It’s a last resort, but it shouldn’t be discounted if nothing else works and your life suffers.
At the end of the day, each and every one of us sets our own boundaries for what we’re willing to live with at work. If your bosses are being unresponsive, if the HR is unhelpful, and you find the quality of your work dropping because of the toxic atmosphere, it’s time to consider other options. You’re there to work, not be someone’s verbal and emotional punching bag.
My female coworker and I were prepping before the lunch shift at a restaurant. Male GM walks over and says, "You know, I had a dream about you two last night," pauses, reconsidering something, "No, I probably shouldn't tell you about it," smiles to himself, and walks away. We were so appalled and disgusted we just stood there, too stunned to say anything.
That a project I was managing was being moved to a Male colleague because it was more of a "mans project".
When I was 16 I worked at a fast food place on weekends. One day I was opening up the place and preparing food etc. and my manager (easily late 40s/late 50s) walked in with new staff and was giving them a tour.
As he walked in, I was on my knees trying to fix something and he introduced me as “a typical woman always on her knees”. At the time I was still practically a shy kid and was in complete and utter shock and never said anything to anybody because I didn’t want to cause any trouble or create problems for myself. But after I quit the job I heard that he actually got suspended a couple of times for inappropriate comments to other women. I wish so much that I had the confidence back then to report him!
Here at Bored Panda, we’ve covered workplace topics in great depth: from issues with poor management and (un)helpful HR departments to the gender pay gap, sexism, and how the pandemic has affected women in the workforce.
Australian heart and lung surgeon Dr. Nikki Stamp told Bored Panda in an earlier interview that it’s mostly men who don’t believe in the existence of the gender pay gap. Some of them attribute the difference in wages not to sexism but to women deciding to have children.
“The reason that this is problematic is that it isn’t economic or legal actions that will resolve the gender pay gap but cultural changes. If people don’t even believe something exists, how can we change it?” Dr. Stamp said.
"We're excited to have you here. And not just because you're a beautiful woman." This happened last year. VP of my department. I've since left the company.
My boss accused me of having an affair with another married coworker, then said, 'Or if you haven't yet, you will.'
Reducing the gender pay gap increases women’s workforce participation and reduces the amount of housework they do while their spouses end up doing more chores than they do currently.
“But of course, women have also been shown to do more chores at home than their husbands even when they earn more money. However, these are big cultural changes requiring us to upend long-standing social structures. Recognizing that we experience the world differently depending on our gender would be a good start,” Dr. Stamp said.
'You are great at your job, but you are not pretty enough to think that should get you anywhere.'
In 2004 or 5 a boss asked me if my partner and I had had sex the night before and what were are most frequently chosen sex positions. It was out of nowhere and in front of three other employees.
Other women had problems with him and complained about him to each other. I decided to talk to my line manager about this and all the other female employees denied he had ever said anything that made them uncomfortable or that they disliked it.
I was more disappointed in my coworkers letting me take the fall in truth. Though I understand their need to keep their jobs and not rock the boat.
I had a female manager at a clothing store look at me at 19 and tell me that I was too smart for any boy to actually like me. I needed to dumb myself down or I would be alone forever.
Joke is on her because at 35 she is an ‘aspiring’ Instagram model with almost no followers and I am with an engineer who loves my quick wit. And thankfully I’m not in retail any more.
According to Eddy Ng, the James and Elizabeth Freeman Professor of Management at Bucknell University in Lewisburg, Pennsylvania, women are underrepresented at senior levels in jobs.
“They don’t fit the prototype of what leaders look like. They often lacked the preparation, not in terms of qualifications, but the socialization necessary to ascend to elite levels. Some of these are political skills, some are sponsorships, and some are social capital acquired at the golf courses and locker rooms, and few women partake in these socialization activities,” Professor Ng told Bored Panda in an earlier interview.
“Women make less than men because they are concentrated in lower-paying professions or lower-paying industries, even for female executives and CEOs. Think CEO for a cosmetics company vs. CEO for a manufacturing company,” he said.
Requested paperwork to file a formal sexual harassment complaint against a coworker. Was asked by the restaurant owner who it was about, and when I told him he laughed and waved me off because this other person "was harmless"... Nevermind that he'd started following me to the restroom, out to my car...
Luckily he never actually got his hands on me. I quit. No money is worth my safety. And this creeper was apparently deported lol vindication! I'm sure the boss man is still there though.
When I was working as a bakery manager for a gas station, my shift started at 4:30, so I had time to get breakfast ready. No one else was waiting for me to get there. I clocked in one morning at 4:35, and my boss said, "You know there are plenty of jobs you can get lying on your back". I ended up clocking out and going home. I filed a complaint against him but was told it was a he said, she said situation and they couldn't do anything about it.
I was pulled in to his office and asked if I was pregnant. I told him, but I had in fact gained a bit of weight. Thanks for noticing, but I'm not pregnant. He then insisted, telling me it would be hard to find a replacement so I should tell him now. It then got out and I had coworkers teasing me about my food baby. That part I could laugh off, but I'm still insulted even I think back to that exchange with my manager.
The professor said that “taste discrimination—paying women less than men for doing the same job” is something else that we have to take into account. “Women rely on other women for sources of (compensation) information and mentorship. This, in turn, has the unintended effect of receiving inaccurate/discounted information from women mentors who are being paid less themselves, and then forming lower expectations.”
Professor Ng continued: “Inaccurate information, lower expectations, and negotiation styles lead women to negotiate lower salaries at the start of their careers, and this gets magnified as women progress through their careers. Career interruptions (to start a family) also exacerbate the pay gap, and men rarely interrupt their careers to start a family.”
While the pandemic has greatly affected women in the workforce, it’s racialized women who have felt the brunt of the disruptions. According to Professor Ng, they are “often employed in low-skill jobs and in industries that are primed to be automated.” He said: “Think meatpacking, grocery shopping, and other service-based jobs. The pandemic accelerated the automation because of health and safety needs. It also temporarily or permanently eliminated many service and hospitality jobs because of lockdowns.”
Not towards me but he fired a coworker for taking "too many days off" to go to her boyfriend's "birthday." In reality her bf had to get a major operation done and it was only 2 days off - which she told him in advance and those 2 days also made up for her overtime hours.
Another time was when he told me he didn't want to hire a candidate (which I and everyone else thought was a great fit) because she might be a "liability." It was because she told us in the interview that she had to leave her previous job because of constant sexual harassment. That really opened my eyes to how gross of a person he is. I left that job shortly after.
Oh boy I've got some good ones.
Most recently, however, was something that happened not to me, but to a co-worker. Her grandmother passed away after a long illness, and she went to the funeral a few days later. She came back to work for the evening shift the same day as the funeral, and the manager told her (in front of several other staff members) - "This is customer service darling. For gods sake, put a smile on, yeah?"
Back when I was interning for a PR company, one of my male supervisors told me to forward some contracts to a magazine we were working with. I did as I was told, only to be yelled at by my boss for doing it. He then calmed himself down and said ''women can't think rationally anyway, I overreacted''. My supervisor pretended like he had nothing to do with it.
According to the Harvard Business Review, the pandemic, lockdowns, and restrictions have reversed much of the progress toward greater gender equality that was made in recent years. The coronavirus pandemic has made women’s jobs 1.8 times more vulnerable than men’s.
“Women make up 39% of global employment but account for 54% of overall job losses as of May 2020,” points out the Harvard Business Review.
During an interview with HR: “What do you intend to do to prove yourself? You know, since you are a woman”
Same guy, when I was planning a presentation and asked him for about 30 minutes of his teams bi-weekly meeting time: “you’re are good as a man, you could do it in 15!”
That my maternity leave was a vacation, and this was a female boss who's had children.
I can’t decide.. Two days ago my boss told me that he didn’t like my shirt & it made me look pregnant. Yesterday he had a talk with me how I don’t have potential in life due to low motivation.
However, that’s not the only issue, according to Forbes. Women have also been taking on the vast majority of extra chores at home, from taking care of their children to ensuring that their kids’ education doesn’t suffer while distance learning. Now imagine having an unsupportive boss who insults you on top of all of that.
At a medical office where I worked they cut our vacation hours, and then gathered all the lowest-paid employees for a meeting with the owner. He explained how we all had to make sacrifices for the business, for example, his kids see that the neighbors all have pools in their backyards and are like "dad, why don't we have a pool?" and so he understands the sacrifices we're making by having our vacation hours cut (oh, and being asked to take over janitorial duties).
I was 8 months pregnant and I walked into the office and my boss said, “wow! I can’t tell if you’re coming or going.” Meaning I was so round all the way around. I just found it very offensive and insulting.
Another boss screamed at me, “you live in a vacuum!!!!”
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