Corporate Workers Share Tales of Gender-Based Discrimination In Their Workplaces – Real Life Yarns
In our 21st-century society where the issue of gender equality has gained widespread popularity for both negative and positive reasons, we always find ourselves roped into the “battle of the genders” every 2 market days, with the internet as the ring of fire.
From conferences to classrooms, academic papers, and lengthy posts on various social media platforms, gender-based topics have become a very worthy competitor for MTN’s “Everywhere You Go” Title. However, despite the numerous mild and aggressive sensitisation on gender equality and its “Whats” and “What-Nots”, it may seem as though gender-based violence and discrimination have continued to be on an obstinate increase.
Corporate institutions, the den of the supposedly educated elite, are, unfortunately, not left out of this “trend”, as more corporate workers are beginning to bemoan the gender-based discrimination they have to face in a bid to keep their jobs.
Below, 5 corporate workers share their experiences with gender-based discrimination in the workplace:
The most shocking discrimination I encountered was when I went for an interview at a then-popular marketing agency in Enugu. After the interview, all the female candidates were called to a side and each of them was photographed. When I asked why it was only the pictures of the females that were taken, the so-called manager said that they were giving us priority consideration because we were the selling point of the company. He even added that our “assets” will attract more customers. When I looked at the two other girls, they were fair and shapely as myself. I just hissed, turned, and left. This same company was later involved in a fraud scandal after its CEO disappeared with investors’ money. I really dodged a bullet there.
I once worked at a tech company where the team lead, a woman in her mid-thirties, was very “touchy”. She was constantly rubbing guys’ backs in very inappropriate ways, and passing sexual comments like, “With this your height, you will be really endowed down there,” and “With this your broad chest, you want to tell me that you don’t have a girlfriend.” One day, I mustered up the courage and told her that we were uncomfortable with it because it was considered sexual harassment. Guess what she said! “It can only be sexual harassment when you do it to a woman naa. Guys always like this kind of stuff. You people are just pretending.” Haa, people are mad in Lagos o. I jejely sent in my resignation the next week.
I am very sure every woman can relate to my own experience. My former workplace was a very toxic environment for females. We had a female manager, but, though she was always preaching the “women supporting women” theory, what she applied was the opposite. When the male employees threw tantrums, she sympathised with them because “they were stressed and overworked”, but when it was a female employee in those shoes, she starts reprimanding her and asking her to control her hormones if she was on her period. And when the guys passed sexual remarks on a female she blamed her dress for it. It was like she was collecting her army of male admirers and it really pissed me off. One day, I couldn’t take it anymore. I gave her a piece of my mind, grabbed my bag and left, and never looked back.
The most harrowing experience of gender-based discrimination I faced at my workplace was during a team meeting. We were discussing a new project for a campaign on menstrual health, and I had some innovative ideas to contribute. However, when I tried to share my thoughts, one of my female colleagues interrupted me and dismissed my ideas as irrelevant simply because I was a man. She blatantly stated that men shouldn’t be involved in such creative discussions as it was a “woman’s domain.” I felt humiliated and silenced, as my gender became a barrier to expressing my expertise and creativity.
I vividly remember a shocking incident of gender-based discrimination at my workplace. It was a promotion evaluation process, and I had been working diligently, delivering outstanding results consistently. When the promotion announcement was made, I discovered that a less experienced male colleague with lower performance ratings had been promoted over me. When I inquired about the decision, my manager subtly hinted that they preferred to have a man in that role because it involved supervising a team of both men and women. They believed a male leader would be more “authoritative” and “capable” of handling diverse teams, undermining my abilities based on gender stereotypes. I felt devastated and demoralized, realizing that despite my hard work, gender bias had robbed me of a well-deserved opportunity.
Rosemary Kasiobi Nwadike
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