Yes, we’re going there. And the reason we’re going there is because of 2 things: A.) it’s still not talked about enough. B.) IT CONTINUES TO HAPPEN (why? See A.)

While the #MeToo movement has made the subject of sexual harassment and sexism in the workplace less taboo; it remains almost an off-limits topic in reality. I myself have seen it all too often. A client recently said to me, “you know you’re smarter than you look. The blonde hair is deceiving.” I smiled and replied “you should never judge a book by its cover,” while inside I am screaming “ARE YOU F*#KING KIDDING ME?!!” This comment really grinded my gears and started this ripple effect in my mind. And it started with me; I’m not doing enough to bring this sh*t to light. It’s obviously not talked about enough or the behavior wouldn’t continue to happen. So let’s do this. Let’s talk. 

I wanted a well-rounded opinion of other women’s experiences on sexism and sexual harassment in the workplace. I received feedback from various women in 7 different industries, all of whom will remain anonymous. Before we take the dive, I want to preface that I asked the contributors if they have had any experiences with the following: sexual harassment, assault or sexism in their place of work. Also if they HAVEN’T experienced the above, I wanted to know that as well. My intent is to delineate the daily experiences/interactions that women have in the workplace. These are their stories. 


“I can’t place a finger on sexism in any of the schools I’ve worked in, however, there have been instances of sexual harassment. My first year teaching I had numerous interactions throughout the year with a Vice Principal who would frequently seek me out, comment on my outfits, and come into my classroom (he was not my VP, so him coming for observations was unprecedented, unnecessary and not something that he/other VP’s did to other teachers). One day I had to leave early; I could feel myself coming down with something. He came to my classroom to watch the kids. He came right up to me even though I was sick and kept checking me out and speaking to me in hushed, baby-like tones. It was extremely uncomfortable, especially in front of my class of 7th graders who were also confused and unsure of what was happening. It was extremely difficult for me to leave my kids with him, however my neighbor-teacher was right there helping out.” 


“I really can’t complain too much, compared to my previous positions. We even take a test every 6 months so everyone understands what harassment is and how to report it. But you know what they say, one bad apple ruins the bunch and that bad apple used to be the head of my department. Typical big shot with a smirk plastered on his face all day, every day. I was in a meeting with the rest of the team when he told me, in front of everyone mind you, that I didn’t have what it takes to make it in this business because I am too ‘motherly’. First of all, what the hell does that mean? And shouldn’t I be nice to our CLIENTS? Needless to say, I don’t work with him anymore…”


“I’m fortunate enough to say that I haven’t had many, if any, of those encounters with staff. The patients though can be very inappropriate at times. Recently I was taking care of a patient close to my age and he told me that I was beautiful. It just made me uncomfortable because I felt like I couldn’t fully assess him afterward.”

This is a long-standing argument, that women should “just take a compliment.” I don’t believe that anyone should feel entitled enough to comment on your appearance, attire, etc. The point of doing so is to bring attention to whatever it is that is being commented on. Which I think we can all agree is awkward and Insights feelings of uneasiness and discomfort. NO ONE, and I repeat, NO O-N-E deserves to feel uncomfortable. Not at work, not walking down the street, not waiting in line – nobody should ever feel that way. 


These accounts are from 2 separate contributors. The hospitality industry is known for its fast and loose lifestyle. In my opinion, it is one of the top industries that needs the most reform. For many, their first jobs were in the hospitality industry. It is pertinent to shed light on the inappropriate behavior that can and does occur. 

“As a former manager of a restaurant I’ve had to address A LOT of inappropriate behavior. The guys in the back would find it funny to slap the waitress’s asses. But the real kicker was when I had to address a relationship between one of the cooks who was in his 40’s and a 16-year-old waitress.”

“In high school, I worked at a local pizza shop. I was 14/15 at the time. One of the guys in the back who was very old, probably in his 50’s, asked me if I would take him to prom so he could have sex with me. I reported him.”


These accounts were taken from 3 different contributors all in the sales industry. 

“I was constantly told to dress sexy. I was also told daily that my manager wanted to have sex with me…he was married.”

“I was recruiting for a sales company at one point. I hit a company-wide 10k bonus for interviews booked. My manager said that he would split the bonus with me…I never saw a dime and he put a down payment on a BMW. This is the same manager that would hook up with the new hires”

“People within the company started rumors about me moving up in the company by sleeping with people. Because apparently only men can have a good professional relationship with other men. A woman goes to a lunch meeting and everyone starts to gossip.”

It needs to stop. The “sleeping your way to the top” bull shit needs to stop. Women are fully capable of having a successful professional career that they establish through hard work, education, and dedication. The people that spread these falsehoods (women included) are complicit in normalizing sexism and sexualizing women’s success. 


“The sexual harassment I experienced in retail was disgusting. I’ve had men follow me around the store, ask for my number, and not leave me alone. When I told my manager at the time about the situation she responded with ‘use that to your advantage and get them to buy something.’ Not only did I feel unsafe, but I felt like the company I worked for cared more about their money  then they did my safety. 

…But the worst harassment was actually from my manager…who was a woman. Every day she made a comment about my looks. ‘You don’t look pretty enough today’ or ‘you didn’t put on enough makeup today.’ The best was ‘you have big boobs, show them.’ What. The. Hell.”

This needs to be addressed: women can be just as bad if not WORSE than men. And these “women” are a huge part of the problem. Not only are they advocating for disgusting behavior, they are making it harder to overcome the task at hand: equality in the workplace. Whenever sexual harassment is spoken about (IF it is spoken about), it is usually in reference to a man making advances/inappropriate language towards a woman. The opposite can occur and DOES occur and are addressed more in-depth in the account below.

The Prison System

“I think I’ve always experienced sexual harassment at one point or another at most of my jobs. It could be something as minimal as uncomfortable comments about my appearance. Sometimes it escalated to petty gossip and rumors. As I’ve gotten older, I think my perception of what constitutes sexual harassment has changed. I used to think it would be the office macho men making inappropriate comments around the water cooler or some middle-aged creep asking overly personal questions. I think I was most surprised to learn that a lot of sexual harassment is perpetuated between women in the workplace. I have been subjected to downright hostile work environments because a supervisor ‘just doesn’t like women.’ A few years ago I earned the wrath of an upper-level administrator. She went out of her way to make my life miserable. She would rant about me to our colleagues, often speculating about the multiple sexual partners I had and talking about what a slut I was. It was the most hostile work environment I’ve ever experienced and was deeply traumatizing.” 

These accounts don’t even scratch the surface. We have so much to overcome as a society and while Elon Musk is planning his first trip to Mars, women are still battling to be validated in the workplace. Women were finally given the right to vote in August 1920. Almost 100 years later, so much has changed and yet we have so much more to achieve. We have a duty to speak up. We have a duty to ensure that everyone has a safe and comfortable work environment. We have a duty to support each others’ successes and triumphs. And we have a duty to stand up for each other. We owe this not only to ourselves but to our friends, colleagues, mothers, sisters, and daughters. 

To be continued…

Written by: Kristin DeBias