I was in the office a little earlier than usual the other morning when I overheard a disturbing conversation. It went a little something like this:

A male co-worker asked some female co-workers about a previous night’s meeting, “How did it go last night?”

“Ugh, awful!” the one female co-worker exclaimed.

“Yeah, it was bad,” the other remarked.

“Can’t you girls just get along?” male co-worker asked.

Inside I groaned. I couldn’t believe he would say such a thing. Unfortunately, I’ve come to expect it from some men, even though it’s not right. However, I thought this guy would know better. But things were about to get worse.

“You don’t even know,” the other female co-worker said. “She wore a blouse cut to HERE and her bra was showing and she looked about 12.”

“Yeah,” the other female said. “And she’s DEFINITELY not. She’s way older than us.”

“You girls,” the male co-worker sighed. “So catty.”

Now I was boiling. Both because the women would stoop to insulting someone on such a frivolous, physical level (actually acting sort of catty) and that the man would comment on it in such a demeaning fashion.

Why do women do this to one another? Do you ever see men talking to another man over a cubicle wall about some guy’s outfit?

“Did you SEE Ted’s pants today?”
“Positively dreadful. I wish he would realize it’s not 1985. Zubas called, they want their pants back.”
“And that hair! Did he even brush it?”
“And he REALLY needs to do something about those roots.”

And would you ever hear a women calling out males as being “full of testosterone ” and “needing to take it out on the football field”–in FRONT of other men?

Maybe you do. I don’t. And when something like this happens, it gets my goat. I wish we, as women, “could all get along,” as the male co-worker said. And I wish men, especially senior-level, example-setting types, wouldn’t rely on such stereotypes–joking or not. Getting equal pay, promotions, and benefits when it comes to the working world is hard enough. It gets even harder when people behave like this.

5 thoughts on “Overheard

  1. I’d comment but there’s nothing left to say except…ditto. Totally ditto.

  2. just4ofus says:

    I see tumbleweeds… tumbleweeds.

  3. Plain Jane says:

    I could not agree more. I switched jobs two years ago. I’m constantly being asked how I can stand working only with men. I hate to admit it sometimes but I love it and the behavior you’re describing is exactly why. Don’t get me wrong I have one guy who’s sexist once in a while but the rest of the guys keep him in line more than anything I could say to him. So sad hope I’m never mean like that.

  4. MollyB, Bloggerin says:

    Thanks for the balanced view. I’m still too hard on myself and on other women. I really =like= working with other women, but for some reason experience more blatant sexism from women than from men. Why do many women still feel they’re only allowed to criticize appearance?

    Last spring, a client’s employee filed a complaint after I insisted she stick to work-relevant facts when she came to me to rat out her (female) boss, who’d been assigned to a project I was responsible for as an external consultant.

    Still wince when I think about how this complaint (essentially catty-fying 3 women) must have looked in a mostly-male industry. And I feel so angry with this very jr. person. I =was= taking her seriously, just didn’t want to hear her whine about her boss’ attire, hair etc.

  5. Anonymous says:

    Did you call them out on it?

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