It bugs the hell out of me that we (males) still have to prop up women (not what it sounds like)

I have a female co-worker in the same line of work who is as well - if not better - educated than me; who is as experienced as I am, though with a different set of experiences; and is extremely competent at her work. We are working together on a project in a phase that has us working together with an expert guy in a related area and he directs most of the discussion so that it’s between me and him.

My co-worker knows this, is aware if it and has even mentioned it to me. So I have to keep saying things (not because she mentioned it btw) in our meetings like “I think Caroline has an interesting point” or “Sorry, what was it that you were saying Caroline?” etc, to keep her in the game.

Not that this should matter but she doesn’t look or act like some bimbo airhead; in fact she’s very serious and, until you get to know her, can seem quite humourless, but she’s bloody smart and capable.

I grew up in the '70s when “women’s lib” became a big thing, went through a career in the military when women transitioned from only being allowed support jobs to being allowed into everything. I’ve known highly regarded female intelligence officers, a female captain of a warship, and on and on, yet here we are in a world where there are no guarantees that a woman, because she’s a woman, will be taken seriously when she should be taken seriously.

Have you ever said to the expert “Why are you talking just to me and not Caroline? Are you mistaken about our roles, or just sexist?”

That’s what I would say (and have said at work when e.g. it’s automatically assumed the lady dev will take the notes/get the coffee)

Have you spoken to Caroline about this? It sucks that you feel that it’s necessary, but it would suck more for Caroline if it’s NOT necessary and she can take care of herself–paternalism is a form of sexism too!

This. Millions of competent women will thank you.

While Carolyn can say this to him, herself, too often jerks like this will spin it as “ohh, you’re so sensitive… just like a woman!” :mad:

  1. Good for you for supporting your co-worker.
  2. Can she take the lead in answering, even when questions are directed towards you? Can she set the agenda for the meeting and lead it? In other words, are there ways that she could enforce her equality in the setting, so that you don’t have to do quite as much?

Don’t be a part of the Patriarchy.

My wife is very intellegent, more extroverted and socially aware than me, and better at planning things and handling money. It was different buying our first house south of the Mason-Dixon Line. At the closing someone would ask a question looking at me and my wife answered most of them.

We also went on vacation recently and they actually looked suprised that the room was under her (obviously feminine) name. What? She booked the room, not me. Is that a problem?

This happened once when my husband and I were buying a property together soon after we got married. The realtor would completely ignore me, and address all his questions to my husband. For more than one reason I was in charge of the whole project and my husband kept trying to hint to the guy that he needed to check with me as his only role was to co-sign the check.

We ended up dropping him very soon.

I used to have a boss that was obviously very sexist. I could come in late, leave early, or ask for tomorrow off (when the official policy is you’re supposed to give a weeks notice for planed time off) with no problem.

However, if any of the women folk tried any of the shit, they would get scolded.

It is very honorable of you velomont to make those efforts to keep your co worker included. Kudos!

Working in a male dominated (STEM) field I can certainly attest that without speaking up and being assertive, and demonstrating some knowledge, women tend to be regarded as unimportant, unskilled, and inexperienced. It happens outside of the workplace, too - it happens everywhere - when I was shopping for a drum kit with my (male) bandmate, and I asked the salesman questions, he directed his answers at my bandmate. Yet I was the one with the $. Two very different areas of expertise, entertainment and STEM, yet the gender biases are exactly the same. :frowning:

She and I have a very good work relationship and are very honest with each other. As I mentioned (no snark intended here btw) she mentioned it to me herself. I am trying to keep his attention in her direction.

I don’t think that he is overtly sexist; in fact he may not even be aware that he is doing this. Also, I worked with him on two other projects while this is Caroline’s first time working with him, so it could also be a combination of things.

I have a very good working relationship with the guy as well so I might actually point it out to him. He’s not an asshole and would probably give me a “holy crap, I’m actually doing that?” kind of response.


This happens to me all the time when dealing with contractors. My wife owns the house, not me (it was hers before we married), and she comes from a family with lots of engineer types, so she knows much more about construction issues than I ever will. I’ve never worked a day in construction in my life, and I have a hard time using tools without hurting myself.

Nonetheless, any time we call in a contractor for a house repair, they pretty much ignore her and talk exclusively to me. Even when she answers their questions or presents more of her own, they fail to get the hint and direct the conversation to me. She stays close while I try not to drool on my shoes.

That’s where I’d put my money. A lot of guys simply don’t realize that they’re ignoring or talking over a woman.

You might try going to one of those meetings and just not saying anything after the initial greetings. Caroline says something, you look alert and interested, the guy responds to you, you continue looking alert and interested, Caroline replies to him, he replies to you, etc.

At some point it’s bound to dawn on him that Caroline’s doing all the work and he’s ignoring her. I think it’s bound to, anyway.

I have a good friend that would be shocked, seriously and honestly, to know he does this. He is a Feminist (capital F) and a protector of the disenfranchised. And he is the biggest interrupter or women and as dismissive of women’s opinions as anyone I’ve ever met.

Unfortunately, you can’t tell him that, because he’s dismissive of women’s opinions. So every so often, one of the guys will try, once again, to point it out.

I love him as a friend, but patronizing bastard comes to mind from time to time and I give my husband “the look” and go home with a headache.

At some point you would think this would dawn on him - but its been thirty years.

Try filming him? Some people are better at seeing their behavior from the outside, so to speak.

But yeah, a contributory problem to this situation is the fact that most guys who do this get unconsciously angry and threatened if a woman doesn’t verbally defer to them more than a man would in conversation. So just bringing up the issue can already make them irritated.


It sucks when this happens. I’m dealing with a similar situation, only in this case the guy is in a department overseas that is supposed to support my team. He will not respond to me or the other woman in my department.

We ended up having to notify our boss and our boss’s boss. :mad:

I actually love this idea, and it would be hilarious to watch a video of a similar situation. Could be comedy gold!

And when they speak up and are assertive and demonstrate knowledge, they are regarded as B-cubed by the same people.

Remember the scene in Galaxy Quest, where Signourey Weaver’s character repeats all the questions to, and then all the answers from the computer? I’ve been through entire meetings where the reverse happens. Someone asks a man a question, he defers to his co-worker who is a woman, who responds, and the questioner looks to the man for confirmation and directs the follow up to him, and he defers to the woman … entire meetings like this.

And some times, even Interpreter Man doesn’t notice what is happening.

I know a lot about cars, because I was an Army mechanic, so my husband makes me go with him when he takes is car in. I always have to precede the conversation about the car with a couple minutes of meaningless banter about work I have done on cars, vintage cars I have fixed up, and my military experience, to establish my “cred” while my husband watches our son, or the mechanic won’t deal with me. I tell my husband just to let me take the car in by myself, and I’ll call him when I’m done, but he wants to be there for some reason.

Check this out;

Couldn’t make the links work, grrr!
(Link to a book called, “Java Script For Ladies”, by Kimberly Wade)