When Julia came to me, she was one of the many women I’ve talked to who was working as a nurse in a long-term elder care facility. Her supervisors had explained to her that they were really good at tolerating touching and inappropriate comments from patients, and they could teach her to tolerate it better. Julia was not interested in tolerating sexual harassment, and so she left her job.
Still, when Julia explained to me what happened, she blamed herself – as a nurse, maybe she was supposed to tolerate sexual harassment. Maybe that was just what the job required.
Unfortunately, that type of thinking is common in many professions. In the law, we justify harassment saying that lawyers have a harsh sense of humor and that we’re all jerks. In finance, there is often an attitude that people “just do what they have to” to work their way up. In construction, women have to “prove they can take it.”
When we buy into this thinking, women often leave jobs we are good at, losing money because we think our only other choice is to tolerate the harassment.
In any profession there are justifications for forcing women to tolerate bad behavior for men. The interesting thing about this is the power dynamic it sets up.
It expects women to be tolerant of men, and it expects men to be entitled.
When women buy into that idea, we enforce an environment where women have to prove that we belong in our jobs, but men don’t.
In the United States, it is the employer’s responsibility to create a workplace that is safe from sexual harassment. That doesn’t mean that every time someone is inappropriate an employee has the right to file a lawsuit. But, it does mean that there is not a job where it is legal for part of the job description to be that you tolerate sexual harassment.
Now, what the law says and reality can be completely different. Many jobs do implicitly expect women to tolerate sexual harassment. So, what do we do with that?
We step up and engage. If you are in a job where you feel expected to tolerate sexual harassment, then you are the exact right person to stand up for women and change that job culture.
It just takes one person. That person is you.
But, you don’t have to do it alone.
I can guide you through it, but you are the one who can be a hero to other women.
Imagine a life where you didn't have to tolerate sexual harassment and you could focus on doing work you love. It is totally possible.
P.S. If you are ready to end sexism in your work for yourself and other women, I don't want you to have to wait. Click here to schedule yourself for the earliest strategy session.