Subconscious sexism

VMware jahf54
Sep 21 149 Comments

Have been noticing this a lot during meetings and other interactions in office- Men usually look at other men while talking/explaining even if I'm the one who has asked the question. I don't know if this is intentional, maybe not but it's really beginning to bother me. Has anyone else faced similar issues? How did you deal with it?

Edit: Some responses completely miss the point. I'm not talking about "staring". It's just that they subconsciously address the men instead of who has asked the question.

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TOP 149 Comments
  • Oath Atinlay2
    #metoo

    A problem women created.
    Sep 21 42
    • Amazon lollolol
      Also I never said about walk in the park at 7pm? It was walk around the block in broad daylight and office timings; come to Seattle where you get to see only once in a while. We spend more than half of our life at work (8-12 hours of awake time), workplace should not be something where I hate coming because according to someone everything should be formal. No coffee breaks among people or no work talk while on a coffee break as you are not inclusive. There are a thousands of places where work talk can happen between two colleagues which is not their workdesk or a meeting room. Do you want to restrict all work related conversations to these places as everything else will be informal?

      Also, restricting happy hours outside work timings. I believe people are consuming alcohol at happy hours, we can have a group of colleagues meet outside of work and have drinks, what’s wrong with that or should I restrict all my personal interactions and become a work robot for most active time of my life that I spend.
      Sep 22
    • Oath Atinlay2
      @bluffjezoz just wants everyone else to be miserable too.
      Sep 22
    • Neurocrine bluffjezoz
      @lolol I see your point. I assumed a walk in the park is outside work timings, don't know Seattle specific culture, sorry :)

      I think you extrapolated my point. I didn't say meetings should only be confined to desks or meeting rooms. Of course there are plenty of meeting spaces across the office and many of them are open spaces. So long as the meetings are professional, it's fine. I would discourage people meeting outside work hours taking a walk at the park, which is what I assumed. Sorry about that.

      I don't know about happy hours outside work timings. It's a lose-lose situation. I know many people prefer that and many don't. Those who prefer it tend to form better connections with their manager or co-workers and those who don't may be subconsciously penalized. I personally never schedule anything after 5pm unless absolutely necessary, as I consider it as personal time. I also try to limit my judgements around people if they are not super social and I always give reviews based on work, not how much someone interacted with me or the things s/he told me at happy hours.
      Sep 22
    • Neurocrine bluffjezoz
      @Atinlay2 I think we disagree with each other on most aspects. I tend to keep my professional and personal lives pretty segregated and I like it that way. Many people want to make workplace their second home, which is also fine. To each his own I guess. Happy Sunday :)
      Sep 22
    • Oath Atinlay2
      There’s a difference between trying to make it a 2nd home and walking around thinking your co-workers are your enemies.

      Some of my best friends I have met over the years have been at work. People you want to hang out with and look forward to seeing.
      Sep 22
  • I have a strict zero communication policy with women at work. Fortunately there are very few where I work now(except in recruiting) so it’s not a big issue. And I make enough money for the firm that I can basically do whatever I like.
    I do this because at my old job (about 5 years ago) I was forced out by a woman who claimed sexual harassment to her, and she had absolutely no proof, but hr was forced to side with her and paid me to leave. When I left she took my place. It was a very calculated move on her part but in the current climate it’s going to win no matter what.
    Sep 21 4
    • Oath Atinlay2
      ^This
      Sep 21
    • Never judge by one situation and one woman. This is wrong summary you made.
      Sep 21
    • Oath Atinlay2
      Never judge all situations by one man
      Sep 21
    • Amazon lollolol
      This & the one by fatSchlon!
      Sep 22
  • New xBeL85
    A lot of men feel more comfortable talking to other men, there's less sexual tension/opportunity for something to be taken the wrong way. In tech men are probably even less comfortable.

    Not saying this is true 100% of the time because there are definitely sexist assholes out there.
    Sep 21 9
    • So men get punished for you being a woman? That’s even more ridiculous
      Sep 21
    • Cisco testing_
      That’s not what me too is about. It’s about harassment and abuse not gender
      Sep 21
    • Who mentioned me too?
      Sep 21
    • New xBeL85
      I'm sure it can be frustrating as a woman. Just wanted to give an explanation behind why well intentioned people would do that.
      Sep 21
    • New xBeL85
      Regarding me too, we are in a climate where men feel nervous about crossing blurred lines with behavior that could be interpreted as harassment. Because of that men may subconsciously try to avoid women even more in the workplace. Honestly don't know how much of a role it actually plays.
      Sep 21
  • More than that, man are afraid to just talk to me, even to look at me. Right. That's so crazy. I feel sooo weird.
    So, let me know, if anybody found solution to this problem
    Sep 21 6
    • They don't ask me a question. They are trying to avoid and ignore me
      Sep 21
    • Microsoft QrXg61
      Doesn’t matter. When it’s your chance to ask, you ask or ignore? Somebody needs to break the ice.
      Sep 21
    • New opklnm
      Lol. Sorry Cepheid: it’s a real thing in all professions - consulting’, law, biomedicine, academia... you name it. Don’t let some idiots invalidate what you’re experiencing. Find a woman mentor, address, strategize growth.

      Others:
      Just because you’re not experiencing it does not mean you can redirect the problem based on false assumptions.
      Sep 21
    • @opklnm. Thank you for understanding 😉
      Sep 21
    • Intel LEtestar
      I like how all questions about what I work on are always framed as though I couldn’t possibly have ownership/decision making power over it.
      Sep 24
  • Walmart QTFP86
    Dear OP,
    Every time you bring this prejudice, you are alienating innocent men from acting natural without any ill will toward their female colleagues. This helps no one. Believe me, it is tough for straight noble gentlemen as well in today’s complicated world of what-if-she-sue world. If they look at you then it will be either picking on or staring...
    Sep 21 11
    • Neurocrine bluffjezoz
      This is why I mentioned looking at everyone to make them feel involved :)

      I don't think OP was desperate to find a pattern, I think she found a pattern and others agreed to it. Again, not having thought about something doesn't deny it's existence.

      In another comment, someone was referring to cases of female harassing men. For a long time, the world did not think about it as harassment but we do now. That's how we progress :)

      I appreciate you encouraging people to speak up and trust you. What you shouldn't be afraid of is people becoming more aware and demanding an inclusive environment.
      Sep 21
    • Google saturdays
      Well said @bluffjezoz

      I’m thinking that anytime a gender post comes up, there needs to be a disclaimer to soothe men and women who think that the OP is generalizing against all men. I’m thinking about takeaways from reading comments like @QTFP’s. There’s been a lot of comments that seem to want to discredit OP or discourage stories about patterns. I’m trying to understand where these perspectives are coming from and what kind of disclaimer is needed so that we can rationally and calmly talk about gender issues, more unity, less defensiveness.
      Sep 21
    • Neurocrine bluffjezoz
      @saturdays I think a lot of men mistook the #metoo movement as something against men when it wasn't. I don't understand why people think something in favor of women has to be something against men (or vice versa). I also wouldn't deny the fact that a few females took advantage of the situation and a few innocent men got into the fire because of that (a classic case of a few bad apples ruin things). However, the movement was largely successful in making the world aware if how common sexual and other forms of harassment are, at workplaces and outside.

      I felt sad to read that @qtfp86 had to put a disclaimer when he used to word 'dear'. It's also sad to see from a few other comments here how men are afraid to interact with women at the workplaces. I think while the movement was to demand inclusivity and equal rights, it made a few men fearful of the harsh consequences. I hope everyone takes this movement in good faith and what it was originally meant to be - equal opportunity and inclusivity for all.
      Sep 21
    • Oath Atinlay2
      You answered your own questions. Also many women mistook #metoo as a chance to burn down some men.
      Sep 21
    • Neurocrine bluffjezoz
      @Atinlay2 I never denied that :) However, that should not stop anyone from raising concerns or people to stop working towards inclusive environments. The movement helped trigger something that had been ignored for a long time and made people aware of how rampant sexual harassment was, especially by men towards women.

      Shame on those men who have dominated and harassed women. Also shame on those women who turned a great movement towards personal gains.
      Sep 21
  • Amazon lollolol
    Agree it is subconscious bias, male here and I was in a meeting room yesterday with 2 other males and 1 female. I realized 15 min into the meeting that I just kind of ignored the female. Then made additional effort to include her. This was enhanced by the fact that she herself was not speaking up!
    Sep 21 14
    • @Uber why do you think so?
      Sep 21
    • Well in the US (assuming you are working in US) most tech teams are always < 30 % female. So you kind of have to make yourself more assertive and be heard
      Sep 21
    • Yeah, I am trying, but it is hard. Nobody (guys) take me serious and it is frustrating
      Sep 21
    • Oath Atinlay2
      I can’t imagine why! 🙄
      Sep 22
    • GE gydP56
      It would be very interesting to segregate teams based on gender and see how it works for everyone
      Sep 22
  • This comment was deleted by original commenter.

    • Clover Health sinkinship
      The comment below yours is why there's HR training. This behavior is not. HR training is not that vague.
      Sep 22
  • Microsoft Zeddicus
    Perhaps they’re just more comfortable staring at other men?

    It took me a while to get used to looking straight at people when talking to them. I’d constantly avert my gaze or look down. This was particularly a thing with the opposite sex.

    There’s also an element of it just being more comfortable because eye contact with some person who didn’t actually ask the question means less “pressure” to answer properly.

    That aside, if a person’s nature is to look at anybody but the asker... when you ask a question in a room where there are more males than females, basic probability says the person is likely to look at a male.
    Sep 21 4
    • Looks like. But like 80% of them? Doesn't seem weird?
      Sep 21
    • Microsoft Zeddicus
      It’s an actual thing. No matter what certain ideologies today claim, relating with the opposite sex is usually a little different, without conscious effort to mitigate that.

      So it wouldn’t surprise me that many men have that unconscious impulse and not all make conscious effort to suppress it.
      Sep 21
    • Microsoft Zeddicus
      I should add that some people actually consciously avoid looking at women for extended periods as an effort to not come across as creepy.
      Sep 21
    • Yeah, exactly. Avoid! I feel after those so bad, like I doesn't mean anything. Seriously. They try to avoid me, even I am in the team and doing the same job they are!
      Sep 21
  • Microsoft / Eng AWHv50
    These days, I think it’s less sexism and more fear of HR unfortunately.
    Sep 21 0
  • Pinterest
    ʇsǝɹǝʇuıԀ

    Pinterest

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    Google
    ʇsǝɹǝʇuıԀmore
    Female here; FAANG for 13 years, PIN for the last 4. Men literally cannot win. If a man only addresses the women in the room, he would be accused of harassment. If men started their own "Men@" group, the leaders would be fired. It's exhausting to hear constant allegations agaisnt men. And I'm a woman. I fear for those of us who have sons.
    Sep 21 2
    • Oath Atinlay2
      ^This. Well said. Being a man is damn near terrifying at work.
      Sep 21
    • Google saturdays
      “constant allegations against men” > OP’s experience sounds like a pattern that women face. Sure maybe it’s exhausting but there is a lot of room for growth in creating workplace fairness. I feel hopeful that there has been a lot of progress made in the last few years. Yes there may be growing pains and in this process, it is critical that men are also given space to be a part of making a better workplace for all. I don’t think the solution here is to discourage people like OP from bringing up patterns, but rather something that can let everyone feel heard and understood.
      Sep 21
  • Yes!!! Yes!!!! I have the same thing
    Sep 21 0
  • Apple
    ST8Pr1d3

    Apple

    PRE
    BT
    ST8Pr1d3more
    If the man stares at a woman, she might run to HR and claim sexual harassment
    Sep 21 4
    • Might or might not.
      Sep 21
    • Amazon bcif84ju7u
      And who is gonna risk it?
      Sep 21
    • Probably you
      Sep 21
    • Neurocrine bluffjezoz
      Don't stare at anyone, but look at everyone, it makes them feel involved. This is communication 101.

      During my communication classes, someone told me to create a pattern in my mind. Look at person A's forehead, then person C, then D, then G, then B, whatever. Create a pattern in the room and follow it if you want to break this habit of staring at one person. Also, if you have fear of looking into people's eyes, look at their forehead. They don't get to know if you are looking in their eyes or forehead, it helps relieve anxiety yet makes everyone involved.
      Sep 21
  • Neurocrine bluffjezoz
    I don't think it's an outcome of the movement. I guess men seem to think they contribute more to the workplace than women. In a lot of teams, women are still treated as secondary contributors. It IS a subconscious sexism.
    Sep 21 1
    • Facebook bOHM82
      Maybe to a very small extent. This kind of thing has been going on for a long time.
      Sep 21
  • Cisco testing_
    This is the backlash of me too. Women are now being punished for the movement.
    Sep 21 0
  • VMware jahf54
    OP
    This conversation has drifted very quickly to harassment and other BS. People don't understand the difference between staring and including everyone in the room in the conversation. If you're a creep, you will creep the other person out. You just have to be normal. This is not a sexual harassment issue, this is about bias. People on blind have this compulsive need to make every issue to do with women about metoo and harassment. Like someone already mentioned, this is also about communication. You look at everyone in the room and especially the person who asked you the question.
    Sep 21 1
    • New / Other
      TDBT76

      New Other

      BIO
      Mid-Career Cybersecurity/InfoSec Lead with CS Masters looking to move to management
      TDBT76more
      Well, I’ve been on blind for like 3 days so I don’t know that it has anything to with the platform, but I stand by my post - it’s an active part of my concerns throughout a work week. I know it’s easy to feel on the outside - I’m just challenging your premise that it’s only a sexism issue - just suggesting there may be other drivers for the same behavior.

      However, based on your original post, I’m certainly going to pay more attention to myself and others this coming week, and I will report back what I notice.

      (Side note - I actually just watched a video today on hard wired Bias, it’s fascinating... https://youtu.be/MFzDaBzBlL0)
      Sep 21
  • Walmart QTFP86
    🤦‍♂️
    Sep 21 1
  • Walmart QTFP86
    You said it right OP, people just have to be normal. Don’t think so much or something wrong. The allegedly behavior you see is not with an intent to demean, could be a fear or some uneasiness. Uneasiness can come from tons of different reasons, consider few like male is shy or introvert or not socialized enough to the point not feeling comfortable to talk to opposite gender.
    Sep 21 3
    • Neurocrine bluffjezoz
      Good point, didn't think about it.
      Sep 21
    • Clover Health sinkinship
      If a company is hiring people so unsocialized that they can't conduct business with their colleagues with equal respect, that's a fundamental problem that shouldn't be apologized for or scapegoated to the hirees.
      Sep 22
    • Oath Atinlay2
      @sinkingship What if it’s religious reasons? Then what?
      Sep 22
  • New / Eng
    xoogler420

    New Eng

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    xoogler420more
    If it's Subconscious then it's not the guy's fault, so bugger off.
    Sep 22 2
    • Oath Atinlay2
      TLDR on this whole thread: everything is always the guy’s fault
      Sep 22
    • VMware ht Rd b46
      Right, you 2 are the victims.
      Sep 24
  • Apple jsh46asdf
    There’s a lot of different points here that all incrementally contribute to how most people work. There’s one thing though that I’ve seen talked about for over a decade now though with women taking more of a stance at work. There’s a lot of talk, even in subtext of OPs post that working environments are essentially a “boys club” kind of thing. It’s not, nearly everyone working is working purely for themselves and trying to make them selves more successful. Even managers and other ICs who are trying to help others grow are doing it for their own benefit. People will constantly do things to make themselves look better. To do that people find flaws with others to exploit, whether consciously or not, in order to make themselves look better. Sometimes that’s you against everyone, sometimes it’s your team against others. It just depends on the situation.

    To use OPs problem as an example. If I’m trying to make a point during a meeting and convince others that it’s correct, that means I’m not only going to have to tell it but I’m going to need to debate and defend it. If I’m doing that then I’m going to be looking around the room at the people I know who will speak up. If I know someone rarely ever speaks up, I’m not going to be looking at them. It has nothing to do with gender.

    Going off that a little here, I’ve heard here on blind that women often feel like their ideas are often shot down when they suggest them at meetings, even sometimes where those same people take credit for them. That happens to men too just as often. That’s basically the start of the debate I mentioned. Ideas brought up should be scrutinized heavily. I’ve seen it happen (to myself and others) where I bring up an idea and either I don’t have enough data yet to back it up or just hadn’t formalized it well enough. Someone starts to debate it as they should and I just have no good response. They however have more data about it than I do and immediately switch roles where they’re the ones promoting it because if nothing else it was a good discussion to have. Others then start debating it and I sit there without much to say because I didn’t know enough about it. I get no credit for it. That’s perfectly fine with me, as it’s to be expected. We’re not working for each other here, we’re working for ourselves.

    On a slightly related note. I used to manage a team that was 50/50 on the gender split. The team overall worked pretty well. Some of the men didn’t like each other too much but everyone worked pretty well together (other than those men constantly shutting on each other’s ideas). What I did notice though was that the women didn’t speak up nearly as much as the men did during team meetings or reviews. Every once in a while during the meeting I would ask them specifically what they thought about something we were discussing (something I never had to ask the men) because they were the SMEs on the subject and weren’t speaking up. I would constantly tell them in 1:1s that they should speak up more during meetings and ask them why they didn’t. Their answer in some form or another was always that they didn’t feel comfortable speaking up. I’d generally give them some generic response to that but the reality is that to get ahead you need to stop making excuses and speak up to succeed, even if it’s not comfortable to do so.

    Ok I guess that’s enough of a rant, I should really get back to the work I was doing around the house.

    Oh and I’m not specifically saying that the OP or anyone else in this thread falls into any of this. Just my take on what I’ve seen over the course of my career.
    Sep 21 1
    • Google saturdays
      I enjoyed reading this thanks! Helpful
      Sep 21
  • Maybe wear something more form fitting to really get their attention
    Sep 21 0

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