What are the different types of sexism at work?

While many great strides towards equality have been made over the years, sexism is still a factor in many workplaces. Sexist attitudes and behaviors discourage women and prevent them from meeting their professional goals. It also creates an uncomfortable work environment, which impacts staff as well as employers.

According to Forbes, there are two type of sexism present at work. It is crucial that you are aware of these types so you can identify bad behaviors when you see them. This will allow you to call attention to the issue and ensure equal treatment of all staff.

Benevolent Sexism

Although the term benevolent indicates something positive, this type of sexism still causes damage to women. Many instances of benevolent sexism involve women and their families. For example, a supervisor may pass you over for a promotion because they believe you would rather have more time with your children. While this may be true in some cases, an interest in family life is not exclusive to women. It also assumes traditional gender roles. Perhaps in your household your husband provides childcare while you are the primary breadwinner. Employers are encouraged to have open and honest communication with their workers and make decisions based on merit and experience, not a person’s sex.

Hostile Sexism

Hostile sexism is easier to define and the damage it causes is pretty clear-cut. There are many examples of it at workplaces: asking you to get coffee or lunch, ignoring your input during meetings, excluding you from projects or tasks that are viewed as “unfeminine”. Sexism can also include instances of unwanted touching. Women in the workplace are often subject to unwanted physical contact, including being hugged and kissed. When these issues are brought to light, employers must ensure the offending employee is disciplined and counseled accordingly. Also, women must be encouraged to come forward with instances of sexism without fear of reprisal or reprimand.