coworker is being oddly aggressive at a conference, left out of office betting pool, and more

It’s five answers to five questions. Here we go…

1. My coworker is being weirdly aggressive at the conference we’re attending

Over my professional career, I’ve had the opportunity to attend a few conferences but if I went with multiple colleagues from my office, I’ve always been the most junior. Recently, I went to a conference with a colleague where the tone of his behavior struck me as inappropriate and I wasn’t sure exactly how to address it.

While I have seniority, we’re at the same level and in different departments with different managers. The conference is largely more appropriate for those in my department, but with crossover elements in his. Over the course of the first morning, it became apparent that his approach to the conference was much more appropriate to academia/graduate course work than professional networking. His comments and questions to speakers and other attendees came across as very challenging and confrontational. Not rude, but not the right tone for setting.

Going forward, I would appreciate suggestions of quick intervention I could give as a colleague regarding such behavior. We never had the chance to get a meal or drink together, so there wasn’t a more relaxed time to go into detail – but it was bad enough that I just avoided him for the rest of the conference. While to me the difference was a case of “you’re treating this like a graduate seminar as opposed to business networking” – but in terms of how I could accurately suggest modifying behavior, I was stumped in how to phrase that. Was there a quick, tactful aside to redirect such an approach?

Eh, maybe, maybe not. But I’m also not sure you really have standing to do that, unless (a) you have a mentor-type relationship with him, (b) you’re senior to him in the sense of having some standing to give input on his approach (as opposed to just having been there longer than him, which I think is the type of seniority you meant), or (c) you have a fairly close relationship.

If he’s basically a peer, and not one you’re close to, it’s possible that he’d appreciate a heads-up, yes, but it’s also possible that he’ll bristle and somewhat legitimately feel that you don’t have standing to tell him how to interact with other conference attendees. If you’re willing to risk that, then matter-of-fact is the way to go — for example, “hey, you’re questioning people pretty aggressively — I didn’t know if you realized it was coming off kind of adversarially and out of sync with the setting.”

2. Not invited to participate in my office betting pool

I’m the only woman on a team of all men — our team is 12 people total. We’re a young team and we all get along great, but occasionally I do feel like I’m treated differently because I’m a woman. The latest example is that today I overheard the guys talking about how they have a betting pool going for Euro 2016. Apparently they’ve been passing around brackets for each other to fill out, and nearly everyone has already participated. Only two guys aren’t in it yet, and it’s because one is only a hockey fan while the other hates sports in general. All day I had to listen to the rest of the guys trying to convince them to join — they talked around me nonstop but never once asked me if I’d be interested in it.

I actually love sports, including soccer, yet I feel like they don’t take me seriously because I’m a woman. When I first joined the company over a year ago, and they found out that I was was a fan of a certain basketball team, they all started quizzing me relentlessly as if I was a contestant on some game show (unfortunately this has been a common thing whenever men find out I like sports). And considering the fact that a lack of interest in soccer or sports in general didn’t stop them from asking those other guys to join, the only reason I can think of for my exclusion is my gender.

I don’t want it to sound like I’m in some sort of horrible “boys club,” because I really do love my job and my coworkers the other 99% of the time. I just feel kind of annoyed that I’m being left out and I don’t know how to bring it up without sounding petty or turning it into some awkward rant on gender (especially being the only woman, I don’t want gender to become a “thing,” you know?). Any advice? Should I just let it go, or am I right to feel annoyed?

It’s reasonable to feel a little annoyed, yes, but not for too long if you haven’t spoken up and told them you’re interested. Speak up and say, “Hey, I want in.” If they shudder at the idea of a lady in their betting pool, that’s obviously a bigger problem, but that probably isn’t going to happen.

3. Calling out sick when you have cramps

Despite working with different doctors to manage this, I get really horrible period cramps once a month (unmanageable pain, etc. that makes me fairly non-functional). Thankfully, I have medicine that kicks in that makes them manageable after 2-3 hours. How do I call out sick for just a morning or ask to work from home without being TMI? It feels odd to be like, “I’d like to call in sick for the morning, but I can definitely be in in the afternoon.” To me that sounds fake and/or like I’m hungover.

I’d just talk to your manager and explain, either citing cramps specifically or “a medical condition,” depending on which you’re comfortable with.

For example: “I have a medical condition that sometimes puts me out of commission for the first half of a day about once a month. When it happens, my instinct is to call in sick for the morning but come in for the second half the day, which is usually quite manageable. However, I’m totally paranoid about this seeming like a hangover, so I wanted to give you heads-up about what’s actually going on.” (Adjust the wording to fit your style; I like “totally paranoid” because that’s how I talk, but “concerned” or “worried” would do just as well. You could also drop the hangover mention entirely and this would still work, but I like getting worries out in the open and find that most people like the transparency.)

4. What happens to part-timers under the new overtime salary threshold?

I’m currently making $38,000 per year as practice manager for a veterinary clinic. The thing is, I only work four days a week. Would my employer still have to pay me the $47,000+ minimum required by the new overtime laws in order to keep me exempt? Would I have to clock in if my hours are not considered “full-time”? I would much prefer to keep my exempt status.

The new regulation requiring employers to treat you as non-exempt (and thus pay you overtime for all hours over 40 worked in a week) if you earn less than $47,476 does not include any prorating or exception for part-time workers. That means that an awful lot of people who are exempt part-timers now are going to need to be switched to non-exempt when the new regulation goes into effect on December 1.

In your case, if you stay at that salary, you’ll become non-exempt. You won’t need to punch a clock, but you’ll need to keep track of your hours and log any overtime (more than 40 hours in a week). Since you’re part-time, it sounds like you probably won’t have any overtime, so it’ll just be a matter of having some sort of basic logging system, which could be something like a simple spreadsheet.

5. Does a short-notice interview mean they thought I could handle having less time to prepare?

I got an email end of day Wednesday for an interview early Friday morning. During the interview, my interviewers said they appreciated me coming in on short notice and mentioned that they still have other candidates to interview on Monday. This position is fairly junior for me, so I thought maybe I was given less time to prepare because they thought I could handle it? How do interviewers decide who gets the short-notice interview and who gets extra time to prepare?

You’re assuming much more thought and strategy goes into it than it does. Interviewers tend to be scheduled based on who has availability when and nothing more. They’re not thinking in terms of “this one can handle just a few days of notice” (and generally aren’t assuming you’re doing more than an evening of preparation anyway, in most cases). They’re just looking at what works with people’s schedules.

{ 384 comments… read them below }

  1. neverjaunty*

    OP #2, yes, you are in a boys’ club, and yes, you should still take AAM’s advice and speak up, as if it were no big deal and obviously it just slipped their minds not to invite you. You can’t stop them from being fatheads, but you can call them out when they fail to hide it.

    1. Engineer Girl*

      I agree. That little bit with the sports was especially telling. In tech the woman is assumed incompetent until proven otherwise. The grilling was to try to prove you weren’t as much a fan as you claimed.
      Just say “hey, I want in” with the pool. If you treat it as no big deal then they can’t claim you’re being an emotional female.
      I’m so annoyed right now to see the same stupid behavior I had to deal with 35 years ago.

      1. I'm a Little Teapot*

        Uuughhh, the “you’re not a real fan” grilling. (I’m not a sports fan, but I am a fan of some other male-dominated things.) I don’t even understand the motivation behind it (well, besides sexism). Do they somehow think there can be only so many sports fans in the world and you’re a threat to them because of it?

        1. esra*

          What I love about videogame “not a real fan” grilling is I’ve been gaming longer than most of the guys grilling me have been alive. Kids, off my lawn, etc.

          1. Gandalf the Nude*

            I retweet this every single time I see it on Twitter just because it’s so on point:

            BOY: I wish more girls liked video games
            GIRL: I like video games
            BOY: no you don’t. fuck you. what’s the length of Mario’s inseam.

          2. Jadelyn*

            I’m with you – it’s particularly galling when a man 10 years my junior starts trying to stake his “claim” over gaming and push me out as not a ~~true~~ gamer or whatever. Child, I had my first gaming console when you were in diapers. Shush.

            1. Lily Evans*

              I’d be so tempted just to pat him on the head and offer him a juice box in that case.

              1. Jadelyn*

                …okay, new favorite response. I am actually looking forward to the next time one of those happens now.

        2. myswtghst*

          I have a coworker who almost… shows me off, I guess, to business partners, by bragging about how I know more about sports (especially college football / basketball and the NBA) than any of the guys around us (I’m a woman in my early 30s who looks young). I know he means well, but it’s kind of super sexist that he finds it surprising / assumes others will too.

        3. TootsNYC*

          I think anytime this occurs, whether we’re an onlooker or the target, we should switch the topic of the converstion from “how good is your fandom?” to the conversation itself.

          “Wow, why all the questions? Do you think I’m lying? Or is it only acceptable for people to like soccer/video games/football/theater if they meet some sort of weird criteria for how much they know? It’s not OK for people to just sort of like it, or really like it? This sounds really adversarial and accusatory in tone.”

          And then wait.

          Don’t be the one to say, “it’s because I’m a girl”–make THEM be the ones to say, “well, most women don’t…” and then you can let that stupidity hang out there for everyone to see. Or say, “yes, but Charlotte isn’t ‘most women’; she’s THIS woman, she’s Charlotte, standing right here in front of you. That’s not very fair to her, to treat her like ‘most women’ and make her prove to your satisfaction whether she’s a good enough fan. Excuse me, I need to go to the bathroom/get back to work.”

      2. T3k*

        This makes me wonder how old the OP’s team is. I have a lot of male dominated interests (like video games and computers) and can’t recall a time where I was grilled for it. Then again, I tend to hide my gender online and only start talking about games in person if someone brings it up first, but many are happy to talk with me.

        1. JB (not in Houston)*

          From my own experience, there isn’t really one particular age group of men who do this. It’s a mentality that affects some men in all age groups.

          1. TootsNYC*

            And I think it can happen with stuff like, oh, being a fan of Hamilton,, or being a big fan of a band, or men with cooking or sewing.

        2. Anon Moose*

          Yeah, I would say its an in-person thing. Can’t really hide your gender easily at work or at a conference.

        3. LQ*

          I’ve stopped saying I like video games because I get so much grilling on it. People who aren’t fans don’t really get it, and a certain group of fans think that because I’m not their kind of fan I don’t count.

          (In game my wow group gave me Val because it was the prettiest thing ever and we were giving someone else the first pretty blue dragon. So within that super tight group it was great, it was beyond that. Oh you have Val who’d you sleep with. I have the best numbers by double shut your mouth!)

          1. HRChick*

            I never understood why you need to be an “expert” in something to be considered a “fan”.

            I’m a fan of video games. I haven’t studied all the backstories, histories, etc. But, I enjoy playing them and getting them.

            Am I not allowed to say I am a fan unless I can pass some sort of exam?

            1. Tau*

              I find this so frustrating. I play video games, but I’m generally pretty mediocre at them. (My reflexes are shit, I get flustered easily, and my sense of direction in 3D games is hilariously bad.) Which… I’m still having fun, and last I checked, men were allowed to not be the Best Player Ever before being allowed to enjoy games. Why should I have to be able to defeat all comers?

              1. HRChick*

                It’s even worse when you get into geekdom. “Oh yeah? You’re an LOTR fan? Have you studied Gondorian genealogy? Can you speak Elvish? THEN YOU’RE NOT A FAN?”


                1. Anna*

                  I’ve been fortunate enough to not run in to this blatantly, but I know a lot of women who have. Gatekeeping and geekdom…sigh.

                2. Mina*

                  Elves – Meh. I’m Team Dwarf all the way. Possibly because I’m quite short, that doesn’t hurt the ability to relate to them more.

                3. LavaLamp*

                  I was messaged online by a guy saying, and I quote “how do I know you’re a real gamer? You probably only have an Alienware because you have money.”
                  (on a dating site mind you) They always back down when I point out my Xbox Gamerscore is 22240. That one apologized and never talked to me again.

                  I need to go hug my dad, the dudes at my little comic shop and Gamestop. They actually like me as a human and remind me not all people are buttheads.

              2. Jadelyn*

                I’ve spent the last week coming home from work and immediately booting up the PS4 to play Fallout 4. I’ve preordered Mirror’s Edge Catalyst and am super excited for it next week. I use VATS constantly in Fallout because I am not great with aiming in FPS’s; I usually play the first Mirror’s Edge with the combat set to “Easy” because I’m in it for the parkour not the violence and will probably do the same with Catalyst. But then, my fiance almost always plays shooters with the difficulty on “easy” because, as he says, “I don’t want a challenge, I want to blow stuff up.” So if I’m not a ~~true gamer~~ because I am not super skilled at it, is he not a true gamer either? But the kinds of guys who have that attitude would never even question his gamer cred…

            2. Elizabeth West*

              I hate that too. I’m slowly becoming an Avengers/Marvel fan but I’m not reading the comics–I didn’t have easy access to them as a kid, though I did catch one here and there. If I tried to catch up now, I’d have to spend more money than I’d make in three lifetimes on comic books. Just because I arrived at it through the films does not mean I’m less than someone who did read them all.

              One thing that helps is if I ask questions–I’ll say flat out, “I didn’t have good access to the comics as a kid; can you help me with what happens with X and Y?” If you get someone going on their beloved subject, they get all enthusiastic talking about it. Since people love to talk about stuff they are gaga about/ expert at, this makes them feel good. I’ve had uber-nerds become very magnanimous toward me when I do this and even later come to me and say, “Hey I heard this and thought you might want to know.” Plus, I get all this cool info. :)

              It doesn’t always work, but many times it does. If they still sneer and act dickish, I say pleasantly, “All righty then; I’ll ask someone else,” and walk away. I could see this working at work too, I suppose.

              1. Emmy*

                Even if you knew the comics there would still be weird twists. “Does this person die in the comics?” “Welllll….. sort of…. they die … but then we find out that they didn’t really die or it wasn’t really them or…” So as far as I can tell reading backstories, it’s like day-time soaps. Probably best to not say that bit out loud to them.

                1. OhNo*

                  Seriously. It’s hard to say, “Cap died, but it wasn’t really him, it was an evil alien who stole his face. He was actually totally fine the whole time, he was just a prisoner in space. Also, he’s apparently Hydra now.” without sounding like you’re talking about the world’s most nonsensical soap opera plot.

                  If you want a fun time, though, just look up events that happened in other timelines/universes to mess with the jerk fans. There’s nothing that riles them up more than saying, “Actually, that DID happen, it was just in the Earth-1099 timeline.”

                2. TootsNYC*

                  Then there’s the “how old are you” thing.

                  When Smallville came out on TV, I used to go for lunch w/ a couple of people who’d discovered we were all fans, and I’d tell them, “It’s so cool w/ Pete Ross on TV, but in the comic books, in the very beginning, he KNEW Clark was Superboy but he didn’t tell Clark, and he’d be like, ‘Oh, a car crash! Clark, go get a teacher!’ and Clark would think to himself, as he was changing, ‘How fortunate that Pete sent me to get a teacher!’ ”

                  It was fun, to see how they story line was changing on the TV. And they’d read lots of paper comics, but (1) I am much older than they are; and (2) I had access to what were “old comics” at the time, plus I saw several compilations of “old comics.”

                  But it doesn’t make them any less cool for not knowing it.

                  It DOES mean that the conversations aren’t the same. and it’s uncomfortable to sometimes be in the role of the person who knows more and wants to discuss based on that depth.

              2. Temperance*

                I’m a huge comics nerd, so I’m going to plug Marvel Unlimited here. You can read entire arcs etc. and it’s like $75/year. Assuming you might be interested, from one lady to another. ;)

                1. Connie-Lynne*

                  Yes! Also, many of the early/important comics have been collected into bound volumes you can buy.

                  I’ve seen them in at least three libraries!

            3. TootsNYC*

              “Am I not allowed to say I am a fan unless I can pass some sort of exam?”

              Here’s the short phrase we should all say–whether it’s us who’s the target of the grilling, or someone else. And act like it’s a rhetorical question, and leave the conversation immediately.

              Just let that sentence sit out there.

        4. Abby*

          I don’t think it’s limited to age. I play a lot of online video games, and the moment I reveal (or they discover) my gender, the grilling and questions of my competence begins.

          It’s gotten to the point that I feel unusually competitive when playing games with ANYONE because I’ve found that a “girl gamer” needs to be considerably more competent (both in game knowledge and play) than her male counterparts to be taken seriously.

          1. Jay*

            I recommend finding some women-only clans or guilds for the games you plan online; I joined one in Destiny lately and it’s been great!

        5. Aurion*

          Yeah, it’s pretty much luck. I love video games, but my breadth is very narrow, so on a random video game quiz I’d flunk right out. But if the topic turns to like the three games I love, I can quiz them all day, every day.

          Thankfully I’ve really only met people who are delighted I like games, but the grilling type is definitely out there in every age bracket.

    2. Merry and Bright*

      I have had sports sexism over the years. My two favourite sports are tennis and cricket. Nobody much turns a hair about the tennis. But men at work always want to quiz me about how and why I got into cricket – at least the UK ones do. Sigh. Boys’ office sports clubs do exist.

      1. Elle the new Fed*

        The only time I haven’t been grilled by male coworlers about my interest in sports is when I worked in sports. I guess everyone just assumed I was a fan since I was working for a team…

        1. One of the Sarahs*

          I am a full-time freelance in sports media right now, and I still get the grilling! And definitely have a couple of guys who only ever interact with me when they want to tell me how WRONG! I am…

        2. anonymouse*

          One of my close friends works for ESPN and she says she and her other female coworkers get grilled constantly by her some of her male coworkers.

      2. A.K. Climpson*

        Being in the US, the only two sports I haven’t been grilled about are tennis and cricket. Of course, that’s only because most people I’m talking with have no knowledge of cricket at all (and US tennis is dominated by a woman). In fact, if I’m getting particularly annoyed, I’ve sometimes used cricket to divert the quizzing I often get around basketball/baseball/football — somehow, when I mention favorite cricketers, the World T20s, or an upcoming test I’m looking forward to, the conversation seems to die fairly quickly.

        I’ve gotten into a few majority-boys sports circles at work, but by this point I have very well-practiced answers about why I like sports and my teams, which are questions that are so rarely asked to other men in those conversations.

    3. Michelle*

      I say just speak up. I’m an avid college football fan and I think they guys around my office were surprised that I a) like football at all and b) actually know what I’m talking about it. The first few times I spoke up I also got “quizzed” but after that, some of the guys would seek me out on Monday morning to talk about games because I’m much less adversarial than most guys. I love my team but I can take a little ribbing, but I can also dish out a little ribbing without it becoming personal.
      Oh, and Geaux Tigers. :)

      1. INFJ*

        Yes, I also have OPINIONS about football, but am nowhere near as aggressive as the guys. I’m lucky that my fantasy football dominance won a lot of respect and I didn’t have to endure the “quizzing.” However, I have seen it happen to others (usually when a female says she likes baseball) and it makes my blood boil every time. Even if someone doesn’t have a vast knowledge of stats, that doesn’t mean they can’t enjoy the game!

      2. KTB*

        I’m also an avid college football (Go Ducks!!) fan (and a soccer fan, and an NFL fan, and a college basketball fan…) and I also run our office March Madness brackets. I realized that I’ve only ever gotten grilled by total strangers–never from friends or colleagues, which is nice. That said, I will never understand the grilling.

        Which is not to say that I don’t still have clueless colleagues. Just this morning, I was telling a coworker that I got to watch the French Open semis while in the dentist chair. He asked who my favorite tennis player was (Serena Williams), and he said “Of course.” Wait, because I’m a woman, or because she’s the Greatest of All Time? Hmmmm.

  2. Eric*

    #5, as someone who does entry-level hiring, the thought of someone needing a significant amount of time to prepare hasn’t really ever crossed my mind. Yes, I expect you to have some idea of what my company does and about the industry. But I wouldn’t picture that taking more than one hour (two hours tops) to do.

    1. lulu*

      Exactly. “Thank you for coming in on short notice” means “thank you for rearranging your schedule on short notice”, rather than “thank you for coming in with less time to prepare than the others”.

    2. Nye*

      Wow, that’s so different from academia! Took me a couple weeks to prep for my first interview – which required an hour-long research seminar, detailed presentation on my future research plans, and two full days of meetings (with people I spent several days researching). An hour or two of prep sounds amazing!

      1. Bibliovore*

        Academia is a so different for a regular job interview. Good news was that I have three weeks to prepare for this position. And yes- I had everything that Nye did with an edition essay responding to hypothetical management questions.

        Shocker to me after 20 years of “networking” conferences was my first academic conference. I presented my research. The aggressiveness in tone by the audience during the q and a was stunning.

        1. Nunya*

          I work in academia but do not have an academic background. Imagine my surprise when I learned it was perfectly acceptable to interrupt and talk over faculty during committee meetings etc. Many of my non-faculty coworkers are verbally ‘bullied’ into silence by aggressive verbal styles, and it takes a bit of nerve the first few times, but it’s actually kind of fun to ‘joust’ with people and not be written up for rudeness.

          1. Nye*

            I recently gave an invited seminar at a university, and was interrupted *during* my talk. I’ve given seminars before, but this is the first time people hadn’t waited until the Q&A afterwards to ask questions. Challenging questions are par for the course, but being interrupted really threw me off. (I get nervous about presenting and have sort of a “finish at all costs” mentality about it…to the point that I once continued an hour-long seminar after a 5.something earthquake 5 minutes in, even brushing off the poor undergrad who mentioned it since I didn’t believe it could have happened and was so determined to Finish What I’d Started.)

    3. Anon again*

      I would go even further out on a limb and say that that wasn’t really short notice for a local, low-level position. If you are actively looking for work, I assume that you have already thought about the arrangements you might have to make for attending interviews, such as getting off work early, going in late, calling off, childcare, etc. For our industry, one either knows the basics or doesn’t. It isn’t a test that one can cram for. A candidate should already have answers in mind for most of the standard interview questions they may encounter. As far as knowing about our company, our website can be reviewed in a few minutes.

      I am currently dealing with a candidate who is in training for all of the days we are holding interviews. Although I am available as early as 6:00 a.m., he wants me to hold up our interview process by over a week so he can interview. As he is a marginal candidate at best, I plan to wait and see how the earlier candidates do. We may have to proceed without him, since we are already behind on filling the position due to internal conflicts.

      1. Joseph*

        I can understand him not being able to show up at 6:00 AM, depending on exactly what his training schedule and the location of the training is.

        That said, you shouldn’t hold up your entire process for one person and you don’t owe him an interview, especially since you’re going out of your way in offering to meet outside of standard business hours.

        Personally, I’d just continue scheduling interviews with your other candidates as normal and see what happens. If you get a great candidate, you go ahead and fill the position. If nothing happens by the time he’s available, then you interview him.

    4. Not So NewReader*

      I’d throw in, that they may not be looking for something as large and detailed as you might think, OP.

      When our board interviewed we asked about “starting process X”, we did not care about long term X. We just wanted the candidate to talk about starting it.
      The successful candidate spoke about gathering information from various sources and mentioned a few resources for low cost/no cost help. We already know that X is going to require an on-going effort and some things will not work out, in other words X is HUGE. We wanted to see that the candidate was not rattled by the idea of facing HUGE X and had some logical and realistic ideas about how to get the ball rolling.

      For a candidate to not be successful, they would have to avoid the question entirely OR try to tell us what they would be doing in a year or two.
      In our case, the successful candidate was able to put together a very good answer within 48 hours. We were okay with giving the candidate 48 hours because we wanted to talk about what she would do in the first 6 months or so of working. Other candidates wrestled with projecting out 1-2-3 years from now. That is a much longer answer and it was NOT the question we asked. It’s always a good idea to check to make sure you are answering the exact question that is being asked, not the question you THINK is being asked.

  3. Mando Diao*

    OP1: You’re talking about a norm that shouldn’t have to be explained to a working adult. It’s telling that he doesn’t realize he’s alienating people. IMO there’s no point in trying to talk to him about it. This is someone who just doesn’t get it.

    1. LisaLee*

      Yeah…I’d file this one under “not your circus, not your monkeys.” This guy isn’t a direct coworker, there’s no real benefit for the OP to bring it up, and he’s probably not going to change.

        1. LisaLee*

          Legit, though, half these problems could be solved by people realizing it’s not actually their problem.

      1. Sam*

        I LOVE THIS phrase and I’m going to find every opportunity to say it from here on out.

    2. Not So NewReader*

      I like to think never underestimate the power of peer pressure. You’re not the only person frowning at him when he speaks. At some point the dots will connect and he will realize that most people are giving him odd looks when he starts talking. Or he will wonder why no one seems to be interested in connecting with him on his areas of interest and nature will run its course.
      Unless you can get into a longer conversation with him and he point blank asks, “What’s up with these people?” there’s not a lot you will be able to do. I am not in your field, but I have worked with enough people to see that unless someone realizes they have a problem not much will change. It’s very frustrating to watch, I know. You did the best thing possible, you went on with your day. You handled it well.

      1. Mallory Janis Ian*

        I agree. I used to try to give people a heads up about how their actions are perceived (when I’ve heard everyone else complaining about them and mocking them to the point of comments on their behavior becoming a running joke). Even when I haven’t really had the standing to say anything, I’ve occasionally thought it would be kinder and more productive to say something low-key to clue them in, such as, “Have you ever thought that such-and-such behavior can be interpreted as [whatever the perception is] by a lot of people?” They typically say no, and I’ll get a little more specific, as in, “Well, a lot of people really do interpret the behavior that way and are bothered by it”, but they just don’t see themselves that way. They think they have a pretty good bead on how to conduct themselves, even though they’re alienating people. People who are susceptible to picking up others’ social cues typically don’t obliviously annoy everyone around them over an extended period of time, so now I just mind my own business unless I’m asked or if I’m close to the person.

    3. Not Karen*

      Maybe he does realize it and doesn’t care. I’ve known plenty of people who would rather be smart than nice.

      1. Kimberlee, Esq*

        Yeah, I mean, it’s possible the he’s just blithely unaware, there are tons of people like that. But, like, it’s a conference, and he could just think that it’s stupid to waste all that time networking when you could be learning stuff and furthering knowledge. Like, it could just be that what he wants to get out of the conference is different than what most people want to get, which I think would make me feel minorly embarrassed for him but not mortified.

        (Conferences also tend to be kind of silly. Like, if the goal is to network, which it always seems to be, then why bother with the sessions? Why the pretension that you’re there to learn?)

        1. Manders*

          I do learn quite a bit in conferences, but I’m also in a field that can change dramatically within a year or two. I’ve also seen sessions that got a little contentious, but it was more about general problems in the industry (like: a teapot designer expressing frustration with a teapot reviewer’s ideas about what makes the best type of teapot) rather than one attendee showing off or trying to keep the presenter on their toes.

    4. minuteye*

      Normally I’d agree with you, but the letter almost suggests that the coworker may have come from an academic background. If that’s the case, there’s a totally different set of “working adult norms” for some things, including how you discuss things. This may not be the case for all academic disciplines, but in mine at least there’s an expectation that you will try to poke holes in an argument you’re listening to, and the person presenting will respect you more for having found one. It can come across as quite adversarial if you’re not used to it, and some people have trouble ‘turning it off’ in social settings.

      This doesn’t excuse the coworker’s socially inappropriate behaviour, but it might provide an alternative explanation for it than “he’s an oblivious jerk”. The LW is under no obligation to do so, but if they feel inclined to try and help a colleague out, a few casual questions about the coworker’s history/whether they’ve been to a conference before might help them judge if the coworker might be open to feedback.

      Maybe I’m projecting, but as someone who can be a bit oblivious, in the coworker’s situation, I’d be really grateful if someone gently pointed that kind of problem out to me.

      1. Koko*

        The other thing you’re supposed to do in academia is to phrase your question in the form of talking at length about your own research.

        1. FCJ*

          Someday when I’m emeritus and I can do whatever I want, I want to go to sessions and just ask the presenters, “Which of my books have you read?” instead of pretending to ask questions about their presentation.

    5. Clever Name*

      Your coworker is making himself look like an ass, and the way you’ve described your relationship, it sounds like avoiding him was the best way to handle it. I totally understand being concerned about how your company looks, and it’s likely that others are thinking, “wow, this guy is an ass” rather than “Acme is awful”.

      1. Person of Interest*

        Agreed – I would say the OP should focus on his/her own behavior and forming good relationships, building your network etc. and if it comes up in a conversation with someone, “hey do you work with Crazy Joe?” maybe just laugh it off – “oh yeah, he’s not always so intense.” or whatever.

    6. Ad Astra*

      As someone who often alienates people without realizing it, I would almost always prefer someone pull me aside and say something about it to spare me future embarrassment. But, without either a friend or mentor relationship, there’s no good opening for OP to bring this up.

      1. Jenny*

        I have a coworker who feels similarly, and since she looped me in I’ve tried to watch out for her and either discretely flag things for her and also try to set the tone with my more critical colleagues so they can try to be more sensitive from their perspective. I know it only works if you have a colleague you are comfortable with but thought I’d say we’re out here :)

    7. Koko*

      I seriously think I might have been at the conference they’re talking about two weeks ago. There was someone who kept asking really aggressive, adversarial questions in a couple of the sessions I was in. My colleagues and I were all talking about it, like, “Wow, this guy in my session was being REALLY aggressive with the presenter!”

    8. Artemesia*

      I think lots of people don’t pick up on those social cues as quickly as they should. I remember having to get used to the social norms in the south where people smile and act agreeable while being deeply offended by everything you are saying which leads to being knifed in the back when you aren’t there and shunned.

      I think a gentle clue in can be helpful especially couched in the context of ‘this behavior is appropriate in this setting but gets perceived as X in THIS setting.’ On the other hand, the worst hire I ever made managed to undermine us in the larger organization and alienate people all over the organization. I did sit her down and discuss local norms and how they were different than from where she was from — it had no effect.

  4. Former Computer Professional*

    With #1, I wonder if the colleague was new to that conference or new to conferences in general. Sometimes new people don’t try to get a feel for the culture of the conference before jumping in. It sounds as if he might have been a regular attendee at an academic conference, one where trying to find holes in papers and talks was the norm, so he might come off as rude at a more relaxed event.

    In my previous career I was a regular attendee of a conference related to my field, which was more relaxed than other more academic conferences in the field. One year my boss decided to also send a coworker who was very new and had never been to any conferences at all. I spent the first few days introducing him around and inviting him to various social events, and then after he seemed to get the lay of the land, “let go,” as it were, leaving him free to join me or not as he wished. Once he got comfortable he really seemed to enjoy the conference and wound up going again in the future.

    (BTW, I’m not trying to imply that OP had a responsibility to care for her coworker. Nobody has such a responsibility. I just meant that some kind of acclimation can help. My first conference I was struggling on my own and had wished for someone to help me the way I later tried to help my coworker.)

    Side anecdote: When we got back to work, our boss (the “delightful” one I’ve mentioned in the past; the one who, among other things, called me while in the hospital to talk about work), stormed into my office for another round of screaming. When I’d introduced my coworker around I’d jokingly called him “[our place of work]’s FNG,” a term that was popular in the day (it stood for F@*%ing New Guy, meaning the newbie at work). My coworker didn’t seem to mind and I let it go after a bit. Apparently our boss felt this was inappropriate and further proof I was a shi…nola employee.

    I promptly went to apologize to my coworker, telling him I felt awful about being cruel without realizing it. My coworker in turn was horrified; he’d told our boss that as humor when he mentioned that I’d introduced him around, and hadn’t been offended at all. But of course, the boss was trying to get rid of me at the time and this was yet another thing he could put in my file for being a bad employee.

    Sorry to write another novella. This and more on the 11 o’clock news. :)

  5. anon for this*

    #3: Have you discussed being diagnosed for endometriosis with your doctors? Severe cramps is one of the signs. I have pretty severe endometriosis and along with cramps I’ll get muscle spasms, vertigo, diarrhea, nausea, migraines, and shooting pains in my legs and back that make it hurt to even walk. Before I went on my new medication that pretty much got rid of those symptoms, I would take a sick day or ask to work from home. Some days I could get ahead of it so I was okay to work in the morning or was able to work from home, but some months it was so bad I was out of commission for two or three days.

    I did feel guilty about having to take the time off (though, really, you shouldn’t because serious cramps are a legitimate reason to call out sick imo) and my period is so irregular that I never know when it’s going to occur. I told my boss that I had a medical issue that might mean I had to take unexpected sick days or unscheduled work from home days whenever I had a “flare up”. I’ve been lucky that most of my bosses have been cool about it and haven’t pressed for details.

    If you’re unsure of how your boss will react, I’d go with Alison’s advice and keep it generic because some people – both men and women – don’t believe a period is a legit reason to call out of work.

    1. Jeanne*

      I hope OP is seeing a doctor. Your wording of a “flare-up” is good. You could probably also use “stomach thing.” Tell your boss you have a problem you’re seeing your doctor about. Occasionally it’s so bad that you feel you can’t make it in right away in the morning. Would it be possible if the problem gets a little better to come in for a half day rather than using a full sick day? That kind of thing. Your boss may or may not fill in your medical condition as cramps, maybe will assume it’s intestinal. If you have a nosy boss, practice saying how you’re uncomfortable talking about the details.

      It’s awkward that we have to be careful talking about having medical problems with our periods. But the real issue is some bosses or coworkers will be unreasonable no matter what your chronic condition is. Migraines? We all get headaches. Endometriosis? All the other women come to work on period days. Colitis? We’ve all had intestinal issues. It’s best to be vague. Most stuff is TMI for the office anyway.

      1. dragonzflame*

        I wonder if I might word it as ‘every few weeks’ rather than ‘once a month’ – to me that phrasing puts PERIOD in big blinky lights.

        1. alter_ego*

          That’s very true. Before my IUD, I got hormonal migraines that occurred exactly 4 days before my period started, every month, without fail. I forget how I worded it at my job, but despite knowing the exact timing, said something a long the lines of occasional migraines that I may have to call out sick for (if I have an imminent deadline, I can power through and make it work, but if it’s at all an option, I’ll call out sick and make up the hours later in the week). Saying I get a migraine once a month would have felt like too much like shouting THIS IS ABOUT MY PERIOD to my entirely male office.

          1. dr_silverware*

            Haha, I’ve been there. It’s like trying to hide you’re a werewolf.

            Someday Hermione Granger will show up at your door clutching a piece of paper and reveal that she knew all along that you were menstruating.

            1. LBK*

              I was thinking more of Abed from Community, who starts to track the moods of the women in the group and only realizes after he’s done it for a while what he’s actually tracking.

        2. Anon Moose*

          I would say IF your boss is a woman. Some (not all) guys would not register that.

          1. Annie Moose*

            I had to laugh a couple months ago–cramps just hit me hard at work, to the point I really couldn’t function, so I left abruptly partway through the afternoon. I worded it kind of vaguely, so my (male) manager concluded I’d eaten something at lunch that disagreed with me. My (female) team leader, on the other hand, knew exactly what I meant!

        3. Stardust*

          I was thinking the same thing! “Occasionally” or something like that might be more vague but also accurate.

      2. anon for this*

        Flare up has always worked for me because in my case, it’s not always once a month. Sometimes I’d get my period & the endo symptoms three weeks after the last round. Sometimes it would be two months. So it was easier to just be vague because as dragonzflame says, saying once a month indicates period and way too many people pull the “all women have them and still function” line (and it’s crazy to me how many women still don’t know or understand how endometriosis differs from a normal period).

      3. kristinyc*

        If we keep not talking about our periods and using other vague words to refer to them, it kind of perpetuates the stigma around them. Periods are a thing that happen to half the population at some point in their lives. We shouldn’t be embarrassed about them – we didn’t do anything wrong! It’s normal for most women of a certain age to have them! Pretending they don’t happen and aren’t an inconvenience isn’t going to help with making these kinds of conversations with male bosses any easier.

        1. BananaPants*

          Fair enough, but it’s up to a woman if she wants to share details of a medical condition. OP is under no obligation to be that open about it unless she chooses to be, and I agree that saying “It’ll happen on a monthly basis” is like screaming, “It’s related to my period.” It’s not necessary to be so precise unless she’s OK with that inference being made. The “occasional flare-up” terminology should suffice otherwise.

        2. Lily Evans*

          At the same time, though, most women are fighting against a lifetime of stigmatization and being told that’s just something you don’t talk about. I know that I shouldn’t feel embarrassed about my period, but I do. It was just ingrained in me that it’s something to be embarrassed about, something to hide. I wish I could just magically get over those feelings, but it isn’t that easy.

          1. Laura*

            I feel this way too. I also know that it’s unprofessional to go into detail about medical issues at work, so you have to draw a fine line: be honest, but keep it straightforward and focused on the work.

        3. Elsajeni*

          That’s true, but as always with this sort of advice, you’ve got to balance the possibility that you talking openly about your period will contribute to reducing stigma in the future to the effect that stigma will have on you in the present, you know? I’m in favor of reducing stigma around periods (and a variety of other stigmatized conditions or statuses that this is equally true for), but I also hesitate to tell other people that they should volunteer to face that stigma in order to reduce it.

          1. Jeanne*

            Not all of us can afford to be trailblazers. I would love to reduce stigma against all diseases, including those associated with periods. But if a woman can’t afford the effect on her career that comes from battling this fight, I understand. I’ve been there. Years ago I completely hid my kidney disease at work for 5 years until I was scheduled for transplant. It’s what I had to do at the time.

          2. BananaPants*

            Frankly, if I talked openly about my period (which isn’t debilitating and doesn’t require any special accommodations) in my male-dominated workplace I would be forever known as the weirdo hippie “feminist” who made everyone uncomfortable by talking about shark week. It wouldn’t do anything to “reduce stigma” and would negatively affect my career.

            Making a big deal about menstruation like it’s always this debilitating thing can actually make it harder for women in the workplace. When it does cause issues, like for our OP, it can be dealt with as a medical concern – I just see zero reason to overtly make sure one’s boss knows it’s period-related when there’s really no call to share that level of personal medical information. It’s fine to just say, “occasional flare-ups” or whatever.

        4. Artemesia*

          For most women having your period is not a disability and doesn’t require swanning about and being treated delicately. For some women it is; they have conditions that are temporarily disabling and they need the kind of accommodation suggested by the OP. Drawing attention to the problem as a period just helps perpetuate the stereotype that all women are less reliable because of their ‘lady time’ to be Victorian about it. All women don’t need to be accommodated for the perfectly ordinary condition of being a woman; some women need accommodation for the temporary disability involved just as a man with recurrent migraines or colitis or other chronic issues might. Focusing on this as a period issue doesn’t help.

          1. Laura*

            You hit the nail on the head. A period isn’t inherently disruptive or disabling; the vast majority of women can manage their cycle just fine. I would hate for OP to perpetuate that negative stereotype about periods.

          2. Kimberlee, Esq*

            I like this framing. The problem isn’t the period so much as it is a related but distinct condition.

        5. Case of the Mondays*

          I also wish there was a way to reduce the period stigma while still acknowledging that yeah, it’s kind of gross. I’m a woman (though I don’t speak for all women) but if a coworker had a bleeding place on his arm that required saturated bandages to be changed throughout the day that would be gross too. And it is grosser when it is coming out of ones genitals. I wouldn’t want to hear about fluids from my male cowoker’s penises either.

          So I get that periods are normal and most women have them and we should be able to admit to period problems but I think it is also fine to not want other people thinking about the fact that you have blood coming out of your genitals.

        6. Chickaletta*

          I agree that we shouldn’t have to dance around the subject, but if the only time we bring it up is in a negative context like needing time off work, the pain, the emotional roller coasters and so on, then it just adds to the stereotypes. If we’re going to discuss periods with the goal of diffusing steroetypes about them, then it might be better to stick to positive and neutral topics (and yes, there are some).

        7. PhyllisB*

          kristinyc, the problem with what you’re saying is; for too many years this was considered a legitimate excuse to not hire/promote women. (They’re all a bunch of emotional ninnies “that time of the month” and can’t be counted on.) Yes, we all have them (or did. Thank Goodness that’s all behind me now) but the less it’s mentioned, the better. And believe it or not, it’s not just male bosses who scoff. Ask anybody who ever took high school gym how their (female) coach reacted to complaints of cramps.

          Also I worked as an operator for the phone company for over 20 years (which was like 100% female in our office until about five years before I retired, then it was still 97% women.) Very few of our female supervisors were sympathetic to these issues.

    2. Newby*

      I have found that simply saying it is a flareup of a chronic condition works well. It makes it clear that it is not contagious and that I can accurately predict how long it will take to get better.

      1. anon for this*

        Yes, flare up shows it’s not life-threatening, but still serious and that you can’t predict when it’s going to happen. And like you said, it usually indicates you know when you’ll be back to 100%.

      2. Mona Lisa*

        Total agreement on this. It’s similar to the wording I use to explain a stomach condition I have to my supervisors, and none of them have been anything but understanding.

    3. MayravB*

      Another vote for “flare-up!” I also have a chronic health condition, and I’m 100% pro-vague descriptors. If you consider your health private and are ready to kill the next person who suggests yoga or going gluten-free, language that says “this is serious enough that I need accommodation, but not so serious that you need to worry” is great. I also like Alison’s bit about not wanting your boss to think you have a hangover. It’s sort of a code for “I don’t want you to think I’m not taking this job seriously.”

    4. HRChick*

      I have endometriosis. Before I got it under control with BC, I used to hear all manner of things.

      I used to get cramps so bad that I would vomit and pass out. I could barely move, never mind drive. My manager at the time was a woman and anytime I would call in, she would tell me how women have had periods forever and I needed to put on my “big girl panties” and come into work.

      If this is a recurring medical condition, could it be covered under the FMLA? Or ADA if it affects your life significantly enough?

      1. Jeanne*

        If it gets bad enough, it would be FMLA. But a morning every month or two probably isn’t.

    5. Lady Tech*

      Yep, I have issues with endometriosis as well, and this is good advice.

      If you feel comfortable, it might be best to just let your boss know you have a chronic condition with flare-ups about once a month. There is a good chance they may not even ask for further details. A lot of people suffer chronic conditions that put them out for a day or partial day, like Crohn’s disease or migraines.

      I have let my coworkers and bosses know that I have a health condition that affects me about once a month, and they have been very understanding. Thankfully I get great benefits at my job and accrue about 15-16 sick days a year, so I haven’t managed to burn my sick time completely, but it still doesn’t feel good to be the person taking the most sick time in the office. My boss knows how efficient I am at getting back on track and that I often work on projects from home (groaning and laying on a heating pad) when I’m out sick, so he has been very flexible with me and offered to let me log hours from home to save sick time.

      If you’re a high performer and you have good rapport with your boss, your best bet is to just be honest if you are feeling insecure about it. Good managers know how to retain good performers, and working with you on something like this that you can’t really help shouldn’t be a problem for a good boss.

  6. Chaordic One*

    #1, You’ve described your co-worker very diplomatically. He sounds kind of immature and like he wants to show off a bit. You correctly note that his confrontational style is more typical in academia, but I’ve recently read where this kind of confrontational style has been adopted at different departments at Amazon’s headquarters. Amazon is known for having a brutal work culture and it saddens me to think that this confrontational style might be spreading.

    Alison’s advice is spot-on as usual. If you say something to him (possibly as an act of mercy), it’s up to him to decide what to do with your advice.

    #2, If it’s a “Death Pool,” stay quiet. You don’t want in it. Bad karma. Bad juju.

    1. JaneB*

      In my bit of academia, behaving like that at conferences is considered rude and unprofessional. Which is one reason I like my subject!

      People are still showy-offy in comments, but it’s normal to begin with some sort of genuine question or compliment about something that was good in the talk, then launching into a ‘discussion contribution’ which shows how great the questioner’s own stuff/knowledge is, rather than attack.

      Depressingly, people used to more aggressive fields have referred to the conference of my field as ‘girly’.

      1. Myrin*

        I was just about to say the same thing! (Minus the girly part, Jesus Christ, I hate people.)

        I always find it interesting when people online talk about this experience with academia because it hasn’t been mine at all, neither in normal seminars nor at conferences or similar. I can never quite figure out if it’s a cultural thing (I’m not in the US or the UK where most sites I frequent are based) or a field cultural thing (like you say).

        But yeah, I was very surprised when I heard the “in academia, students are taught to find holes in others’ words and criticise everything they can find” thing for the first time because I’ve never experienced that (I mean, I guess there are some individual people who react that way to everyone they ever hear say something but I can’t really remember more than two people who are like that). It sounds so exhausting and negative! D:

        1. nofelix*

          It depends on how you approach it, and how technical your field is. Yes, it would be very exhausting and negative if everyone took it personally and ignored the point of critique. In my field it’s very common, although “criticising everything they can find” is not how to go about it.

          1. Tau*

            Ugh, did not mean to submit that. Sorry!

            In the bit of academia I ran away from, you’d be hard-pressed to find much discussion happening at all, honestly, since it’s usually only one or two people in the audience who’ve understood any of the talk. I was really surprised to find that other areas apparently have significant, sometimes heated discussion happening in seminars. (I guess they’re the same areas as those that have papers you can actually understand.)

            Academia: varies by subject matter!

      2. blackcat*

        So I live in an interdisciplinary field, sitting between a high male dominated one and a gender balanced to slightly female dominated one.

        My little interdisciplinary niche (which is pretty gender-balanced, maybe slightly male) is full of the most wonderful people! Conferences are great! Friendly! Harsh criticism on work is generally given privately (eg “I’m concerned about X. Here are some papers I’d suggest you read–you’ll want to make sure to cover your bases before you submit to a journal.”).

        The balanced/ slightly female field is slightly less friendly, with more adversarial comments at conferences.

        The hugely male dominated field is FULL OF ASSHOLES. And, even worse, is that even I become more of an asshole around them! I have been praised by people for behavior I’m ashamed of! It is the worst.

        So, it’s hugely, hugely field dependent.

        1. Artemesia*

          I well remember the first time I gave an academic paper at a conference as a sweet young thing in a hugely male dominated environment. Someone in the crowd launched a blistering attack — but since I knew the work better than he did, I was able to point out why the attack was irrelevant to the findings and show why I used the analysis I did. I was surrounded by people afterwards basically saying ‘Wow, we didn’t know a woman could handle that.’ It is still a vivid Memory nearly 50 years later. Most conferences I have been to since were certainly more challenging/adversarial than the norms of a business meeting but never again did I have anyone that obviously intent on showing the room I was a fool.

      3. nofelix*

        Well we only have one perspective on how aggressive he’s being. For some people, questioning “so what did the data say on the effectiveness of this approach?” would be very aggressive, even if preceded by compliments. All the OP says anyway is “His comments and questions to speakers and other attendees came across as very challenging and confrontational. Not rude, but not the right tone for setting”. I’m not sure how someone can be very confrontational without being rude, but really this just illustrates how we all have different understandings of etiquette.

        Also to be fair, maybe he knows that his approach isn’t common and wants to proceed anyway because there are benefits the OP isn’t as focused on. Not challenging people on anything they say does rather limit the usefulness of networking because you’re less sure of the value they can provide. I’m reminded of when my fiancée and I went to a wedding show recently and spoke to a photographer. Afterwards, she chided me for asking difficult questions. I pointed out that without details of cost, deposits, availability and the like, we would have no idea if we could use the photographer – and that someone who would bristle at being asked basic info about the business isn’t someone we’d want to work with. I think the same applies to business conferences. If someone gets upset that I ask them a difficult question in an easy setting like a conference, what are they going to be like when more is at stake?

        1. Not the Droid You Are Looking For*

          You’re right that we do only have one perspective, but I think many of us have been in the conference room when one person “asks” a question that is not really a question, but a chance for them to demonstrate how much more they know about the subject than the person who is speaking.

          However, I was at a conference and one of my coworkers was repeatedly (I would even say agressively) pushing a presenter about their calculations. He kept asking questions and the presenter got flustered, but when it clicked why he was pushing it was clear that though the presenter’s results were right, they weren’t exactly accurate. I would have characterized his behavior as aggressive, and it’s not something I would have done, but he was never rude, and wasn’t trying to show off.

          1. nofelix*

            Yes, your second example is exactly what I think about when people complain about difficult questions being asked. Do we want conferences where people can spout whatever they like and it’s mutely accepted? Maybe we do in some situations, but likely not all. Most of the time we would like knowledgeable people to speak up if they see problems in a proposal, and so there’s a need to make it safe for them to do so (politely).

        2. Mike C.*

          I really have to agree here. I think the issue that comes up is that if you’re used to asking (and being asked in return) difficult questions it’s no big deal. When you aren’t, folks think you’re being rude. It takes experience to bridge that gap, but at the same time, I’d rather be rude than wrong in my line of work.

          1. Engineer Girl*

            Yup. Aero culture expects and demands you ask the hard questions lest you blow someone/something up.
            I’ve found it doesn’t work as well in other parts of my life, especially coming from a woman. (How DARE you ask that?, harrumph!)
            I’d still rather ask the hard questions.

          2. neverjaunty*

            Well, but context is everything. Confronting a colleague on their being bull-headedly wrong is not the same as standing up at a conference with “this is more of an observation than a question” and proceeding to be confrontational.

        3. Artemesia*

          Wow. She is lucky you are shopping for the photographer. I hired the one for my daughter’s wedding (I lived in the south where the wedding would occur, the couple were working on opposite coasts.) A huge number of photographers are not very good. I was astounded at the samples they showed me as they were truly no better than I could have done (I am a good photographer but not a pro and expect a pro to have crystal sharp focus, the ability to capture the spontaneous moment, mastery of lighting so faces are not in shadow etc ) Lots of work I was shown just wasn’t good. I got a really good photographer and then told him exactly what I wanted in terms of great candid shots — we got great work. It is no more expensive to hire someone good but it isn’t easy to find them.

          1. nofelix*

            Yeah it has been tough to explain to my fiancee that I am not super-critical of photographers just because I expect the basics like you describe. I found lots of the people we looked at had awful composition in their shots, yet were using them in their portfolio. The guy we ended up using is an ex-graphic designer.

    2. Mike C.*

      On the other hand, I’ve found that if people aren’t willing to challenge things they see or are being told, errors are propagated, safety issues come up, foreseeable problems are ignored and so on. Sure there’s line you have to straddle here, but as long as someone isn’t being a complete jerk they shouldn’t have to tolerate having their intelligence insulted by a bunch of puffery or half-developed ideas.

    1. YetAnotherAnon*

      Hey now, that’s sexist. What if someone called it “womansplaining?”

      1. The IT Manager*

        Mansplaining is sexism practiced against women.

        Mansplaining is a portmanteau of the words man and explaining, defined as “to explain something to someone, typically a man to woman, in a manner regarded as condescending or patronizing.”[1][2] Lily Rothman of The Atlantic defines it as “explaining without regard to the fact that the explainee knows more than the explainer, often done by a man to a woman,”[3] and feminist author and essayist Rebecca Solnit ascribes the phenomenon to a combination of “overconfidence and cluelessness.”[4]

      2. nofelix*

        As a man, I don’t find someone using the term ‘mansplaining’ to be sexist.

      3. Apollo Warbucks*

        I wouldn’t call it sexist as it is not being directed towards all men it is a description of particular type of behaviour rather than bashing all men.

      4. Oryx*

        That’s…..not how this works. When it comes to things like mansplaining where it’s clearly established in a power dynamic, there’s no reverse thing happening.

        1. Myrin*

          And all that aside, I’ve actually seen people (even Captain Awkward herself, if memory serves me correctly) use “womansplaining” when being done by a woman (because there are women who exhibit that exact same behaviour, it’s just that the vast majority is men) so, yeah, it’s not even like that’s a super ~crazy~ or ~outlandish~ word.

            1. asteramella*

              Equally irritating, but without the same weight of societal prejudice and oppression backing it up (all other things being equal; e.g. white women can ‘whitesplain’ to men of color as well).

          1. TootsNYC*

            I think “womansplaining” exists. Every woman in Target who explains to Dad how to comfort his crying baby, for example.

            It may not extend to as many areas, but it’s there.

            1. Julia*

              Or some woman explaining to people like OP3 that periods shouldn’t keep them from working.

        1. JB (not in Houston)*

          Women have a reputation for not being able to shut up, but in mixed groups, men tend to talk more than women (and interrupt them to do so). I think you were making a joke, but it’s one that reinforces a false stereotype.

        2. dr_silverware*

          I’m sure you didn’t mean it this way, but I got some serious 1950s “women talk too much, amirite” vibes on this comment. :(

        3. scarydogmother*

          This is called projection. Just like the stereotype that women are “overly emotional” or can’t handle their emotions.

      5. LBK*

        Any mention of a behavior being associated with a gender isn’t instantly sexism, and if that’s what you take away from reading or hearing discussions about power structures and socialized behaviors in which it’s discussed how men (as a societal whole) act a certain way towards women (again, as a societal whole) then you’re not understanding the conversation.

      6. Engineer Girl*

        Mans planning isn’t sexist. Mansplaining describes sexism. Like when one of the managers tried to explain to me how some satellite software worked when I was the lead engineer for the project.

        1. Ms. Didymus*

          I had a male coworker feel the need to explain to me how a report I built worked.

          A report I built and trained my entire team on. Including him.

    2. Roscoe*

      What specifically was manspalining in any of these letters? Based on your username, I assume its question 2, but I didn’t get that anything was being mansplained here (and I do hate that term)

      1. Oryx*

        I’m guessing #2. I’ve seen it happen to friends who are HUGE sports fans but men they meet don’t believe it and start quizzing them, making them “prove” they are a real fan, and starting to do the “Well, actually….” thing about sports.

        1. Roscoe*

          Sure, but nothing in the letter says anything about that. It says they quiz them, but my understanding is that its different then supposed mansplaining, right?

          1. Oryx*

            Well, okay, sure, but just the fact that the OP has to prove her interest in something when men don’t is a bit of an issue that is sort of a sister situation to mansplaining.

            1. Kelly L.*

              Someone downthread called it “gatekeeping” and I think that’s a really good word for it. It’s the “you’re a fake geek girl/fake sports fan” phenomenon.

              1. Roscoe*

                I’ve never heard that term, but sure, that makes sense. In a way thats different than mansplaining.

    3. Anon Moose*

      When its geeky dudes doing this testing and mansplaining and not a real geek thing, I use the term misogynerd. (Obligatory #notallgeekyguys, just THOSE ones)

      1. Loose Seal*

        I like the term “condesplaining” (condescending + explaining). Works regardless of the ‘splainer’s gender.

  7. Chocolate Teapot*

    5. I once got called in the morning to attend an interview that afternoon. I had done some preparation when my initial application had been submitted, but the odd thing was that I had just accepted another job, and was due to start the following day!

    The interviewing company knew this and there had been much gnashing of teeth as to why they hadn’t managed to secure my services. I am going to take the actual job which comes with a contract and appendix with salary, rather then wait for you to decide whether you might interview me or not!

    But depending on the job, I find that very often I can recycle my preparation when interviewing with a similar sort of company.

  8. Seianus*

    No person I know would make such a big deal of #2. If something like this happens in my office and I want to participate and nobody invited me yet, I’d just ask and I am in and that’s the end of the story. It’s really weird to read that you’ve been just waiting for personal invitation doing nothing, until you decided to write an email to Allison. Just go and ask! Take some initiative! Are you sure every single of those males were _invited_ by someone, none of them asked to participate themselves, like you should have done?

    Also, most likely you are not getting invitation because they assume you won’t be interested. Everyone I know would just love if more women participated in their activities, but after told “thanks but no thanks” too many times, they sometimes just stop bothering with asking. Or there may be others reasons why they assumed you won’t be interested, but it’s very unlikely they do not want you to participate because you are woman. Especially since you said they are cool guys otherwise. So cheer up, stop assuming nonsensical things and show some initiative and next time you will get invited since they will know you like such activities, and you will get much more respect for showing initiative as opposed to waiting for personal invitation.

    1. Women in Sports*

      So you completely disregarded the part that the two men who ACTUALLY aren’t interested were being prodded and begged to join, yet she was never even ASKED?

      You’re just going to skip that part entirely? Okay. -___-

      1. Seianus*

        Well I am not obliged to address every single small point in that letter. I just addressed a general feeling it gave me. There can be many explanations. Maybe they feel more comfortable prodding other men. Maybe they know those two and know they do give up once prodded enough. I answered assuming the problem here was “OP wanted to participate”, and not “OP wanted to be begged to participate”.

        1. De (Germany)*

          “I answered assuming the problem here was “OP wanted to participate”, and not “OP wanted to be begged to participate”.”

          She doesn’t want to be *begged*, she wants to be *asked*.

          1. Minion*

            I think that’s what Seianus actually said… s/he was answering the question with the assumption that OP WANTED to participate NOT that OP wanted to be begged. You’ve kind of restated that exact thing.

            Or maybe I’m missing something.

            1. De (Germany)*

              I think you are missing is that Seianus was trying to frame it like the people arguing against his(?) point are being ridiculous by calling it wanting to be “begged” instead of “asked”. Women in Sports said “yet she was never even ASKED”, and Seianus rephrased that to make it sound ridiculous.

              1. De (Germany)*

                And besides, yes, I think the problem actually is that the OP should be asked.

              2. Minion*

                Then I guess I’m just reading it wrong and not making connections that I should. That specific comment and your follow-up seemed to be the same thing. I wasn’t trying to argue that OP is being ridiculous or agree with that in any way. I don’t want it to be taken that way at all. Sorry about that.

                1. De (Germany)*

                  Hmm, I may be expressing myself badly…

                  Basically, Seianus was saying “well, I was giving advice for trying to accomplish goal A, not goal B”, but making it sound – by using “begged” instead of the original “asked” – that trying to accomplish goal B is ridiculous anyway. But nobody is saying the Letter Writer should be begged by her colleagues to participate – only to be asked. Goal B is not ridiculous, and in my opinion is actually the thing that should be accomplished.

                2. Minion*

                  Okay, I see what you’re saying. I was reading it differently and so I wasn’t seeing subtleties or implications in there, but coupled with the original comment and, with your explanation, I can see where you’re coming from. It’s not ridiculous for OP to feel excluded.
                  You’re right – OP should have been asked and shouldn’t have to ask to be asked. LOL that sounds confusing too!

        2. Apollo Warbucks*

          Every single small point?????

          The fact that uninterested men have been asked multiple times to join while an interested woman hasn’t been asked even once seems like a farily big point to me.

          1. Roscoe*

            Honestly with this one, I could chalk it up to how close they are with the other guys. I do social activies for work. I’ll typically just send an email or something to the entire company or department and ask them to reply to me. If its someone I’m close with, I’ll likely pester them a bit more to join in. Really because its more fun to do stuff like this with people you are close with. So while I do think there should probably have been a department email sent out or something, I can see why they might ask certain people about it multiple times.

            1. Jinx*

              I think your way is fine, because you start by sending an email to the entire group. If you’ve asked everyone by email, I don’t see an issue with giving your friends extra encouragement to join. But it doesn’t sound like OP’s coworkers sent out an open invitation including her.

              1. Roscoe*

                Where did that even come from? I’m saying if these guys are closer to each other, than it makes sense. Why are you trying to imply I said something I didn’t. But its not such a stretch to think that just maybe the guys are closer to each other than the woman. Just like in a department of mostly women, it wouldn’t be a stretch to assume the women are closer to each other than the men. Why do people try to nit pick everything?

                1. Oryx*

                  Because this is a very real issue that women have to deal with ALL THE FREAKING TIME. And while I understand that as a man it’s not something YOU have dealt with, it’s really disrespectful to try and tell a woman (the OP) who believes that she’s the victim of sexism from co-workers that, Nah, it’s not sexism.

                2. Roscoe*

                  Oryx, sure. But I’m referring to Do Dah’s passive comment about only possible to be close to men.

            2. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)*

              Sure. But we have no inforation about who is closer to whom here.

              This is what happens when someone identifies a problem as sexist (or racist or whatever): too many people look around for any other possible explanation, so they can avoid tacking the sexism.

              1. blackcat*

                I have heard a term coined for this, in opposite to Occam’s razor (the principle that the simplest explanation is the most likely): Occam’s Big Paisley Tie.

                Link to follow.

            3. Kelly L.*


              I promise I’m not following you around or anything, but when someone is a regular commenter, one starts to notice themes to their comments. I’ve noticed you almost always have a non-sexism explanation for gender-related issues. Is it possible you have a personal blind spot in this area?

              1. Roscoe*

                Nope, not a blind spot. I just think people are often quick to jump to sexism when there are other possible reasons. To be fair, I also think people jump to racism when there are other possible reason, and I’m black.

                I don’t see pointing out how I could see this being anything but sexism is wrong. I’ve said I don’t think the guys handled this thing well, but in this instance, I can see how pestering other people about something can make sense, since I have done the same thing before.

                It is very possible that these guys are sexist jerks. Its also possible that they are just rude people and it has nothing to do with gender. We don’t know, but there is nothing wrong with considering both sides.

                1. neverjaunty*

                  Yes, Roscoe, there is something wrong with “considering both sides” when it means bending over backwards to find a weak “side” to counteract a more likely explanation – and here it means ignoring what the OP actually said.

                  Why are you so invested in denying what OP has explicitly said about her workplace?

                2. Rat in the Sugar*

                  Well, as Alison said below, OP has stated that she has been treated differently by her coworkers because of gender on other occasions, and Alison asked us to believe her in that. Coming from that point of view, it seems unlikely that her coworkers behavior has nothing to do with her gender. It doesn’t mean that her coworkers are awful sexist people who hate women, but their behavior in this case is gender-based.

                3. Murphy*

                  It’s also very likely that their neither sexist jerks or that there is a non-sexist explanation. You can act in an unconscious, sexist way and not actually be a sexist jerk yourself. Society reinforces that behaviour so it’s actually more common than we think (unconscious bias and all).

                  The point is that while these guys may not be sexist jerks, they’re perpetuating sexist attitudes. Calling people out on them in a gentle, learning-type way is an excellent consciousness raising activity that makes no one a villain.

                  hashtag knowbetterdobetter ;)

                4. Murphy*

                  That being said (my previous comment), men who quiz women on their knowledge of traditionally male-dominated areas are at least a little bit on the sexist jerk side of the scale. It’s a dick move and is designed to say, not so subtly, “you don’t belong here.”

                5. LBK*

                  I think what you’re failing to see is that there’s a huge gap between “not sexist at all” and “sexist jerks,” just like there’s a huge middle ground between “not racist at all” and “member of the KKK”. The majority of sexist/racist actions in our society today aren’t conscious, explicit bias (Trump supporters notwithstanding), they’re the result of people just not thinking about the ways in which their thinking is driven by social constructs and socialized behaviors. Someone can be genuinely not a jerk and genuinely not aware of how they’re being sexist, but that doesn’t mean their actions aren’t sexist just because they didn’t do it on purpose or didn’t realize they were being sexist.

                  Being called sexist isn’t a scarlet letter meant to brand you as a terrible person – I’d argue almost everyone has some level of sexism built into their actions because our whole culture has sexism poured into the foundation. This is what’s given rise to concepts like “checking your privilege” – the idea is just to be more aware of your actions and how you’re influenced by or contributing to reinforcing sexist constructs.

                  The reason it can sometimes feel like “sexist” is a slur is because people are so absurdly resistant to even considering for a second that they’re doing something sexist, because they think of themselves as a good person who would never do something sexist. They think of workplace sexism in 1950’s Mad Men ass-slapping, women-only-as-secretaries style and they refuse to even discuss the idea that there’s some sexist motivation behind, say, not inviting a woman who’s openly expressed an interest in sports to your sports betting pool, because it’s 2016 and of course they aren’t sexist, they love women! And that just leads people to doubling down on trying to explain why it’s sexist, which causes further defensiveness, and then you end up with MRAs who insist that calling someone a sexist is itself sexist or is hate speech.

                6. Roscoe*

                  @LBK Thank you for listening to my points and providing a well thought, non accusatory response. I get what you are saying completely. And I agree. I think as a man, being called a sexist is akin to calling a white person racist. You can know that you aren’t sexist, so being called something that is such a socially charged word is a tough thing to hear. I think the problem is many people aren’t prone to making a difference between saying that was a sexist action and you are a sexist person. So even when they mean the former, it comes out as the latter

                7. LBK*

                  You can know that you aren’t sexist, so being called something that is such a socially charged word is a tough thing to hear.

                  That’s exactly my point, though. Many, many people think they “know” they aren’t being sexist, but they’re wrong. Just because you didn’t consciously think “I’m going to treat her differently because she’s a woman” doesn’t mean you aren’t being sexist. The guy running the betting pool doesn’t have to think “I’m not going to invite Jane because she’s a woman and they don’t like sports” in order for his actions to be motivated by sexism. This is why sexism is so insidious – because it’s programmed into our subconscious and influences our decision-making without us even realizing it.

                  Also, it’s only socially charged because people who get offended by being called out on sexism only hear “sexist” as the most extremely manifestation of that term. People won’t listen to being told there’s a middle ground and that they can be sexist without intending to. And I really don’t think there’s a meaningful difference between “you’re being sexist” and “you’re doing something sexist” – they sound different in an ongoing conversation like this, but as a call out on someone’s sexist behavior, they’re pretty much going to be read identically by the offending party.

                8. Lily Evans*

                  As a white person, I don’t tell POC that something they see as racist isn’t actually racist because there are other explanations. As a man, you don’t get to tell women that something they see as sexist isn’t sexist because there could be another explanation. It’s a “stay in your lane” situation. I will never experience the daily impact of systemic racism. You will never experience the daily impact of systemic sexism. One of the best things any of us can do to help end racism, or sexism, or any of the million other prejudices is to believe the people who are affected by those things instead of trying to explain their experiences away.

                9. Ask a Manager* Post author

                  Roscoe, I actually want to repeat the call I’ve made to you in the past re: discussions of gender here. Can you consider that still in effect? Thank you.

                10. TootsNYC*

                  actually, the use of the word “pestering” here brings up another dynamic (also with gender overtones):

                  Maybe these guys feel comfortable pestering other guys about participating, but they thing it would be rude to pester their female coworker, or to put her on the spot.

                  Because this is gambling.

                  And because they know the power differential that men have and don’t feel comfortable bringing that to bear with their female colleague.

                  Still a gender problem, but not as much as “you’re a girl, so you can’t like sports.”

                  And it’s still a gender divide in social situations in the office.

                  But the solution, I think, is the same no matter WHAT is going on.

                  The OP should just speak up, “Hey, guys, what about me? I even LIKE soccer. Where’s the sign-up sheet?”

            4. neverjaunty*

              Yes, you could chalk it up to that, if you chose to ignore everything else in OP #2’s letter.

            5. De (Germany)*

              I don’t think these hypotheticals that obviously aren’t the case in the situation discussed here are helpful…

            6. Lillian McGee*

              “because its more fun to do stuff like this with people you are close with”

              But this is a big part of the problem. When women are left out of these bonding opportunities at work, they suffer real consequences in their career.

          2. Minion*

            I think assuming that someone wants to join a betting pool because they like sports isn’t necessarily a logical assumption. I like football of the NFL variety, but I no desire whatsoever to get involved in a fantasy league.
            I can also see how if OP were of a different frame of mind, and were being pestered to participate, this letter could be very different. Also, I think everyone has different comfort levels when dealing with different people. I might be comfortable pestering John about participating because he’s good natured and doesn’t get upset and I know he’ll eventually give in, but I wouldn’t pester Joe because I know he’s not the type to take kindly to that kind of thing. Maybe the guys don’t feel comfortable pestering OP and they believe that if she wants in she’ll say something. If she’s been pretty direct with them in the past about different things, they may assume she’ll speak up if she’s interested.

        3. neverjaunty*

          You’re not simply skipping over small points; you’re vaulting over huge, black-and-white things the OP said in her letter because they do not mesh with the “feeling” it gave you.

        4. Sam*

          Men and their feelings…. Anyway, if they’re more comfortable around men in the workplace then they need to adjust their attitudes. The reason women are left out of networking opportunities such as golf outings and mentorships is because some men are only comfortable around other men, and there’s always someone ready to make excuses for that kind of sexism.

      2. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)*

        And the part where theyvery already once dismissed her interest in sports.

    2. Apollo Warbucks*

      Yes the OP can ask to be invited to join, but it does seen that she was left out because because of her gender. That doesn’t make the guys in the office sexist jerks or mean they’re horrible people, at the very least it makes them careless and inconsiderate, in such a small team it should have been an open invitation to everyone. Even a group email that gave to OP a chance to opt in would have been enough.

      Also she says:

      “but occasionally I do feel like I’m treated differently because I’m a woman. The latest example is that today I overheard the guys talking about how they have a betting pool going for Euro 2016”

      So this event is one example of being treated differently because of gender, whilst you seem to be treating it in isolation, the OP has more context and background about the situation and the pattern of behaviour displayed by her coworkers.

      1. Merry and Bright*

        This sums it up perfectly. Also, I find group emails are normal for inviting people to join sweepstakes, secret santa draws, etc.

      2. blackcat*


        In one of my two offices, I am *the only woman*. I work around a ton of wonderful guys,–guys who call out other guys on sexist bullshit. I always, always have to ask to be included in things like going out for drinks. It is that type of small thing that places me on the outside. They don’t *mean* to treat me differently. But they do. Its exhausting to deal with it all the time. The new term for this is “micro-aggressions,” but the good, old phrase “death by a thousand paper cuts” applies here.

        It’s not about one moment. It’s about all the moments combined.

        1. neverjaunty*

          They’re not THAT wonderful. Lots of guys are happy to call put sexism in other guys, only, but have zero interest in addressing any sexism that affects their own comfort zone and requires them to take a look at their own behavior.

          1. Anon Moose*

            Idk. No one is going to be good at policing their own ingrained behavior 100% of the time. They’re trained not to notice. BUT, the difference is how they react and what changes occur when its pointed out to them.

          2. LBK*

            Well, wait, I think that’s part of the issue. We can’t expect everyone to be perfect about addressing sexism 100% of the time and tell them they’re not good people if they don’t. That’s when people give up doing anything at all, when they feel like it’s never enough and the call out culture is never satisfied.

            1. neverjaunty*

              It is “call out culture”, just not in the way you mean. It’s pointing to the specks in other people’s eyes, in a public way designed to signal one’s own virtue, while doing nothing about the plank in one’s own eye – and sometimes, indignantly taking offense if anyone points out that plank.

          3. blackcat*

            These guys have actually been pretty reasonable when I’ve pointed out “Hey, you guys always seem to forget to invite me. That’s not cool.”

            Things would get better for a while and then worse again. I do think some of the problem is that my time is split between two departments/buildings, so they only see me ~50% of the time. I do get any invitation that goes out in email form (an opt-out listserve was created in response to me bringing this up as A. Thing.). It’s the more casual in person invites that don’t make their way to me, either because I’m not in the building, or they don’t walk through my area of our shared building (the other folks in my cubical pod–all men–don’t generally go out).

            I do think it’s important to engage people who make these sort of mistakes in good faith. Unconscious biases are unconscious! I consider myself REALLY lucky to be surrounded by men who are willing to change their behavior. There are plenty of departments in this field where blatant sexual harassment is the norm.

            1. neverjaunty*

              Oh, sure, there’s plenty of room for pointing out unconscious bias in well-meaning people. I just personally am unwilling to praise and hand out Justice Cookies to guys who loudly denounce sexism only when other dudes do it.

        2. BananaPants*

          I’m not the only woman, but I’m one of only two women in my tough cohort/peer group at work – there are many more men than women. I have a smaller group of other men in this peer group who I’ve worked with for 10+ years now and I’m NEVER included in things like going out to lunch on Fridays, going with families to social events on the weekend, Super Bowl pools or fantasy sports, etc. They’re nice guys who I consider work friends, but the fact is that unless I explicitly come out and ask to be included I will *not* be asked to join them.

          OP should just ask. No, she shouldn’t have to, but reality is that in many male-dominated workplaces she will. The guys are likely assuming she doesn’t want to participate because she’s a woman, but that doesn’t mean they won’t welcome her when she asks to join in. They’re usually somewhat oblivious to the fact that they exclude women in a lot of little ways.

          1. Niccola M.*

            It has occurred to me that many men will continue to be oblivious in this way unless there are adverse consequences for being so. Unfortunately, opportunities for creating these consequences, such as “not telling my friend who wants to hire a programmer about Steve” and “having to answer honestly on yearly peer evaluation forms about Tony’s poor performance in fostering a team atmosphere” are infrequent. In the meantime I would spend the extra free time cultivating friendships with women in other cohorts and peer groups, as well as non-women who are also excluded from The Dude Network for one reason or another.

    3. Fushi*

      If the men doing the inviting stopped inviting women because women told them “no,” but haven’t stopped inviting men even though men have also (per the letter) told them “no,” they’re still being uncool. It’s one thing to stop making the invitations for other people to join you in something because you’re tired of putting in the effort and getting rejected; it’s another thing entirely to stop asking *exclusively* women because some women don’t like the thing, and therefore you assume all women don’t like the thing. And it’s a particularly odd attitude to take if they’d “love if more women participated.”

      I agree OP should just ask! But the men in her office still should have proactively tried to include her as much as they did with the men.

      1. I'm a Little Teapot*

        >it’s another thing to stop asking *exclusively* women because some women don’t like the thing, and therefore you assume all women don’t like the thing

        YES. We are not a hivemind.

      2. INFJ*

        Exactly. If the same *person* keeps saying no, I can understand not asking them. But to assume OP would say no because she’s a woman is not cool.

    4. Ask a Manager* Post author

      First and foremost, please do not tell women who are concerned about sexism to cheer up or to stop assuming nonsensical things (!).

      She also says she does sometimes feel she’s treated differently because she’s a woman, and that this is one example. I’d like us to take her at word about that.

      And she specifically says that men are being cajoled to participate when they’re not interested.

      1. Ms. Didymus*

        Thank you Alison, for your first point here. That was high on my rage-o-meter. It is right up there with telling women to not be so emotional.

      2. Lily Evans*

        Thank you, Alison! The “cheer up” comment really raised my hackles. Way too close to men telling women to “smile”

      3. AMT*

        Right, and she’s also aid that simply liking a basketball team got her a round of quizzing! I mean, you could say, “Hey, maybe they’re huge Jeopardy fans,” but at this point, doubting that there has been some sexism here sounds crazy.

        1. Lily Evans*

          But did they make her give her answers in the form of a question? How else would we know they’re TRUE Jeopardy fans?

    5. hbc*

      “Also, most likely you are not getting invitation because they assume you won’t be interested.”

      That’s…kind of the whole point. They assume an avowed sports fan (who passed a rigorous screening of her fandom) isn’t interested because Woman and the resident sports hater needs to be pestered into it because Man. They are ignoring known individual preferences in favor of gender stereotypes. It’s pretty much the definition of sexism. Of course if this was one stupid blind spot, it wouldn’t be a big deal, but this kind of attitude comes out in lots of insidious ways.

      1. One of the Sarahs*

        Yeah, and it hurts everyone. OP is treated like she doesn’t exist because girl cooties, or whatever, and the guys who aren’t sporty are being hassled, being they’re not manly enough, or whatever, because of course All Men Love Sports. It’s just nasty all round.

      2. Allison*

        Reminds me of when my coworker spoiled The Force Awakens for me. Despite me constantly saying that I was excited to see it, but was waiting to see it with my family, so no spoilers please, the guy who sits right next to me blabbed about what happens to Han Solo the day after he saw it, because he didn’t realize I was a Star Wars fan.

      3. Ad Astra*

        Yes, thank you. That’s the entire point. On its own, this is not a big deal at all, so I can sort of see how some men are struggling to understand why it’s such a big deal. But this stuff is insidious — you chose the exact right word. People need to be more conscientious about how their own biases affect other people, especially in the office. An entire career full of tiny, seemingly unimportant slights really adds up for women.

        It’s really not that hard to invite everyone, even when you don’t think they’d be interested. There are plenty of benefits to that approach that have nothing to do with gender or discrimination; it’s just a good idea.

    6. Mookie*

      Everyone I know would just love if more women participated in their activities

      Everyone you know is a man?

        1. Macedon*

          It’s pretty sad when you can tell a commenter’s gender without their making any reference to it.

      1. BeautifulVoid*

        This is exactly what I thought when I read that line.

        Though I guess if you squint, all women would just love it if more women participated in their baking clubs, or makeup parties, or whatever it is women do.

        1. Mookie*

          Also, I’ve never actually found that to be true, particularly when expressed that way. What it generally translates to is: I would like more attractive cheerleaders on the sidelines to witness my triumphs at [male-coded hobby that women already participate in but are ignored or marginalized], but I don’t want them to actually engage or risk being better at it than me or to ever occupy a position of authority within its complicated hierarchy. Male flight from hobbies and trades is a real phenomenon.

    7. Ms. Didymus*

      Oh, I really love it when men tell women that sexism is the unlikely culprit. It helps so much to have a man explain the world to me so I don’t get overly emotional and assume silly things.

      1. Allison*

        > It helps so much to have a man explain the world to me so I don’t get overly emotional and assume silly things.

        Oh yes, I agree! My tiny lady brain has a hard time understanding the world, so it’s very helpful when men help by explaining things to me, it helps keep me from wrinkling my pretty forehead!

      2. DCR*

        I don’t know how I would get by without it. Otherwise, I’m going to assume “nonsensical” things

      3. Murphy*

        Don’t you worry your pretty little head about it. Teh_menz will take care of it all.

    8. Jinx*

      “Everyone I know would just love if more women participated in their activities, but after told “thanks but no thanks” too many times, they sometimes just stop bothering with asking.”

      As a woman in gamer culture, this really isn’t sound logic and it’s a barrier to us joining your activities. It’s reasonable to stop asking a particular woman (or person) if she says “no thanks” multiple times, but it’s a leap from that to not asking all women ever. Particularly in an office culture where asking everyone is usually as simple as emailing the entire group.

      1. Kelly L.*

        This. Lots of men aren’t into sports/gaming either. If Wakeen keeps turning you down for fantasy sports, stop asking Wakeen, but that doesn’t mean Percival doesn’t want to play. And if Jane turns you down for D&D, that doesn’t mean Persephone doesn’t want to play.

      2. Myrin*

        Especially since whenever a new woman who could potentially be interested in and want to join Thing, it’s not a new cell in the huge singular body of The One Woman who appears (in which case it would make sense to not bother asking after already having been told No) – no, it’s a new individual person who has her own interests and likes and dislikes and who is completely separate from all the other women, maybe she really shares not a single thing with them other than being a woman, too, so there’s really no reason to simply not approach her based on her gender.

        (Especially as “gender” is just as arbitrary a category as everything else. Keeping that in mind might make how ridiculous this whole thing is more obvious to some. “A person with long hair was mean to me – I shall never be nice to a long-haired person ever again!”; “Someone wearing shorts cut me off in traffic today – evidence that all shorts-wearers are bad drivers!”; “Gosh, these two tall people are so bad at my favourite activity. Whenever I see a tall person, I immediately know they’ll be bad at favourite activity as well!”, and so on.)

        1. Kelly L.*

          This comes up a lot with dating advice too! Sometimes guys will write into various forums asking for advice, and get angry about conflicting information–one woman will say she hates being approached in a specific situation, another woman doesn’t mind, and the guy is like “Make up your minds!”–except the thing is that there’s no one universal answer for What Women Want, because there is no one universal Woman. Different people like different things. That’s never going to change unless we get assimilated by the Borg.

      3. neverjaunty*

        It’s also interesting how rarely people bemoaning the absence of women consider any possible explanation other than “women just don’t like our hobby”.

        1. BettyD*

          I just don’t understand why women don’t like our hobby, when we frame it as something that’s explicitly “ours,” that they must either request permission to enter into or respond rapturously when we deign to offer to include them. After all, it’s not like they’re likely to endure micro-aggressions, mansplaining, excessive gatekeeper quizzing, constantly being hit on or mooned over, or even potentially subjected to threats of physical and sexual violence while simply trying to enjoy a hobby.

          Oh well, women just must not be into it. What a shaaammmeee…

          1. neverjaunty*

            Right? If only more women joined our hobby (after passing out rigorous screening process), we could hit on them!

          2. One of the Sarahs*

            I’ve been told (by groups of male friends, lovely guys who would never dream of being sexist), that I couldn’t start D&D because I wouldn’t like it, couldn’t joint their Magic game because I’d get addicted, and so on..

            1. Chameleon*

              To be fair, as someone who looked down on Magic, then finally decided to “play a game or two”, they were probably right about that one. :)

      4. Lily Evans*

        It also says a lot if the same group of men consistently has women telling them no. Obviously every woman is just disinterested in whatever hobby it is, it couldn’t possibly be something that that group of men is doing that makes women not want to hang out with them.

    9. Artemesia*

      This. If this discussion is going on constantly in the office such that the OP knows who is in and out etc etc then how hard is it to say ‘Hey count me in!’ Yes, to not ask her is sexist,but when she is present when it is being discussed she is reinforcing the idea that she isn’t interested. Some sexism is crushing and inhibits progress in the workplace, but some is fairly trivial and best met with a little, dare I say it, gumption. Just wave your $$ and say ‘count me in’.

    10. Student*

      #2 is absolutely equivalent to everybody on the work team being invited to go to a bar for happy hour after work. Except the OP. Including hectoring the non-drinkers into going after they declined, right next to her, while never asking her.

      She’s upset about being excluded, openly and obviously. One could be very, very generous and assume this is thoughtlessness – but if it were the drinks-after-work instead of sports-bets, or if the genders were mixed up in the question, would you think they were just being thoughtless, or deliberately and immaturely excluding the OP because of something about her, specifically?

  9. The Optimizer*

    Op#3, I feel your pain! I’m pretty much out of commission 1-2 days a month myself. While I can power through with meds, I VERY much prefer to do that from the comfort of my own home. Thankfully, I work from home FT now, but in my old job that wasn’t the case. It was flexible and I could work from home from time to time but I couldn’t always predict when I would need those WFH days. I had to sit down with my last manager there, a 60-something year old man, and have that conversation. He had a wife and two daughters so I just said something like “Ron, you’ve lived with your wife and raised two girls all these years so I’m sure you understand this: I have a medical condition that puts me in a great deal of pain for 1-2 days every 4-6 weeks. I don’t want to call at the last minute and give you a lame excuse for not coming in, especially because I’m not so sick that I can’t work, so I’d like to be able to work from when needed. Obviously, I will come in if absolutely necessary but I would very much prefer to be able to work from the comfort of my own home.” He told me completely understood because his wife had endometriosis as well. I was nervous initially but he put me completely at ease. There were a few times that I needed to come in for meetings or particularly busy work stretches, but it went well after that otherwise.

  10. Minion*

    OP #3, you have my complete sympathy. I have fibroids and the pain is unbearable on that first day every month. I’ve never felt right calling in on those days because I struggle with my upbringing which has ingrained into my psyche that your period is something that is Never Discussed. So I come in and suffer tremendously until the meds kick in and I’m basically completely worthless until they do.
    So, I would strongly suggest that you follow Alison’s advice and don’t suffer like that. I really hate that some of us, as women, get so uncomfortable talking about our periods and I hate that so many men get so freaked out when it’s brought up. It makes it so difficult to just have a candid conversation about something that’s a legitimate issue that affects your ability to work. So, I hope you’ll take the advice offered and have a conversation with your manager.
    I’m so sorry you’re dealing with that, though. I’d recommend a hysterectomy, but turns out they don’t do those just for the asking. Go figure! ;)

    1. Not Me*

      I got a hysterectomy after 20 years of having debilitating periods that kept me out of work at least one day a month. The doctor tried other things first, but I was done having babies and so, so tired of the negative impact on my life. The surgery was a godsend and I have never, ever been sorry. (I hear there are other things they can do these days to help with the type of problem I was having so YMMV).

    2. Tau*

      Re: fibroids, I’m most likely just saying things you already know but there are ways of getting them removed or alleviating the symptoms without a full hysterectomy – more if you’re not worried about being able to become pregnant later, but even if you’d like to keep that there’s options! I had surgery to get mine removed last year and so far it’s looking like it worked, fingers crossed. Fibroids are the worst – I sympathise a lot.

    3. SH*

      A urologist thought I had a rare form of endo but I was concerned about his refusal to answer any of my questions so I cancelled the procedure he pressured me into scheduling. A few days later a medical professional I know posted an article her friend with fibroids wrote. It turns out that I have symptoms of that one too! Unfortunately, I decided to be candid in my male dominated office about why I’ve gone to the doctor so much in the last year and they’ve tried to pressure me into these invasive (and possibly unnecessary) procedures. Lesson learned!

  11. Roscoe*

    #1 Don’t say anything. Even if you are 100% right, you don’t have the standing to do so. You are his peer. Doesn’t matter that you started at the company earlier, you aren’t his superior. If you want to casually mention it to his boss when you get back, fine. But this isn’t on you to address.

    #2 I can see how this can feel, but really, just ask if you’d like to be included. I work on a team of mostly women, and they get together quite a bit and don’t invite me, and its probably because I’m a guy. Now most of the things they do, I have no interest in. But if I overhear them discussing something I would be interested in, I just ask them, and they have never said no. So what would be the point of me sulking about it? I’m sure people will say how “its not the same” for a man to not be invited, or “women can’t be sexist”, but the point is, its me being excluded because of my gender, so I get it. I don’t think they are bad people though, just making assumptions which are sometimes incorrect. But I have choices in how I choose to react. Be pissed off. Ask to be included. Or find another group to do something with. I choose to not be pissed off about it. Now you are welcome to get angry, but its just eating you up when they likely (based on your descriptions of them) aren’t doing it maliciously and would let you in.

    1. Not So NewReader*

      OP, the thought strikes me that by asking and getting involved in the pool, that you may find inroads for resolving some of the other biases you are seeing also. It could open doors for more conversations about other things. The hurdle here is how to explain things to who should know better and yet for some reason they do not know better. Hopefully, once explained to them, their behaviors will change.

    2. Ms. Didymus*

      I appreciate you don’t think these women are bad people but please understand it is natural for you to receive this sort of treatment differently than a woman would receive it from men.

      You see, women deal with this every day. Sometimes in big, obvious ways and sometimes in smaller, harder to define ways. And it is wearing on the soul. If it was an occasional thing and society was setup to truly treat the genders equally, I would agree with you that no one need make a big deal about it. But society is setup to favor men and disfavor women. Because it is more pervasive it makes it difficult to just say “oh I’m sure they aren’t bad people, I’ll just ask and be included” because in the back of our mind we’re thinking 1. I shouldn’t have to ask when none of the men have to and 2. this could be *dangerous* to push back against (I want to be clear that accidental sexism does not automatically mean violence against women but it can be really hard to know until it happens and so women must be hyper aware).

      Also, the women in your office ARE being sexist if they invite only women and not the men. That’s crap.

      1. Spills*

        “Also, the women in your office ARE being sexist if they invite only women and not the men. That’s crap.”

        This, exactly. Roscoe, what the women you work with are doing is also wrong, and shouldn’t be used to justify the behavior of the men in the betting pool. It’s just as wrong for women to exclude a man based on gender as it is for men to exclude women, and it’s unfortunate that is what is happening in this situation to you. But realize, this happens all the time to women, and it’s a lot harder to just choose not to react when it happens so frequently. Also, you may feel comfortable asking to just join in when you feel like it, but it can very intimidating to ask a large group of men to join in their activities, especially when you have been excluded your whole life, and may feel like you don’t belong, or don’t have a right to do so.

        Also, to address your point that you “don’t think they are bad people though, just making assumptions which are sometimes incorrect.”…that’s exactly it. No one is saying these guys are awful monsters for not inviting her, but just that they need to be more aware. If you do something that is hurtful and is making someone feel uncomfortable, even if you don’t have terrible intentions, wouldn’t you want to stop doing that thing?

      1. Roscoe*

        You really need to calm down. Are you just responding to every one of my comments passively not saying anything but trying to make some point? Well you are failing.

        1. Kelly L.*

          Telling women to calm down. Gee, that’s never happened before in the whole history of the world.

          1. Apollo Warbucks*

            and in the whole history of the world, no one has ever been calmed down my someone else telling them to clam down.

            1. EmKay*

              Telling me to calm down is the best way to get me from “mildly annoyed” to “murderous rage” in 0.2 seconds.

              1. Julia*

                And then they use that as proof that you were simply too emotional from the start.

          2. Roscoe*

            Ok, lets start attacking my word choice, not the meat of what I said. I’ll just say it now, I apologize for saying “calm down”. But my point stands is that Do Dah is just responding to my comments, implying certain things, while saying nothing of any substance

            1. neverjaunty*

              The meat of what you said, Roscoe, is that the OP is wrong to assume sexism when
              – she says she is sometimes treated differently than the members of her all-male team
              – she was grilled about her knowledge/interest in sports when she first started working there
              – the men who have no interest in sports or joining are being badgered to join.

              So yes, we can come up with all kinds of “possible” explanations if we ignore or minimize these facts. Just like it is, in fact, POSSIBLE that the reason all the cookies disappeared from the cookie jar is not that my child ate them, but that a burglar broke into the house, took nothing but cookies, and vanished without a trace. It’s just not very BELIEVABLE.

            2. Murphy*

              But words matter. A lot. Words are one of the major ways we interact with the world and express our deeply-held views. Telling someone to calm down (and I know you’ve apologized, but I’m not sure you get why you had to) is aggressive and belittling and telling women that they don’t get to have agency over their own lived experience. You don’t get to tell someone that how they interact with the world is wrong. It’s their world and it is experienced differently by different people, many of whom have significantly more privilege than others. “Calm down” is but on way to tell women that they don’t matter and we’ve been told that a lot and are, frankly, tired of hearing it.

        2. Ask a Manager* Post author

          Roscoe, I put this above too, but I want to make sure you see it. The request I made of you in the past re: gender issues is still in effect — can you please begin abiding by that again? Thank you.

      2. Minion*

        I’m having trouble understanding what your purpose is with these sarcastic comments.
        Even if you think that Roscoe is dead wrong, there’s no call to be so condescending and snarky. Especially when there’s nothing inherently wrong or mean spirited about his comment.
        Can we not disagree with someone without being a jackass to them? If you’re not sure how to do that, please see the comment from Ms. Didymus above. She explains why and with which points of Roscoe’s comments she disagrees and does it in a respectful and kind way, which is far more likely to end with Roscoe being able to see a perspective other than his own. (Not that he can’t…just saying that when we’re kind to people, they’re more likely to listen to what we have to say).
        I really hate to see this kind of hateful dialogue here.

        1. Anon Moose*

          I’ve only been reading AAM for a little while, but even I notice that any post remotely about sexism or women in the workplace, Roscoe completely dismisses the OP’s concerns and in the followup comments is rude to the people who disagree. Often Allison has to chime in.
          Yes to respectful dialogue. No to just letting this kind of thing slide.

          1. Minion*

            That’s why I liked Ms. Didymus’ post, above, and a lot of LBK’s posts because they can point out things that they disagree with or things that are wrong without resorting to snark and jackassery.
            Don’t get me wrong – I love good sarcasm and I indulge in it myself, but I generally try not to be hateful to people.
            And, you know, if Roscoe is consistently dismissive of women’s complaints of sexism, then sure, call him out. I’m not the Champion of Roscoe by any stretch; I just really got irked by DoDah’s continued troll-like comments.
            So, it’s not really a defense of any person I’m specifically concerned with, it’s more a hey, let’s at least be civil kind of thing.

    3. CM*

      Your coworkers who are excluding you because of your gender ARE doing something sexist. It’s fine that you choose not to worry about it and just invite yourself along whenever you overhear something you might be interested in. But it would also be reasonable for you to feel excluded and feel that it was unfair that you are being excluded due to your gender — in fact, I would argue that it’s a good thing to make people aware that they are treating you differently. People react to things in different ways.

    4. J.B.*

      Here’s a specific example of disparate impact. In my workgroup, the senior level positions were held by mostly males and two female employees. The female employees were most highly thought of by upper management – and earned 20% less than the male employees, and less than the average of midlevel employee salaries. Why did this happen? The first line manager valued the experience of the male employees more and budgeted more for them, and his decisions were not examined by upper management. Now he wasn’t a bad guy and would say good things about me, but I did not fit his vision of the background for the position. I was able to get the gap partially closed later but had to both bring data and have a gender ok external justification for “I will need to leave if I can’t get this” – this is something you should address because you value me wouldn’t have flown in and of itself.

      In the specific letter writer’s case, asking calmly to be included may indeed benefit her. However, given the context (previous grilling over sports, other gendered decisions alluded to) it is unlikely that the differences at work are going to go away. Also, women tend to get irritated when it is considered entirely their responsibility to fix the problem. Keep in mind that the OP didn’t ask whether she should go to HR, she asked whether she was justified in being irritated. Why exactly do you think so many women are responding “YES!”?

      Obviously the same thing happens in racially coded situations – assuming someone is a math whiz because Asian or athletic because African American – may be intended as a compliment but supremely irritating because it’s based on how you look rather than what you do.

      1. HeyNonnyNonny*

        “Also, women tend to get irritated when it is considered entirely their responsibility to fix the problem. ”

        This is a wonderful way of putting it.

        1. Lily Evans*

          Irritated and also just disheartened. Because facing the same gender based slights day after day throughout your entire life really wears on you. It’s exhausting to constantly have to fight to be included.

    5. Ad Astra*

      Choosing to not be pissed off about gender-based exclusion is a luxury afforded primarily to men.

      Yes, both men and women are guilty of making unfair, thoughtless assumptions based on gender at work. Most workplace sexism is unintentional. The difference is that these assumptions are costing women about 21 cents on the dollar.

      I think most of us here agree on the course of action OP should take in this situation, but speaking out against discrimination is a much riskier game for populations who have been systematically oppressed and excluded for generations. Part of the reason you feel so comfortable addressing it (or choosing not to address it) is that you don’t have to worry about permanent damage to your career in the potential fallout.

    6. Lily Evans*

      It’s definitely wrong for the women in your office to exclude you. That being said, it’s not exactly the same situation. Men in women dominated fields are more likely to be perceived as more competent than their female coworkers, and their careers often advance more quickly to reflect that. While women in men dominated fields are seen as less competent and will often never reach the same career heights as their male counterparts.

  12. Susan*

    Thanks for your reply (I wrote question #5). I should mention that I was told to prepare specific portfolio items for the interview that I was only told about in my invitation email. Also the nature of the position requires that I run a division of their operations and the job description mentioned they need someone who has experience growing programs, so typically an interview of this kind, in my experience, requires that I be able to talk about the programs I’d be responsible for, impressions, areas where there’s room for growth, etc. Honestly, I had to spend every available hour I had to prepare for this interview.

    I realize that interviews are typically arbitrary times based on scheduling, but I was a little annoyed to hear that others would be getting more time. The reason I thought I might have been asked to interview early is because typically people wouldn’t have a portfolio for this kind of position, but I mentioned on my application that I happened to have a website with my online portfolio, so maybe they thought “Well, she would probably need less prep time.”

    1. Not So NewReader*

      If anything, I would think that their impressions would be skewed in your favor because they realize you had the least amount of time to prep.

  13. Argh!*

    #3 – this should be coverable under FMLA.

    I used to take time off for this reason until things got so bad I became anemic and was diagnosed with adenomyosis, a form of endometriosis. Since I don’t want children, hormones were the answer and my life has totally turned around. I second the advice to get a specialist opinion on this. You shouldn’t have to suffer.

  14. the_scientist*

    Regarding number 1, I’m very curious as to what “aggressive” and “confrontational” means in this context.

    I ask because I have attended conferences that are……..aggressively sales-y. As a scientist, I find these conferences irritating because nobody is willing to acknowledge flaws in whatever product, plan or service they are selling. Certainly, at these conferences, I make a point of asking about actual data, and of asking whether the speaker addressed known gaps/concerns in their work. I’m not an asshole about it, by any means, but I’m not just going to smile and nod either, and that could absolutely be read as “aggression” by someone who doesn’t want to answer difficult questions. I should also note that because I’m employed in a scientific capacity, it *is* sort of my job to ask those questions. Maybe OP1’s coworker is having trouble adjusting to a more “sales-y” style of conference? Either way, I don’t think it’s the OP’s place to say anything, unfortunately. If the coworker is acting in a way that’s out of step with the culture of the field, and with his role as a representative of their organization, he’s going to develop a reputation.

    1. LQ*

      I also wonder if this is happening in a big Q&A at the end of a session or in a more one on one setting. Everyone hearing your coworker stand up and say “I’m Joe from Chocolate Teapots Inc and I think your whole session was bunk!” is different from after over hearing Joe say the same thing in a one on one conversation after.

      I agree that I want to know more about what aggressive and confrontational means. I’ve asked questions that are “I’m sorry, I’m having a really hard time following this, can you go back to X.” and been told that was too confrontational because of the nature of the conference.

      I’m entirely with you about asking for actual data and I wouldn’t say it was confrontational, but I can see how some people would absolutely say it was.

    2. Mike C.*

      I’m with you 110% here. There are few things that irritate me more than being treated as if I’m an idiot. Jeez, I remember almost yelling at some dude demoing a blender at a Costco once because he was claiming that the strawberries he was adding to a smoothie “helped cure cancer”.

      1. LQ*

        I’m going to go blubbery rage into the corner.

        (Also strawberries are DELICIOUS you don’t need more of a reason then look, tasty strawberries. GAH!)

        1. Julia*

          I just read that as “blueberry rage” and thought, wow, someone takes his berries really seriously.

      2. Kyrielle*


        Uh, well…hmm. Strawberries have calories, and we kind of need those, and it’s really hard to cure someone’s cancer if they’ve died of starvation first, so…sure, strawberries help cure cancer.

        Hey! That means triple cheeseburgers *also* help cure cancer….

        (I’d rather eat the strawberries. Yum!)

  15. The Other Dawn*

    RE: #1

    “His comments and questions to speakers and other attendees came across as very challenging and confrontational.”

    Was this a universal perception, or just the OP’s perception? I’m not clear on that. As others have said, maybe it’s his first conference and he isn’t aware of his tone. Or maybe he’s just very direct in his questioning, so as to get at the heart of the matter and make sure he’s truly understands. Or maybe he’s one of those relentless question-askers. Without additional information or examples, there’s no way to know.

    1. Windchime*

      I’ve been to conferences and trainings where I’ve encountered a certain type of people who like to challenge the instructor or speaker. One woman in particular stands out; we were at a training for a complex computer system and she would ask “questions” that were clearly intended to show off her knowledge to the rest of the class. She would start out by saying, “Isn’t it true that [ things that I think I know that the rest of the class doesn’t]”. It was really annoying and disruptive to the rest of the class.

      1. Kelly L.*

        Yep. “I have a question” followed by a 10-minute lecture that is not actually a question. I know it well.

        1. The Other Dawn*

          So do I. Luckily I don’t typically encounter those people often. And the one I did encounter frequently moved on to another field, so he doesn’t go to the seminars anymore.

        2. Mallory Janis Ian*

          Yeah; I used to be so naive as to actually listen for ten minutes trying to pick out what, exactly, the question was. I’ve since learned to recognize what’s happening pretty much immediately.

      2. Murphy*

        Yup, this happens a lot in public service with new employees. The norms are different than school (at least in my field, new people often come right from University and grad school). It’s cringe inducing to watch and never, ever makes a good impression.

  16. Mona Lisa*

    Oh, #2, I so feel you. I remember once saying that I liked and followed my hometown sports team, and the guy to whom I said it responded, “Oh, yeah? Prove you’re not a bandwagon fan by listing at least 5 other team members who aren’t the famous QB.” I shouldn’t need to prove my level of commitment to him or anyone else. It reminds me of a tweet I saw the other day:

    “boy: i wished girls liked sports
    girl: i like sports
    boy: oh yeah name the blood type of the seahawks coach from the 1990s”

    Women can’t be interested in anything men are (sports, video games, sci-fi, etc.) without being an expert in it apparently. I think Alison’s advice is spot on, and if you’re interested in the bracket, speak up! I hope you end up winning their money!

    1. Allison*

      Ugh, gatekeeping . . .

      This is a big reason why I shy away from identifying as a sports fan. I didn’t like sports growing up, and I got into them in college, especially hockey, but I always worried that if I even tried to *become* a fan I’d get that condescending chuckle followed by some sort of challenge to my fan status. You know, to prove I’m not just doing it for attention or something.

      I also deal with this as a fan of anime, video games, and comics. Gatekeeping doesn’t just keep out posers in it for the wrong reasons, it keeps out people with genuine interest because they worry about how they’ll be treated if they get too close.

      I recently started dating a guy who’s both into sports and geeky stuff like comics and video games, and while it’s obvious he knows more about it than I am, he’s been extremely respectful of me and hasn’t tried to write me off as “not a real fan” because I don’t know something, or haven’t seen a specific movie or read a certain comic series. It’s been pretty damn awesome.

      1. Kelly L.*


        My boyfriend knows I don’t know as much about old-school SF as I do, but he also knows I can give him an hour of backstory for everything on Game of Thrones, so it works out. ;)

      2. New Girl*

        I got my boyfriend into baseball. We were on the train coming home. Another man on the train start asking us about the game. Every time I responded he would look past me to my boyfriend to get input. I was actually embarrassed because my boyfriend had no idea what he was talking about. It was beyond annoying.

        1. Myrin*

          OMG! How did the story end? Did the other guy catch on that your boyfriend had no clue? Or did he just walk away still thinking it was you who didn’t know anything?

          1. New Girl*

            I pretty much took myself out of the conversation, sat back and listened. I figured there was no point in “proving myself” to a man I would never see again.

      3. Myrin*

        And what is even the goal of gatekeeping anyway? Like, my god, why do you care so much if someone doesn’t know as much about Thing as you do? If it annoys you because you have to explain everything to them and can’t really talk about what you want to talk about then maybe… don’t talk with that person about Thing? It’s that simple?

        1. The Cosmic Avenger*

          It’s about 1) establishing your identity as X, and (constantly and loudly) proving you are a better X than others, and 2) participating in a subculture to reinforce that identity and give a feeling of belonging; when your identity is dependent on “us vs. them”, you are constantly trying to define those groups. Excluding people makes being part of that group more valuable in some peoples’ minds.

          /end sociologist mode

          1. anonderella*

            Heh, glad to see someone else’s sociologist senses are tingling with these comments.

        2. Kate M*

          I think gatekeeping can have a few different purposes. I’ve heard it said that in the geek/fandom communities, guys have built up this idea that if a girl doesn’t date him, it’s because he’s a geek, so she just doesn’t get it. If a girl actually likes geeky things, then that disrupts the narrative he’s built. He might have to admit to himself that a girl doesn’t like him because he’s an asshole/socially inept/for other reasons he might be able to control.

          For sports…I don’t know, maybe just an ownership type of thing? Sports=masculine so if a girl is good at or better than him at sports it undermines his masculinity? I don’t know it’s so weird to me.

          1. Lily Evans*

            Or, even better, the guys who think there are “fake geek girls” who pretend to like “guy things” just so they can get with the guys who like the thing. And then they somehow think women will still like them after they accuse them of being “fake” and relentlessly grill them about the thing. It just doesn’t even make sense.

            1. Former Borders Refugee*

              “Well, she’s a Fake Geek, so it doesn’t matter, because I don’t wanna bang her anyway” is how they console themselves when women don’t find their gatekeeping charming and adorable and completely irresistible.

              1. Lily Evans*

                Ugh. I mean I guess at the very least they make it easy for women to self-select out of any potential relationship?

                1. Lily Evans*

                  And by easy I meant time-frame wise. IME actually getting away from men like this once you’ve drawn their attention isn’t so easy.

          2. Ms. Didymus*

            I know a guy like this. We aren’t friends, really, we just talk sometimes. I have to limit it because he is horrible.

            He wants this really specific kind of woman, and he will never compromise and when these women (who are in high demand, I am sure) don’t come running it is always because they are “brainwashed by society” or “don’t exist around him” or whatever. It is never the fact that he is unemployed, rude as hell, sexist and doesn’t really take care of himself. Nope, none of that.

        3. Allison*

          In some cases, there are concerns that resources are scarce and a fandom only has “room” for so many people. If something you like becomes popular, suddenly it becomes harder to get a ticket to this movie or that game, or that convention you want to attend, or a seat at that panel, you name it. People worry that people who aren’t “real fans” will edge them out of what’s rightfully theirs. At a crowded event, some have the impulse to convince themselves that a bunch of the people taking up space shouldn’t be there.

          In addition, when it comes to nerdy stuff anyway, some think it’s unfair that they were bullied for liking nerdy stuff when they were younger, and now it seems like the very people who bullied them are not only getting in on the action but acting like they’re now cool for liking it.

          1. Kate M*

            Or they like the fact that it’s popular now, because it means they get to bully others in the way they may have been bullied. Somehow, though, I’ve only ever seen women quizzed about their interest in this stuff. When a guy says he’s a fan, most people believe him.

            So if it were just being mad that they were bullied when they were younger, it seems like guys new to the fandom would get the same scrutiny, which they don’t.

          2. Student*

            I really cannot possibly see that being the true motivation. These same guys gleefully try to persuade male friends to like the same thing.

            It’s sexism. Gate-keeping is sexism. The geek culture stuff is a tree-house, and gate-keeping is the “No Girls Allowed” sign. There’s no logical justification for it, any more than there was for racists requiring blacks to use a different entrance to a building or sit in the back of a bus. It’s to express dominance and to intimidate and to show you that you aren’t welcome.

            And every single time someone comes up with strange logical pretzels to justify it as something else, , it gets that much harder for people like the OP to confront people about sexist behavior.

      4. Ad Astra*

        I had a similar expericence, getting into sports as a young adult instead of as a kid. Generally, that means my historic knowledge of sports isn’t great, and my understanding of detailed rules and strategy is a little more limited than someone who’s spent a lifetime playing or watching sports. I’m usually upfront about that, and I tend not to argue about officiating or criticize play calling, and that’s usually enough to protect me from sexist BS. Working in a newspaper sports department for a few years also taught me a lot and gives me a little more street cred than I probably deserve.

        It’s getting easier and easier to tell gatekeepers to eff off, but it’d be better if people just, y’know, stopped acting that way.

      5. R Adkins*

        It still amazes me how much I see this happen. I have always been a sci-fi fan (we even had X-Files parties in high school to watch each new episode), played video games, read comics, etc. However, the first time I went with my husband to his comic book store, I was stared at by every single person in there. He finally had to tell them I was his wife and a comic fan — and cue the quizzing. My husband looked so proud as I rattled off answers and ended with — and now I am going to browse. They don’t treat me like that now, but it was a long time before I was treated the same way as the “rest of the guys.” And my husband gave the side eye to many, many people during the adjustment lol.

      6. Countess Boochie Flagrante*

        Ugh, gatekeeping. Back in January, I was chatting at the airport with a couple other women about Star Wars, and noticed there was this guy hanging in the background and every time I brought out a semi-rare bit of trivia (ie ‘Starkiller Base’ being a nod back to early drafts where the hero was going to be Annikin Starkiller) he would give this little nod like a teacher confirming a student has given the right answer. He never joined the conversation, but it was so weird.

    2. Anon Moose*

      I’ve actually come to the conclusion that lots of guys like that would like to date a woman who is *open* to being interested in “X guy thing” but actually knows almost nothing about it so that they can explain it to her (condescendingly, naturally) and “teach her all they know.” As if a person already interested in the stuff (or god forbid, more knowledgeable than you- oh, wait they don’t think that’s possible) is not as desirable.

      1. Allison*

        Yup yup yup! It’s great to be interested in The Thing, but we mustn’t intimidate the men or make them feel emasculated. We should let them “be men” by assuming the role of The Educator.

      2. Elizabeth West*

        I think you’re right. I actually like being around someone who knows more about a thing I’m somewhat interested in–it’s nice to have that when you’re getting to know someone, IF it’s sincere. My ex is a huge gamer, and he helped me get started in console gaming (I didn’t really do it before since I didn’t have a console). I liked watching him play stuff and would often play with him coaching. Or if I got stuck, I’d hand him the controller. But he was NEVER condescending about it, not once.

        It’s too bad more men can’t be like him in that way. But this was also a guy who has a TON of women friends. Now, when I meet someone, I look at the percentage of women in his life–if it’s all men and he has no women friends, then I’m going to hesitate a little.

        1. Lily Evans*

          Yeah, when I meet a guy with no women friends at all, I wonder what every other woman has seen in him that I’m not seeing yet.

    3. Maggie_Elisabeth*

      I rarely comment but came on to post that exact tweet! It’s so perfect.

    4. CM*

      As a former software engineer and computer science major in college, I have been grilled SO many times on various tech-related things. Unfortunately, I used to react to it by shutting down and basically just grunting at the person until they went away, when I would have been better off (for career purposes, anyway) submitting to the grilling and proving myself. So they thought I was dumb until I managed to impress them. Actually, you know what, they would have thought that anyway, so I guess it didn’t matter.

      I’ve heard Elizabeth Warren say that when she started teaching law schools in the ’80s, her male students would regularly challenge her. At first she would spend entire classes responding to their grilling. Then she changed her approach, and basically would terrify her class on the first day so they didn’t dare step to her.

      1. Anon Moose*

        Used to do this head off at the pass thing when I was a group leader for an outdoor sport. Right on the first day, I would demonstrate this physical feat of strength and would have much less trouble from the guys afterwards.

      2. TootsNYC*

        My friend the grad eschool teacher uses this “terrify them in the beginning, so they toe the line; you can loosen up later” tactic w/ her students.

    5. TL17*

      This is annoying when this happens. Lucky for me, I’m a huge horse racing fan, and this doesn’t happen much among racing fans. we all talk to each other pretty equally. And since its only popular with the general public about once a year, at Kentucky Derby time (in the US), I, the lady with big hats, end up being the de facto expert among my colleagues. I never do the annoying gatekeeping behavior, though. It’s just not my thing.

  17. Kelly L.*

    #1, your co-worker is That Guy. He goes to SFF conventions too. Sorry you have to deal with him.

  18. BostonKate*

    To chime in on #5: my job is literally to schedule interviews and it’s definitely about the interviewers (and candidate’s) availability. We also work with the idea that it’s better to get candidates sooner rather than later so they have a speedy interview process, rather than dragging it out.

  19. Ghost Town*

    LW #3: In my small office at a university, my coworkers (both above and below me) will call or email in saying that they aren’t feeling well, but will try to be in later/in the afternoon. From my perspective, this, in of itself, isn’t odd, isn’t a big deal, and doesn’t make me think hang-over. Admittedly, this could be because of the environment of my office.

    Alison’s advice is great, though, for heading suspicion off at the pass. And there’s no need to cite your specific medical reasons.

    I hope working with your doctors goes well, and wish you alleviation from the cramps!

  20. Corporate Drone*

    #1, if you are in the United States, sports betting is illegal in most states anyway. At my previous employer, HR sent out a memo stating that it was not appropriate to use company email for distributing information on things like discounted tickets to the theater, opera, or museums. A few weeks later, the guy who ran the annual March Madness pool sent out his email, copying the division president. Silence from HR. So I asked why THAT was deemed an appropriate use of company email, when gambling on sports is illegal in New York. I got a flim-flam answer, but he was told to knock it off.

    Gee, I *wonder* what the difference could possibly be.

    1. Megs*

      Fantasy sports are generally explicitly exempted from laws against gambling, however. The big controversy over Draft Kings/Fan Duel is that they stepped over the line from appropriate fantasy sports (seen as a game of skill) and into gambling (game of chance) by moving to a short-term gaming model from a season-long one. The distinction is pretty flimsy, but it’s likely why March Madness flys under the radar.

      1. neverjaunty*

        Opera tickets aren’t illegal, either. The point was that the rules about appropriate email use suddenly got relaxed when it was a thing all the dudes liked.

  21. Corporate Drone*

    #2, if you are in the United States, sports betting is illegal in most states anyway. At my previous employer, HR sent out a memo stating that it was not appropriate to use company email for distributing information on things like discounted tickets to the theater, opera, or museums. A few weeks later, the guy who ran the annual March Madness pool sent out his email, copying the division president. Silence from HR. So I asked why THAT was deemed an appropriate use of company email, when gambling on sports is illegal in New York. I got a flim-flam answer, but he was told to knock it off.

    Gee, I *wonder* what the difference could possibly be.

    1. Anon Moose*

      Erm, I think that the law might carve out exceptions for fantasy sports stuff? I thought that was the loophole the same-day fantasy leagues that have grown in popularity were using.

        1. Megs*

          Looks like someone double-posted and I responded to the earlier one! John Oliver did a bit on the daily fantasy sites as well. It’s a fascinating example of legislators trying to make an exception for something specific and companies taking that exemption and running as far as they can with it.

  22. Purple Jello*

    #2 – As soon as you overhear them talking about the pool: “Wait! there’s a pool for Euro 2016? How do I get in?”
    After a couple of times, they’ll start asking you.

    1. Jill*

      This – just make it a natural interjection into their conversation. Now, if it was me, I’d do the sports fan thing and start talking a little smack in order to persuade them. So when you say, “I’d like in on that bet” and you get the funny or reluctant looks, just fire back in a smart alecky tone with, “What? You afraid to lose to a girl?” Or “What? You afraid a girl will make a smarter bet than you?”

      Make it competitive – as sporty things tend to be – and it won’t be perceived as anything but.

      1. Spills*

        Don’t think this is the best solution, as it only reinforces stereotypes that girls are inferior, and that it would be embarrassing to lose to a girl. Why is that so embarrassing? I hate that the worst thing that you can be compared to is a girl. I think the goal should be to draw their attention to it, in a way that does not further put down or alienate women, but instead creates a more inclusive, aware environment that is not putting down one sex or the other.

  23. animaniactoo*

    #1, You could approach this as a fishing expedition before making up your mind if you want to take the risk

    “Have been to a lot of networking conferences before?”

    “Yes” probably = Keep mouth shut because if he hasn’t been able to pick up that his tone is out of place for how *everybody else* is conducting themselves, it’s unlikely that he’ll have a magic lightbulb moment and change his ways when you mention it.

    “No” probably = “I’ve been to a few of these now, and my experience is that the tone is not nearly as aggressive as academic conferences, and if you’re not aware I just wanted to give you a head’s up on that.”

  24. Recruit-o-Rama*

    I work in an extremely male dominated industry- almost every single one of my co-workers is a man. I am also a gigantic, huge, fanatical lover of football. I am the commissioner of a FF league and I know my stuff. If there were a pool I wanted to get into and I wasn’t invited, I’d just ask to join. It’s probably true that they assume you’re not interested because you’re a woman and that is…in enlightened… and it may even be true that they are sexist jerks. But, it could be true that they are ignorantly, unintentionally sexist and that they would be happy to have you in the pool if you just ask to join. Being ignorant to an issue is not the same thing as just being an ass and I always give people the benefit of the doubt until they prove otherwise.

    My co-workers are now so accustomed to my sport minded demeanor that they actively seek me out for these discussions, but it didn’t just happen because they suddenly became enlightened, it happened because I spoke up. Believe me when I tell you that this is an old school spit on the ground, swear in the interview boys club kind of industry, so I feel where you’re coming from. I just think there may be a straight forward simple solution.

    Good luck!

    1. neverjaunty*

      OP said, explicitly, that this is only one incident where she’s treated differently than her male colleagues. And she also said, explicitly, that she was ‘grilled’ about her sports knowledge when she first said she was a fan.

      I really don’t get why so many commenters are eager to handwave this as ‘oh, they probably were just making an honest mistake’.

      1. Recruit-o-Rama*

        I acknowledge that they may be sexist jerks, I also gave my experiences and advice with good will. The OP can take it or leave it. As a woman in a male dominated industry, I will feel free to approach institutionalize sexism in any way I see fit. Please don’t put words in my mouth, I didn’t say that they didn’t treat her differently because she is a woman, I just explained how I would approach it. She asked for advice, no?

        1. neverjaunty*

          No. That is, she didn’t ask “how do I get in the betting pool”, she asked whether she was right to feel annoyed about being excluded and whether she should say something. She didn’t even say that she wanted to be part of the betting pool. (As somebody noted in another comment, ‘fan of sports’ and ‘eager to participate in sports betting at work’ are not necessarily synonymous.)

          More importantly, the issue here isn’t that they’d be thrilled to have her in the pool but they just forgot she might be interested; it’s that the OP has observed more than one instance of it being exclusionary (including her hiring) and that they are very, very publicly excluding her, whilerepeatedly trying to include the guys who are not interested in sports.

          It wasn’t my intention to put words in your mouth. It was, however, my intention to point out that a lot of people seem to be ignoring most of what OP said and bending over backward to ‘give them the benefit of the doubt’ for extremely dubious reasons.

          1. Recruit-o-Rama*

            You know, anyone has a “right” to be annoyed by any thing that annoys them. Sometimes finding ways to alleviate the source of the annoyance makes it a moot point. A lot of really nice guys have no idea that they are acting sexist. That’s the nature of institutionalized sexism. One can be annoyed and wait for them to come to this realization themselves of one can take matters into their own hands and try to change the culture. I have no idea if her co-workers are intentional sexist jerks or if they are simply acting the way our culture has trained them to act. You don’t know either, actually. They sure sound like they’ve done some things to make the OP uncomfortable and am 100% empathetic about that.

            Further, not to nitpick, but since you quoted her, I’ll do the same. She did in fact ask if she has the right to be annoyed, but she ALSO asked if Alison had some suggestions on how to bring it up and specifically said “any advice?” I offered her advice based on my own similar experiences.

            Sexism is a thing, it’s real. In addition to talking football with my team, I also have responsibility to coach and train them on their hiring practices. Since I have built a lot of trust a rapport with them, I CAN and HAVE called them out when they are acting out of bounds. I choose to do it in such a way that is not confrontational AND doesn’t just assume they are jerks, but rather I give them the benefit of the doubt until they prove otherwise. You may choose to see things and/or approach things differently, but you don’t get to tell me that my perspective is incorrect or that I have dismissed the OP because I gave her my view instead of one that you approve of.

      1. An Average Guy*

        Personally I didn’t fine this thread too bad and I certainly didn’t think there was anything that made me as a man feel unwelcome to participate.

        However seeing things like this posted is annoying and seems to not be met with any objection:

        If I had posted the same question but replaced men and harassers with say Muslims and terrorists I’d expect to (quite rightly ) be called out on that level of ignorance, and told not to group them all together or judge the whole group by the actions of a minority.

        Even in this comment thread I’m a Little Teapot commented to say “YES. We [women] are not a hivemind.” Yet when it comes to talking about men it seems that we don’t get that basic level of respect and consideration to be treated individually that other groups get.

        There are some other posts where men have been given a hard time in the comments such as:

        The letter writer who was asking about her or a friend having to share a beach house with a group of guys and a someone commented to say they were right to be concerned in case the guys were rapists, despite there being nothing in the letter to suggest that was a concern and I think it’s very damaging to everyone to perpetuate the idea that someone is a threat just because they are a man, and you even chimed in to support that view.

        Another letter that comes to mind is a short answer post where someone wrote in for advice about seeing their co-worker with their ex who they had a restraining order against. I think it was Dan who was sharing some of his personal experience being a victim when someone tried to dismiss his experience just because he was a man. (to be fair this was shut down very quickly)

        Not that these comments are especially bad but it’s a general tone and attitude I see in the comments sometimes that its fair came to bash men for no other reason than they are men, and it’s in stark contrast to the way other groups are treated on this blog.

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          Hmmm. In the thread you linked to from this weekend’s open thread, that’s someone asking about sexism in general, not saying all men are guilty of what she’s describing. Sexism and the behaviors she described do exist — acknowledging that and asking about how to deal with it and where it’s coming from isn’t grouping all men together. Which part in particular bothered you?

          In the beach house letter, I admittedly may be remembering it wrong, but I don’t think anyone suggested all men are rapists, but rather that the person was entitled to have concerns about her safety when staying in a house with men she doesn’t know well.

          1. An Average Guy*

            The link from this weeks thread is asking men to explain the sexism that exists. My objection to being asked to explain sexism is I have no part in it , no control over it and have never participated in it, I literally have no idea why people cat call or grope women. Men are not a hive mind and its not reasonable to expect that just because I am a man I can speak for those that behave in this way, in the same way I wouldn’t ask an average Muslim to explain ISIS.

            With the beach house letter not all men were branded rapists but the comment was made that because they were men they might rape the only woman there, again I don’t think it is OK to view those co-workers with suspicion and mistrust just because they are men.

            1. Ask a Manager* Post author

              I don’t think she’s demanding that men with nothing to say on the topic explain it to her — just asking for a male perspective on the topic from anyone interested in talking with her about it.

              1. An Average Guy*

                I didn’t read it as demanding, but it still lumps men together and expects the none harassers to have some insight into why some guys feel entitled to harass women.

    1. Myrin*

      I’m pretty sure I can tell where you as a guy would get that idea but I do want to point out that some of the most well-regarded commenters who others regularly react very positively to – like LBK or Mike C. – are, in fact, men.

    2. E, F and G*

      I am sorry to hear someone say that, I have found this site to be a great source of information.

      Having just finished reading through all the comments though, I can see where the comment comes from. This comment chain comes across as a little harsh. And Myrin makes a good point that in the realms of the most consistent commenters are some great male voices.

      I would also like to point out that I have found comment chains to fall into two major categories on this site, one being advice where people chime in with real world advice. The other is commiseration of a sort – where there isn’t a huge amount of advice but a lot of people adding in examples or running of on mostly related side tangents.

      This post would probably falls into the second category. There is a minimal amount of actual advice from the commenters but a lot of helpful examples. And as Daisy said in a June 2 comment, “People like things where they can weigh in with personal experience.”

      There are many strong female voices on this site and many of them have faced sexism through the years. I think this is where the general feel of the site comes into play. A long standing trend in Alison’s replies to people are that if they are having a problem with a coworker, often the best thing to do is talk to them. And so for many consistent readers the question becomes not what do I do about a situation but what do I say and how do I say it. This can lead to people who think through everything they say here, and for the most part that isn’t a bad thing.

      But as with question Question 1 there are definitely different styles sometimes. I would even hazard to say that if a person is willing to defend their position and listen (and actually listen) to what is being said back they are more than welcome in the comment section anytime.

      But now that I’ve rambled on can I join AAM in asking are there other things going on that make you feel unwelcome?

      1. Recruit-o-Rama*

        This is a very good summary. I am a long time reader and only recent commenter and what I have noticed is that there is a small core group who are very vocal and if you sort of step out of line with an opinion that doesn’t agree with the accepted norm, they feel very very free to tell you are wrong, almost chastising you like you are a child. It can be hard to have a real honest discussion about certain topics because it is “not acceptable” to see things differently than they do. Sexism is one of those topics.

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          Hmmm, I think people disagree pretty civilly here all the time, on all sorts of topics! When it happens to be about something like sexism, it’s of course more charged, and so maybe that stands out more. And naturally, it’s more uncomfortable for people to hear that something they’re saying sounds sexist than to hear that their advice on say, getting an MBA sounds off. But those are still important conversations to have, even when they’re uncomfortable, and I’m glad we can have them here. They certainly don’t mean that men are unwelcome here, any more than talking about racism means that white people are unwelcome here.

          1. Recruit-o-Rama*

            I agree that the conversations are generally civil, even when heated. I also feel like there is a definitive clique of “cool kids” who really nitpick other people’s responses and since several other people in this thread have expressed a similar feeling, I am not the only one that feels it. Sometimes I type out a reply to certain topics or questions and then just erase them before posting because I don’t really feel like getting into a semantics debate if I don’t word it exactly right. I purposely skipped over all of the heated discussions in THIS topic and gave, what I thought was an opinion and advice to the OP that was related to my own experience and was accused of dismissing her concerns. I AM a professional woman in the work place, I can feel anyway I want to feel about sexism, even if some people don’t agree with me, its not ok to call my feelings and concerns wrong. It’s not a major issue really, but when I saw someone else post about feeling unwelcome, I felt a certain amount of agreement with it and decided to add my plus one feeling so that they would know that I understood where they are coming from. I still very much love this site and especially the comments section, but this is how I feel.

  25. Anon Y Mouse*

    #1 is a great reminder of why I’m glad to be working in industry. Making yourself look good by humiliating someone else is typical behavior for academics in my field (chemistry). That co-worker sounds like most of my grad school classmates and professors.

Comments are closed.