we got weight loss tips for Women’s History Month, interviewer thought I was lying, and more

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

1. We got weight loss tips for Women’s History Month

This happened months ago but it’s still bugging me. I work for a large corporation that promotes diversity in the workplace. In celebration of Women’s History Month, we received an email with info on women’s health issues .. with tips like maintain a healthy weight, lose weight, having a thick waist ups your risk of stroke, consume less sugar and fat, and don’t smoke. There’s also information that women are more likely to experience urinary tract problems due to the way the female urinary tract is structured.

Am I wrong in thinking … WTF??? I can’t recall ever seeing an email with info about my male coworker’s urinary tract. Or suggestions that my male coworkers lose weight, eat less sugar, etc. How does this celebrate diversity? This whole thing feels really tone-deaf. I want to say something, but then I stop and ask if I’m overreacting. I need perspective, please.

You are not overreacting. Observing Women’s History Month by talking about diet and weight (and urinary tracts — WTF?) is bizarre and frankly kind of insulting. They would have been better off doing nothing! How about donating to a women-focused charity, seeking out women-owned businesses for your vendors, sending women on staff to leadership events, doing a pay equity analysis and releasing the info, and/or designing and implementing family-friendly policies around things like flex time and parental leave? “Eat less fat” isn’t it.

2. I think my interviewer thought I was lying about my degree

I had a very bad interview experience the other day. I am currently seeking a better opportunity for myself while working from home. I’m in my late 20s and I have been at my current job for two years. Unfortunately, the money isn’t good and I don’t enjoy the job either. The good news is that I just completed my second bachelor’s in business administration in May. Previously I received my B.A. in psychology. When I was updating my resume, I only included my business degree.

This brings me to the awkward moment of my interview call. I have been having severe connection issues during the entire period that I have been working from home. I was on a phone screen with a recruiter at a company in my industry. We seemed to be having a great call. She made a comment that my work history was very diverse and so I told her that my degree was in psychology and I worked at a shelter but didn’t feel it was my calling. Then there was this absolute silence (from her being confused about my major) and we lost the connection. I tried calling her back but it said “call failed.” About one hour later, the internet was restored and I opened my email only to find a rejection letter.

Because second degrees are a bit rare, I’m sure she thought I was lying about my background and presumed I hung up after realizing I was caught up in a lie. The rejection email said I don’t have the “qualifications and background needed,” which is not true. I haven’t sent her a follow-up or thank-you email but now I am wondering if I should reach out and explain the situation. Would you recommend I reach out to her and explain?

Yes. It might not change her decision, but you have nothing to lose by trying. I would say, “Thank you so much for your time talking with me. Our call was disconnected while we were still speaking — my service went down for an hour at the worst possible time! — so I didn’t get a chance to explain that while my resume lists my recent business degree, it doesn’t list my earlier bachelor’s degree in psychology from NYU (received in 2007). I think I may have introduced some confusion by referencing the psychology degree without explaining it’s not on my resume — and then we got cut off before I could. I realize you likely have many qualified candidates, but if this affects your assessment of my qualifications, I’d love to keep talking. If not, I wish you all the best in filling the role and with the work you’re doing. I appreciate your time!”

For what it’s worth, it’s possible that she didn’t think you were lying but tried to call you back, couldn’t reach you, rejected you for other reasons, and moved on. It’s still worth clarifying — it won’t hurt and could help — but I wouldn’t assume your interpretation is definitely what happened.

Also, any reason you don’t have the psychology degree on your resume? There might be good reason to leave it off, but if you ever bring it up in an interview, you need to quickly explain it’s not on your resume, or people are going to be confused.

3. Former boss is asking me about assignments I don’t remember receiving

I left my previous job in the midst of COVID-19 in March to start a new position halfway across the country. My boss at my previous workplace was great — very supportive, clear communicator. She assigned work, and I would complete it well. I would usually submit work on time (95% of the time). My boss was very happy to be my reference for the position I’m currently working in.

Fast forward to four months later. After months of not hearing from her, she is now emailing me (four times in the last two weeks) asking me for the file location for work that she claims she asked me to do that I never submitted. I have no recollection of her assigning this work to me. It would be out of character for me not to complete work as assigned, even on my way out the door. However, COVID-19 and moving across the country was stressful and weird. It would be out of character for me but I suppose it is possible this work was assigned to me and I didn’t do it (although I have no memory of that).

Is it unreasonable that she’s contacting me to ask where this work is four months after I left, seemingly irritated that she thinks I didn’t do what she asked? If it’s not unreasonable, what do I do? I have no access to my previous files. If she did ask me and I didn’t complete the work as assigned, I wish she could have contacted me sooner because wow I don’t remember much pre-COVID. Should I worry about my reference now around this?

It’s not unreasonable for her to ask about the location of one or two items a few months after you left in case you happened to be able to easily answer, but it’s not reasonable for her to sound irritated if you no longer remember (and four separate queries is too many).

I wouldn’t get into “hmmm, maybe I didn’t do it, it’s possible, I’m not sure” — that won’t serve either of you well! Instead, say something like, “I really wish I could help! So much has happened since I left that I don’t remember many specifics about projects I did for you before I went. I know I tried to be vigilant about getting everything done and it was really important to me to leave everything in good shape — but at this point I don’t have many of the specifics still in my head. I’m sorry I can’t help!”

As for how much to worry about it affecting your reference … it’s hard to say with certainty. If you’d always done good work and you sent me that email, I’d be inclined to just move on (figuring it was on me for not looking for the work sooner). Some managers would be more put out. If she knows for sure that she assigned it (for example, if she still has emails she sent you assigning the projects) and the work was important … well, she still should have looked for it earlier, ideally before you left! I can’t speak to how reasonable she is or whether it will affect her reference, but I can say that it shouldn’t, at least not unless there are more details than what’s here.

4. Should we offer severance to a belligerent, hostile employee?

I am a board member of a condo who recently had to fire our resident manager for a belligerent, profanity-laden outburst during a zoom board meeting. He has not been doing his job and has been suspected to be drinking or have been drunk while working (although no proof). He has gotten into heated arguments with owners. To further complicate things, our property manager has not done his job by documenting his complaints and appears to be protecting him rather than the board/owners. The property manager is pushing for some sort of severance for good will however the board is opposed to it. We feel we have a termination with cause for insubordination (lots of “F” words directed at us and calling names). What is your suggestions on whether we need to pay severance in this instance? He is talking to a lawyer regarding a possible hostile workplace or wrongful termination lawsuit.

As a general rule, it’s both kind and wise to give severance when you let someone go, because (a) it’s the right thing to do when you curtail someone’s source of income, (b) it’s likely to make your other employees feel better about the situation, and (c) you typically have the person sign a release of legal claims in exchange for the payment. The first two aren’t as compelling when you’re dealing with such egregious behavior (as opposed to, say, firing someone whose work just wasn’t up to par even though they were trying), but that release of claims is always a good idea, especially if a hostile workplace claim might have any legs. (Even if it doesn’t, you might not want to deal with the hassle of a lawsuit you expect to eventually win.)

Talk to a lawyer though. If he’s speaking with a lawyer himself, it’s likely that he’ll try to negotiate any severance you offer for a higher amount, and you should have a lawyer guiding you on your side as well.

5. Grouping jobs by functional area on your resume

I noticed that you’ve written about college career centers not being so helpful to students in their advice and how hiring managers dislike functional resumes. I have a question that combines these two things: my college career center advises students to organize their work experience on their resume by creating functional headers with experiences listed reverse chronologically below. (For example: as someone with a lot of editorial experience looking for communications jobs, I’ve been advised to create a “Communications Experience” section with my past relevant internship/job experience listed in reverse-chronological order below the heading. I also have one with “Project Management Experience.”) This format still involves listing out specific companies, positions, and dates—it’s just not lumped under one large “Work Experience” section.

Is this a new phenomenon that’s acceptable? Or just a mutation of the functional resume that still frustrates hiring managers?

That’s fine to do! The functional resumes that are awful are the ones that list skills and accomplishments without connecting them to specific jobs — just a list of things you did, without any context about when you did them or who you did them for. That makes it impossible to assess your experience in the way hiring managers want to, and looks like you’re hiding something. But what you’re describing is fine; it’s the same thing as a chronological resume, just with the jobs grouped according to subject area.

That said, I question whether it’s really serving you. It can make sense if you have a lot of varied experience and want to highlight one or two areas over the others. But if you’re a student or a recent grad, it most cases that will be unnecessary and will just make your resume a little harder to follow. If you have some specific reason to do it this way, then carry on — but if your career center is just telling everyone to do this, then ignore them.

{ 250 comments… read them below }

  1. MK*

    OP either list your psychology degree or do not talk about it, especially not casually, as you see to hane done. This just confuses people. Also, it might be confusing that you don’t list the degree, but do apparently list the jobs you had with it? If I see a businessss degree and a list of jobs in shelters, schools, therapist’s practices etc., I might assume you worked on the administrative/accounting side of the orgs.

    1. zandt*

      Yep, this. I don’t understand why OP 2 didn’t just list both degrees, especially if her work experience is more related to the psychology degree.

      1. Eliza*

        I can understand not putting it on the resume; to some people, having multiple degrees at the same level makes you look like you were a directionless perma-student. But if you think it’s at all relevant to the jobs you’re applying for, it’s probably worth putting it on there.

        1. Annony*

          I think having two degrees that are so different is different, especially when there is work experience associated with each. Having the psychology degree will help people understand her work history so she should probably include it. If she had no work experience associated with the psychology degree then I think leaving it off makes sense. My mom was in a similar situation. She was a chemist and later became an elementary school teacher. If she didn’t include her chemistry degree her work history would look very odd.

          1. Alice*

            I agree. Add the psychology degree back into your CV. Your work was not in vain. Market yourself accordingly. You can do it, OP 2! I have a degree in both business and health. I intend to use both, but may not need both for every single job I get (especially during a pandemic). Don’t hide your assets: a degree in psychology can be an excellent contribution to many work places, if you make it sound like it.

        2. irene adler*

          Yes, if it is at all relevant, include it.

          If anyone takes issue- well, maybe that should be viewed as a yellow flag.

          One interviewer asked me question after question about why I had earned this degree or that certificate. Then she would ask for each one, “so why don’t you want to work in that industry?” This seemed to be such a foreign concept for her. But it wasn’t like they were all disparate subjects. Each built on the last one: Biochem, Regulatory affairs, Quality Assurance, certified Quality Auditor, certified Quality Engineer, etc.
          I concluded that if my education is an issue, then maybe I shouldn’t work at that company.

        3. doreen*

          I wouldn’t think it indicated a directionless perma-student – with this particular combination I might wonder why a bachelor’s in business administration rather than an MBA* ( because I was admitted to an MBA program with a BS in psychology and you can even get an MBA in certain areas of psychology) but I’d wonder an awful lot more why someone didn’t mention having the degree until I said something about their work experience.

          * I was admitted to an MBA program with a BS in psychology and you can even get an MBA in certain areas of psychology.

          1. Ann O'Nemity*

            This was my though too. Why get a second degree bachelor’s degree? I don’t know if a second BS necessarily helps the OP; you don’t need a business degree to go into “business” related jobs. And if the OP felt they really needed the schooling, why not a MBA?

            1. Quickbeam*

              I went from police officer with a 4 year CJ degree to a BSN in a nursing (2nd 4 year degree). I have always listed both. And it has come in handy in many ways. It also separated me from the new grad RN pack. I can’t see why anyone would not list it.

            2. I'm just here for the comments*

              My first degree is a b.a. in biology, but I decided during school I wanted to work with people, not spend all my time in a lab or doing fieldwork, although I love the sciences. My second degree is a b.s. in Nursing, and I did it in an accelerated second-degree program (so got a second bachelor’s degree in 16 months). My biology degree has served me well when it comes to understanding the sciences in medicine, and I don’t think it’s a rare as OP thinks it is. I wasn’t ready to start pursuing master’s degrees until I knew what I wanted out of my career, and this has allowed me to work in my career so when I do go for the next degree I’ll have a much clearer vision of what I want to do.

          2. Something Something Whomp Whomp*

            Seeing that on a resume, I’d make an immediate assumption that they weren’t admissible to/competitive for an MBA program due to their GPA in the Psych degree, which is why they ended up going for another baccalaureate degree. As an employer, I probably wouldn’t care all that much despite being able to read between the lines.

        4. pancakes*

          People who think that aren’t thinking lucidly, though. People who’ve changed their mind about their career and gone back to school for a new degree may in many instances have a far greater sense of direction and purpose than people who stumble out of undergrad and stay in jobs they don’t like out of inertia. Having multiple degrees is no more reliable signifier of lack of direction than having a single degree is of having an above-average sense of purpose, and neither is necessarily directly related to the candidate’s ability to do the job. There were a handful of people in my law school class, for example, who only seemed to be there because their parents were lawyers too, and many more who were there waiting out a bad economy. Their reasons for going weren’t a measure of how good they were at research, writing, and other important skills.

        5. Anonapots*

          I’m not sure I agree. Having two degrees doesn’t make you look like a perma-student. Having a lot of time in university without a degree would definitely do that. This person could be like me and earned their 2 BAs concurrently.

    2. Zombeyonce*

      Definitely list the degree, OP! You never know when it will be a plus to a potential employer. I got hired in my first IT job mainly because of my English lit degree, which I didn’t expect at all (and it wasn’t a preference noted in the job ad). They wanted someone who could write well to help with documentation and in customer communication and that got me the job when I had no other experience, and they didn’t realize they wanted it until they saw my resume. You never know what part of your background might give you a leg up in a job search.

      1. Doctor What*

        I have two MA’s in completely different fields (I went back to school for a career change). I always list them both. I mean, I earned both of them, and if I took one off, it would make my work history look weird [I worked in both fields]. I feel like it shows I can learn new things in different areas, and I can get things done! LOL Plus, it might help you feel better about what you have on your resume and what you talk about in interviews.

    3. Lemon Zinger*

      The only reason I can think to not list the psychology degree is if it was obtained from a for-profit school. I believe it’s been discussed here that it’s better to leave those off wherever possible.

      1. kt*

        I would still include it in this case, as the OP has a degree from another school in another subject. It provides a good conversation point and still helps put work history in context.

    4. Another name*

      I agree with putting it on the resume since it puts your work history in context. There’s nothing wrong with going back to school to change careers! Tons of people do it. You are going to get questions about your work history anyway so you may as well list the degree that led you down that path.

      I like the suggestion for the follow up email. Might not change the outcome but it at least closes the loop.

    5. Mama Bear*

      A lot of people switch careers. I’d leave it on as a degree earned, but focus on the relevant skills for whatever job you are applying for. There’s really no need to hide it.

    6. Cringing 24/7*

      Yes, this – it looks like you’re trying to hide something when you purposefully omit something as monumental as a degree, then casually bring it up when it appears to be in conflict with what you actually put on your resume.

    1. Drag0nfly*

      I was mystified by that as well. I’m wondering if this a company that celebrates “Movember,” which is just November but with a focus on the types of cancer that men get, like testicular cancer and such. I remember a colleague who grew a beard that month for that reason. I don’t remember what the beard was supposed to accomplish, though.

      Excess weight is a factor in *so many* diseases and cancers that I’m assuming the weight was brought up in the context of female cancers. Support breast cancer awareness! Avoid breast cancer by losing weight, or whatever. But if they meant it in the “beach body” context that would be stupid of them.

      1. Nessun*

        The beards are used as a talking point – “Hey George, you’re looking a little scruffy, are you growing a goatee? Why no, Joan, I’m actually growing a full beard for Movember, let me tell you about donations and where they’re used to fight prostate cancer, if you have a moment?” “Hi James, what happened to that great beard you had, it was full-on! You shaved it all so suddenly, trying something new? Hiya Sunny I shaved it off in support of Movember and I’ll be growing it back all month. Can I tell you about the funds we’ve raised for charity?”, etc.

        I agree that there could have been a positive point to the items on weight loss, but even if the weight comments were meant in support of specific cancer awareness, the mail obviously wasn’t clear on that and should have been better vetted. Using that space to talk about other items like Alison’s suggestions would have been a better idea.

        1. Drag0nfly*

          Ohhh! Okay. I think you’re right. He didn’t have a beard before that month, and he mentioned Movember when I asked about the new beard.

          As for the OP, I agree the company absolutely botched whatever message they were trying to send.

        2. ZSD*

          Interesting! I never knew that Movember had a charity/cancer awareness angle. I thought it was just a month when guys grew mustaches.

          1. LifeBeforeCorona*

            We had a group of university aged men try to grow beards for Movember. Some were more successful than others. But it was good to see 20somethings being aware of prostate and testicular cancers.

          2. hbc*

            I think they switched from mustaches to beards because far fewer people are happy with how they look in a mustache.

            1. JustaTech*

              My company works on prostate cancer and I can say for a fact more of the guys in my office would do Movember if they could do beards and not just mustaches because several of them have said they feel like they look ridiculous and/or scary in a mustache.

              Prostate cancer awareness month is actually September, and Movember is a general men’s health awareness month.

      2. Beth Jacobs*

        Weight is a touchy subject and I’d avoid it at work. Everyone knows excess weight is unhealthy, so telling them that won’t help women lower their risk of cancer. There are ways workplaces can support healthy lifestyles (offering flextime, subsidising gym memberships, etc.) but this isn’t one of them.

        1. willow for now*

          Or having insurance that pays for weight loss diets, obesity assistance, things like that. I mean, they have smoking cessation programs and alcohol and drug rehab. But I need help with my weight!

        2. Keymaster of Gozer*

          It’s also a form of concern trolling when people at work decide to tell overweight employees that their health is at risk.

        3. BethDH*

          Yeah, I feel like the company should only bring it up when it is something the company is doing something about. Companies treat “building awareness” as though it’s an actual measure they’re taking and not just something most women already know. I’d feel different about this if they said “. . . And because of this, we’re giving you an extra stipend to try a new physical activity this month” or “have arranged with an outside nutritionist to do free consultations if you want one” or something.

          1. EPLawyer*

            but I still don’t get what HEALTH has to do with women’s HISTORY. If this was October and Breast Cancer Awareness month okay. But it was Women’s History Month. Why aren’t they talking about the great women of history — like Katherine Jackson, Marie Curie (and her daughter hello the only Mother-Daughter Nobel Prize winners in History), and scores of others.

            This seriously sounds like oh those silly women you know they always are concerned about their figures. Instead of you know FOCUSING ON ACCOMPLISHMENTS.

            1. kt*

              Yeah, health is fine, and a thing that we should all respect regardless of gender.

              But even people with health problems do amazing things! For Women’s History they should’ve featured Frida Kahlo (who happened to have health problems that diet does not fix) or Marie Curie as you noted (who suffered from radiation poisoning) or Madam C.J. Walker, who started her hair-care business in part because harsh products of the time caused hair loss and then became the first self-made woman millionaire in the US back in the early 1900s. How much more inspiring!!

            2. BethDH*

              It doesn’t at all! I just have a bee in my bonnet today about companies that think that making statements that are the equivalent of “here’s a big problem” are actually doing something productive.
              I do think that history is partly important for how it helps us understand current issues, so I’m not actually against there being a women’s health component since the history of women’s healthcare has a big effect on women’s current healthcare and outcomes. I think there are thoughtful and useful ways to bring that up in the workplace. Heck, I’d like it if a workplace straight up said “historically, women’s pain has been discounted when they report it. Please trust your employees that when they call out sick for headaches or cramps they really need it.” So it’s not the health content that bothers me, it’s the type & framing of the content (fat shaming?! Really?!) and the complete uselessness of the statement that I think are the worst.

              1. nona*

                Or how the history of clinical studies have large included men as subjects (women weren’t allowed! They have Schrodinger’s Baby!) and therefore everything we “know” about health and risk factors are really things we know about white men’s health.

                1. So long and thanks for all the fish*

                  The book “Invisible Women” is an excellent read on how women are left out of so much data, including medical, and many of the consequences are deadly. It makes me so mad.

                2. Lepidoptera*

                  Schrodinger’s baby and hard to track hormonal fluctuations. (sarcasm)
                  As if we don’t have handy-dandy charts of how that looks over the course of an average person’s cycle or that you can add a test in your protocol for it, or that they can be on continuous birth control and therefore control for it.

                  Also, also, nevermind that the hormones of male rodents fluctuate throughout the day especially if they get into a spat with one another since they’re housed by sex (the loser’s testosterone drops off while the winner’s testosterone shoots up). As if testosterone fluctuations don’t have any influence on the research.

                3. Tisiphone*

                  The excuses given for not studying women are exactly the reasons why we need to study more women.

          2. I wouldn't but...*

            Makes me wonder if you respond to the email with something along the lines of “I have decided I could be healthier and assumed based on this email that the company is committed to employee health (It would just be misogynistic discrimination otherwise, right?) So, can I get details on what the company will be contributing to nutritionist or personal trainer sessions, programs the company is implementing, etc.? Thanks”

          3. StrikingFalcon*

            I would be really weirded out if my workplace did this, especially for women only or associated with any kind of women’s day or month. Like it’s one thing to send out an email with “FYI here are some health and wellness benefits we offer” and include reimbursement for gyms or nutrition services, but anything that comes across as “we think you should lose weight” is inappropriate from an employer, as is anything that comes across as “women should adhere to x standard of attractiveness.” No “here’s some weight loss tips” or “here’s all the ways extra weight is unhealthy” or “we hired a personal trainer for everyone!” or “here’s some information about women’s urinary tracts.” I don’t want to think about my body at work, I want to think about work at work. I certainly don’t want to think about how my body is female, let alone have that kind of reminder be associated with an event that is supposed to be about celebrating women! It’s more than inappropriate, it’s frankly insulting.

        4. Sacred Ground*

          Whether excess weight is unhealthy isn’t the problem here. It’s unhealthy for women and men alike to be overweight. The problem here is they are making it into specifically a women’s issue which in the context of massive social pressure on women to be thin, even to the *detriment* of women’s health, is beyond tone-deaf, it’s downright sexist.

          1. Sacred Ground*

            Now I’m thinking that if they’d wanted to connect women’s history with women’s health, they could have included an essay on the history of women’s health being harmed by social pressure to meet unrealistic and unhealthy beauty standards.

          2. Cedrus Libani*

            If anything, excess weight is MORE of a health issue for men – the actual risks kick in at a lower body fat percentage and escalate faster. If you’re only concern-trolling the overweight women, your concern has nothing to do with health.

      3. HannahS*

        Even if it was in the context of cancers, an employer has no business encouraging its employees to lose weight. Wrapping it in a bow of “it’s better for your health” doesn’t change that it’s not their place. They can promote health by offering equal pay, adequate time off, healthy choices in the cafeteria or vending machines.

        1. Colette*

          Yup. Weight is really complicated, and for some people, losing weight is impossible, impractical, or just not a good idea.

          1. Quill*

            Yeah, and the majority of advice about weight floating around there isn’t medically or scientifically sound, and forgets that its correlation with disease can be because it is a symptom of several diseases rather than the cause.

            1. Colette*

              And sometimes a symptom of medical care that is biased against people who weigh more than they think they should.

              1. Quill*

                Yup! Lots of “ignoring one problem until someone looses weight” just makes things worse, especially when it comes to mobility and chronic pain.

                Nobody’s going to hit their ideal weight for knee surgery when they can’t get any excercise because of their busted knee.

                1. carlie*

                  Yes – and there have been a few studies showing that societal attitudes play a potentially big role in that correlation. Overweight people who feel bad don’t go to the doctor because they know they’re going to be lectured on their weight, when they do eventaully go their symptoms are dismissed as “you just need to lose weight”, and then finally oops, stage 4 cancer gets detected because nobody bothered to check for it before. There haven’t been enough studies to know how much that is biasing overweight=disease connections, but they have shown that it’s there.

      4. Jam Today*

        The beards are conversation starters and also fundraisers, particularly effective with men who are normally clean-shaven (especially during that reeeeeaaaaaaaallllllllyyyyyy awkward “growing in” stage). My cousin grows very whimsical mustaches, and the ‘sponsorship’ is partly us paying money to see him to look ridiculous.

    2. Zombeyonce*

      My only idea is that no one wanted to write the email so whatever group that does wellness initiatives got the task dumped on them and that why it’s all weird health advice. Still completely inappropriate. If they didn’t want to do any real research into useful information like Alison suggested, they could have at least copied and pasted some bios on famous women in history and their accomplishments.

      I really hope there’s a coupon for a discounted prostate exam in the Happy Father’s Day email they send out. It’s only fair.

      1. 10Isee*

        Why should the men get something of actual value? Be fair; send them an email telling them to lose weight and condesplaining that prostates exist.

    3. PollyQ*

      Yes, “What the Actual *******-ing ****!!!?!” was my immediate reaction.

      Also my reaction a few minutes later. I guess it’s maybe a little late now, but this is the kind of thing that someone could legitimately push back on. It’s offensive, and also a total waste of time. Is there anyone alive who doesn’t already know that “maintaining a sensible weight” is a good idea for health?

      1. Beatrice*

        And it might be too late for OP1 to bring it up out of the blue, but if there are ongoing conversations about diversity and inclusion, it would still be fine to work it in, or if they know an employee involved in that work (the way I know both the HR person who heads up those initiatives and my department’s representative who is involved), it would be fine to bring up in casual conversation still. “Hey Jane, how’s that diversity committee thing going? I’m curious, what conversations did your team have about the Women’s Day newsletter?” If they noticed and were mortified and already working on a plan to make sure the next one was better, great. If not, just share briefly that it seemed tone-deaf and pretty sexist for X reasons, and you hope the company does better next time. Done and done.

      2. Threeve*

        Right? Gosh, I had never heard that eating healthy was good for your health…SMH

        (There is ONE health tip I can think of that isn’t common knowledge, and it’s that heart attacks have very different symptoms depending on sex. Women’s History Month is not the context to share it in, though.)

        1. Rusty Shackelford*

          YES. This is good information for women. And yes, it’s not something to associate with Women’s History Month.

        2. That Girl from Quinn's House*

          February is Heart Health Month, though. So that is the appropriate time to send that around.

    4. JKP*

      I would think it involved history, not health care. Like just copy and paste bios from Wikipedia about some influential women from history if they want to be really lazy about it.

      1. Keymaster of Gozer*

        My sister’s firm did that, just sent out a bio of Annie Jump Cannon with a ‘women are awesome in STEM fields’ header.

        Lazy, but less offensive than what the OP endured!

    5. Lena Clare*

      I absolutely LOVE the wording for Alison’s answer to this letter, and now I kind of want my employers to do something dumb for Women’s History Month so I can send them that reply…

      Not really though. My employers are not terrible. They’d probably do nothing for WHM rather than something as sexist as the LW’s company.

      Every time I come onto this site I’m constantly surprised by the awful things employers think would be good ideas for their employees. People are strange.

    6. AJH*

      “This is a concrete example of the kind of patriarchal body-shaming which has held women back over the years.”

      1. Lizzo*

        Women also perpetuate this problem by shaming and policing other women’s bodies. My mother-in-law has tried to pull this crap with me, in a way that would surely be triggering for someone with an eating disorder. It’s disgusting behavior.

        1. Nobby Nobbs*

          That doesn’t make it not patriarchal, though. The patriarchy is a system that by definition includes women, since no oppressive system can exist without at least some culturally-enforced buy-in from the people it’s oppressing.

          1. Nobby Nobbs*

            Aaand I just realized my username might make that comment look mansplainy. I’m actually a woman (and not immune from enforcing the partriarchy myself on occasion, no matter how hard I try).

          2. Lizzo*

            I wasn’t arguing that it wasn’t. :-) Just pointing out (as I think you did in your second comment) that (some) women can and do perpetuate the patriarchy just as much as men.

            Sadly, women can’t work together to smash the patriarchy if we’re distracted by infighting.

        2. Amethystmoon*

          I was put on WW at age 11, and I looked like an average kid in the 80’s at that time. I was not fat at all, but my mother was a fat-phobe. In addition, I was told throughout my formative years multiple very hateful things by her, and was bullied constantly. Shaming people for being overweight does not magically make them thin. All it does is make us hate ourselves for years and then have to get therapy later.

    7. Keymaster of Gozer*

      I once had a HR person give me a weight watchers leaflet, along with “all women could do with losing some weight! It’s healthy!” during a meeting where we were discussing my recent medical leave (I have disabilities, yes I’m fat but losing weight isn’t possible).

      I was so shocked that I couldn’t say a word and for the first time in my career I just burst into tears. Not from sadness, just because there was nothing in my brain’s operating system that could cope.

      ‘All women want to be on diets/lose weight’ is a sexist trope that should have ended decades ago.

        1. Anon for this*

          Me too, body shamingis the worst. Happened to me in eifth grade when my teacher called me to her desk to advise me to lose weight. I was 12!

          1. WantonSeedStitch*

            Sympathy. I got put on Weight Watchers when I was 10. I DID overeat a lot at that time in ways that weren’t good for me, but in hindsight, that whole experience was pretty emotionally damaging to me at a crucial time in my life.

      1. Lena Clare*

        This is awful, I’m so sorry it happened. The person that did that to you is a horrible person.

      2. Pomona Sprout*

        All women could do with losing some weight? ALL women? What. The. Actual. #$%@.
        What that HR person did to you was horrible, and I am SO sorry that happened to you.

        In addition to the fact that weight is a sensitive issue for women in general and an extremely sensitive issue for many, what that person said to you was just plain factually ridiculous. ALL women could NOT “do with losing some weight.” Giving you that brochure was bad enough, but to make such an outrageous statement is the frosting on the cake.

        In addition to all the women of various sizes who don’t need to lose weight to be healthy, there are women like my 35 year old daughter, who is 4’11” and weighs around 90ish pounds wringing wet. She’s fine just as she is, but weight loss would be the opposite of healthy for her. And I can barely stand to think about how triggering that could be to someone recovering from an eating disorder. Christ on a (low fat, whole grain) cracker.

        1. Keymaster of Gozer*

          I’ve been in ‘recovery’ from anorexia for over 28 years now, although there’s no way anyone will believe me. (I know I’m fat. But telling me I have to lose weight means I’ll stop eating entirely again. Not healthy!)

          On the upside, I left that firm. Additionally I did tell them that constantly hassling me for my ‘health’ was part of the reason.

          1. irene adler*

            Glad you are out of that horrible environment.
            I’d be inclined to bring that HR person some educational material on proper HR practices, emotional intelligence (EQ) and other related topics. Then present them with “All employees-and companies- fare better with HR people who are educated in their jobs. Lead the way!”

          2. Acronyms Are Life (AAL)*

            I would believe you. People forget that anorexia messes so much with your metabolism and other major organs and systems that it can cause all sorts of issues with the ability to lose weight even if you are an ultramarathon runner and the cleanest/healthiest eater.

            Side note, I feel like the side business market has driven people to be more in your face about weight loss. Everyone’s trying to hustle Beach Body, Shakeology, all of those weight loss products. Not going to go into whether they are good/bad/pyramid schemes etc. I just see that because some people want clients they are willing to make comments about other’s appearances. Most aren’t like that, but some are, and I’m hoping they realize at some point that saying ‘hey, I noticed you’re fat, you should do something about it’ will not get them clients.

          3. Gumby*

            I do not care if you are thin, fat, middling, tall, short, greying, purpling, or anything else. What you are is ALIVE and that is a victory. Yay you!

      3. Ginger Baker*

        My grandmother, whose rapid weight loss (that she was concerned about and the doctor pooh-poohed because “don’t women like to lose weight”) signaled colon cancer, and my mother (who got Quite Annoyed at weight loss commercials when she was on chemo and dropped a dangerous amount of weight and was struggling to eat at all), and my daughter (who has some disordered eating issues that she wants not to have but just finds lots of foods Inedible in her brain)…not one could afford to lose weight. WTAF. I’m not surprised you burst into tears, I think I would have too, followed by a LOT of screaming, workplace or no. I just don’t think I could keep my shit together in the face of that. Just. Wow.

    8. Amethystmoon*

      Also, in my experience, weight loss advice only works on people who are not hypothyroid. One size does not always fit all.

      1. Jim Bob*

        I agree the newsletter shouldn’t have been sent, (especially for Women’s History Month!!! really?!) but we also can’t blame all obesity on health conditions rather than poor nutrition, or say that obesity carries no health risk. 5% of adult Americans have a thyroid condition; 70% are overweight or obese. Obesity is a major risk factor for heart disease (the #1 cause of death in this country), cancer (#2), stroke (#5), and diabetes (#7). We are literally killing ourselves with easy access to cheap junk, and this needs to be addressed at a major governmental policy level before we bankrupt Medicare, price ourselves out of private insurance, and bury millions before their time.

        How this could be addressed via policy is a separate soapbox; suffice to say the corn and dairy subsidy crowd won’t be happy. A 1/2 lb burger, large fries, and 32 oz of sugar water would not cost less than a salad in a free market.

        1. Bad fatty*

          Body weight is roughly as heritable as height, and tends to be higher in populations that have experienced famine either personally or over generations. That includes both food insecurity and the artificial famine that is dieting. Stop stigmatizing fat people! We’re not “killing ourselves,” we’re being killed by social marginalization and medical neglect.

          1. Jim Bob*

            Poor phrasing, sorry. We’re not killing ourselves, we are being harmed by poor food policy at the governmental level. However, pretending the 20th-21st century overwhelming glut of empty calories hasn’t caused the modern obesity epidemic is disingenuous.

            Famine and “fat” genetics have always been present, but ever-present corn syrup and enormous portion sizes haven’t. If it is purely a genetic issue, then what has caused the modern explosion in obesity rates?

            1. Bad fatty*

              In short, a sharp increase in artificial famine (dieting). I don’t doubt that food quality has some marginal effect, but there are also a heck of a lot more people intentionally starving themselves while actually having access to enough food, meaning they repeatedly enter a reactive eating cycle (yo-yo dieting) rather than starving to death as one might if there really were no food to be had.

              1. Jim Bob*

                Nope, thought I could let this go, but I can’t.

                American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 2013: since the 1970s, men have increased their average intake by 210 cals/day, women by 270 cals/day. Keep in mind 3500 cals adds one pound of fat.

                CA: A Cancer Journal of Clinicians, 2014: the rise in obesity rates coincided with the decrease in the relative price of food as a share of disposable income. Weight gain was similar across all social and demographic groups and geographic areas. This suggests genetics and dieting rates were not the cause.

                1. Jim Bob*

                  If one chooses not to lose weight – fine, that’s a personal choice that affects no one but the person making that choice.

                  Spreading misinformation to others that all weight loss leads to weight gain and therefore no one should ever try – this is misleading and medically harmful, both to individuals and the health care system as a whole. Harming others to bolster one’s own personal choice is not a good look.

              2. Keymaster of Gozer*

                Speaking as one with a totally destroyed metabolism due to teenage anorexia…yep. Now it doesn’t matter how little I eat, I’ll never be thin again.

                The damage that can be done is very real.

                1. Jim Bob*

                  I’m sorry that happened to you, and I’m sorry you face stigma for it.

                  However, the fact that damage can be caused by extreme diet to the point of anorexia while still developing does not mean that all forms of diet cause damage, and telling people that is misleading and harmful in the aggregate.

          2. Keymaster of Gozer*

            We don’t ‘choose to be fat’ either. I’m very tired of the shaming of something I can’t do anything about.

        2. Keymaster of Gozer*

          I sincerely hope you don’t tell these views to fat people. We’ve heard it. All of it. We can’t do anything about it usually either so it just makes people feel especially bad.

          (It’s definitely not the business of strangers, companies et al to say why someone is fat, or that they should diet, or that they must lose weight, or they must be barred from eating certain foods, or that it’s their fault if they have illnesses etc.etc.

          Want to truly help fat people? Stop shaming. Work on eliminating fatphobia in medicine (I went undiagnosed with several major illnesses because I was fat and that’s all doctors saw). Get people out of poverty. Work on equality. Egalitarian stuff)

          1. Jim Bob*

            Notice I never said anything about mentioning this to overweight people, or attacking individual people’s choices. People’s choices are their business.

            My concern is that food policy(i.e. subsidies for corn, soy, and dairy) in this country encourages obesity. There is also a wealth of misinformation regarding healthy choices that further discourages people who may wish to make those choices. People are actively discouraged from making healthy choices by certain communities; it’s frankly a “crabs in a bucket” mentality.

        3. Amethystmoon*

          You do know that difficulty losing weight via diet and exercise is a huge symptom of hypothyroid? I’ve dieted and exercised since I was 13. Still not a size 6.

            1. Jim Bob*

              Yes. My point was that that applies to 5% of the population, but is frequently used as a justification for the 70%.

              I’m not trying to say there aren’t certain edge cases where medical issues make weight loss difficult or impossible, like yours or Keymaster’s; I’m trying to say that they don’t fully explain the obesity explosion since the 1950s. For that, we have to look at government subsidies to foods with low nutritional content that make them too economically attractive.

    9. MassMatt*

      What’s the plan for next year, T-shirts that say “No fat chicks”?

      This is so wrong on so many levels. This sort of thing would make me question management’s basic competence.

  2. HiHello*

    #5 On one of my resume’s versions, I have Related Experience and Other Experience. After I got my BA, I worked for a few years, and then went back to school to get my MS. While in graduate school, I had two graduate assistantships that were unrelated to my field but still gave me other good skills. I wanted to keep them to show work continuity and include those other skills (I worked in Res Life one year and managed 13 people = leadership/management experience). But since my career/field is in tech, I waned companies to see my tech jobs first and not random Res Life

    1. HiHello*

      Oh and in a couple of years Ill get rid off that Other Experience completely. I just got out of grad school so I still wanna keep it

    2. Cedrus Libani*

      For my first decade out of school, I had a similar setup. I was Class of 2008 and had a rather entertaining early work history as a result, including a side hustle that was more impressive than anything I’d done in my field, so I wanted to put the other stuff on my resume while also signaling that I really did want to work in my field. I’ve not worked outside my field for close to a decade, so the “other” section is now gone.

    3. Guacamole Bob*

      I also went back to grad school for a Masters in Teapots after I had been working for almost a decade, and I organize my resume by Teapot Experience and Other Experience. Now that I’ve been out for a few years it’s less critical, but it was a way to make it clearer how all my experience hung together since a couple of longer stints at jobs in other industries was followed by shorter-term internships. I also had a one-sentence summary at the top, which I haven’t always felt was useful but which worked well at the time to help the reader make sense of the information.

    4. L.H. Puttgrass*

      I became a lawyer after working several jobs in tech. My resume has a “Legal Experience” section and a “Technical Experience” section. Early in my legal career, the first was fairly short and the second was longer. Now that I’ve been a lawyer almost as long as I was a techie, the “Technical Experience” section is just a list of employers, titles, and dates—if I include it at all. If the job I’m applying for won’t care that I have all that technical experience, I just omit that section entirely now.

    5. What's in a name?*

      That makes sense since they are unrelated categories. I am not sure that OP’s categories (communication and project management) play well to separate categories because there would likely be overlap. Without knowing specifics we can’t say for sure, but I feel there should be good separation between jobs for them to be in two different lists.

      1. NotAnotherManager!*

        I agree with this – it makes sense for career-changers (and max of two categories), but it does not make sense for recent college grads or those with only a few years of experience or by skill. It makes resumes harder to read.

        And the example provided doesn’t make sense to me because those are skills I’d expect to be reflected in the same job(s). Makes much more sense by industry or relevant/other experience.

        1. Guacamole Bob*


          It can work well when there’s a compelling reason for it and it helps the person reading the resume understand the person’s work history and how it applies to the job in question (changing careers, separating out a person’s “career” jobs from a string of second jobs in other industries, etc.). But it’s not a great idea for most people if they don’t have clear divisions in their work experience.

        2. Analytical Tree Hugger*

          The two category maximum makes a lot of sense; I was very confused by AAM’s advice, because I was envisioning a resume with several categories for experience, which I would strongly dislike reading if I was reviewing resumes (based on my limited experience with that sort of thing).

    6. That Girl from Quinn's House*

      My sister is a teacher who works in a different field over the summer, she has a similar resume for her second field. It basically says Experience in [Summer Field] and Experience/Degrees in [Regular Field] because her summer field is one where being a teacher is not necessary, but helpful experience.

    7. Alli525*

      This is exactly what I do (and I’m glad you mentioned that you have multiple versions of your resume, which is also important) – I graduated into the Great Recession so I had a lot of random jobs where I picked up a lot of random skills, so now my resume has a box at the bottom with those jobs. Some of them are big-name companies, which bolsters my cred, and it also shows employment continuity. What I’m doing now has very little to do with most of those jobs, so removing them from the main part of my resume felt like tidying up clutter.

      1. HelloHi*

        Alli525 – Exactly! Also, depending how long those jobs were, if you don’t add them, it looks like employment gaps. And while those shouldn’t matter, sadly, they do. If I were to delete those other jobs, it would look as if I did not work during grad school. And I think that being in my mid/late twenties, it would just look weird if decided to go back to grad school and not work at all. I want to be able to show that I did both, I worked and attended classes. And while the Res Life job is the furthers thing from my field, it did take care of my tuition and gave me some managing experience and other soft skills.

      2. HelloHi*

        Also, this other experience eventually goes away. I don’t include my other experience from when I was an undergrad. In a few years, I’ll probably stop including my other experience from grad school as well. For now, I already have a gap between May (grad school graduation) and now since I am still job searching. No need to make this gap even longer.

    8. #5 OP*

      Hi, OP here – thank you all for weighing in! It was helpful reading all your thoughts (and Alison’s). Based on what you’ve all said, it seems like the call for a recent grad is to not divide it by experience categories and just list everything chronologically.

      1. drpuma*

        If you’re a recent grad who did not go straight to undergrad after high school and are now zeroing in on your career path, you might be more akin to a career switcher and the functional setup could still make sense for you. But otherwise sounds like you are right on :)

  3. It's mce w*

    4. Make sure that this ex-employee has his access to the building revoked (such as key card or keylocks) and maybe consider having some kind of security or safety for you so that he can be escorted from the premise after this meeting if you think he might be a threat.

    1. Zombeyonce*

      It depends on the size of the building (a massive one could be cost-prohibitive) but if it’s possible, they should consider changing the locks or at least rekeying the main doors if they haven’t already. A belligerent ex-employee with previous access to all the keys isn’t a good mix.

    2. Sue*

      Good suggestions. You may want to consider a small severance to be rid of this guy but unless there is much more to the story, his threats of a lawsuit are pretty hollow.
      Also, you should review your contract with your property manager as it sounds like he should be replaced as well.

      1. Observer*

        Also, you should review your contract with your property manager as it sounds like he should be replaced as well.


  4. Artemesia*

    Rekeying would be a nightmare — there are about 60 units in my building and there were 150 in the one we recently moved from — that means providing multiple keys to hundreds — everyone who lives in a condo building needs a key to the building even a doorman building.

    I would be looking at a new property manager. Some property managers really do lose sight of whom they work for. We had one in our former building who sent out whiny letters with the tone you might use with a freshman dorm at a college about minor issues. Owners were treated like renters and immature ones at that. The building manager works for the owners and the property management should work for the owners’ interests (while of course protecting the rights and interests of employees). Since this man was fired not just for the unseemly outburst but for a history of poor performance, the board should feel free to decide this as they wish — with legal advice if need be.

    1. Artemesia*

      I hope the zoom meeting was recorded; it certainly should have been, but if it was organized by the property management company it may not have been. Nevertheless you have a board full of witnesses.

    2. KateM*

      Exactly what I was thinking – they should start by firing the property manager and then see what to do about the other.

    3. D'Arcy*

      This is a huge reason to use electronic fobs rather than physical keys to access common areas.

  5. phira*

    LW2: Like Alison said, I’m curious about why you’ve removed the degree from your resume. I’m all for removing things as time goes on, and I understand that if you’re not looking for work in psychology, you might consider it irrelevant (or replaced by your more recent degree). But I think it’s actually better to leave it on! You’re demonstrating that you have two (!) separate BAs, which is pretty cool and impressive.

    If you’re concerned about it becoming too much of a focal point in interviews, I don’t think that’ll be the case. My BA is in two completely separate concentrations (I double-majored) and no one has ever asked me about my Women’s Studies concentration. And it’s easier to redirect focus (“Oh, yes. After X years of working in the field, I found that I was much more interested in business. If only I’d been able to see the future, I could have just gotten my business degree the first time around! Hahaha anyway …”). Much easier than having to either keep your first BA a secret during an interview, or have to explain the situation every time if you do bring it up.

    LW5: I didn’t start grouping jobs until I’d finished my MA and was looking for specific kinds of positions, when I had somewhat varied experience (think research and teaching experience, and looking for just research jobs). Between my BA and MA, I didn’t bother and just had everything done traditionally.

    1. Mockingjay*

      Re: LW2, I can see why she left it off; she’s pursuing jobs in a different field and the psych degree is not relevant to the other field. I agree with Alison’s suggestion to simply list both; the earlier degree provides context for LW2’s work history.

      As often said here, a resume is a marketing document; it highlights selected skills, training, and experience, in order to pique an interviewer’s interest. LW2 just needs a minor tweak to hers.

      1. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

        But I think psychology absolutely is related to business! Plenty of things in a ‘pure’ business setting depend on psychology – all facets of graphic design, marketing and advertising, setting price points, personnel management. Insight and education in psychology are all tremendously useful for those.

      2. Acronyms Are Life (AAL)*

        Just wanted to say this discussion reminds me of an interview when Mayim Bialik (actress) listed the fact that she had a PhD in neuroscience on her resume under something like ‘special skills.’ And it ended up being something she leveraged during her time on the Big Bang Theory.

    2. We are still in a pandemic*

      I’ve dropped one of my bachelor’s from my main resume, because that’s valuable space that I could use to note more professional development (which is important in my field). It’s a popular degree for my Master’s, but the other one is more practical and provides more context to my job history. The one that’s dropped basically explains what I was doing for year or so. I can’t recall the last time I mentioned it in a job interview or cover letter. Though I kept it on my resume for years after I got my Master’s.

      With that being said, both are included in those dreaded job application software.

  6. Why isn’t it Friday?*

    OP4, there may be bigger issues at play, like whether the manager’s contract and the association’s gov docs even authorize a severance payment. Chances are they don’t. I would definitely speak to the association’s lawyer about this.

    And of course you need to talk to the association’s lawyer about the manager’s litigation threats. Good luck.

  7. Lady Heather*

    I’d be tempted to reply:all with links called “History of toxic female beauty standards”, “History of BMI: Never meant to measure the individual” and “The emergence of eating disorders in the 20th century: are crappy companies responsible?”

    You know. Women’s History Month and all that.

    1. Mookie*

      Yep. A comprehensive review of women’s history would be incomplete without prominent mention of disparities in medical research, development, and treatment and the erasure/stigma of gendered conditions and diseases.

    2. Quill*

      Perfect. Perhaps some peer reviewed papers about how the data of the BMI was collected from a sample population that both couldn’t be extrapolated to the wider world and in an era where nutrition overall was not great?

    3. Keymaster of Gozer*

      Ooh, I’d go for compiling that. I love searching for scientific articles.

      Anything to make them realise that their initial email sounded more like the cover of a magazine than a work related thing. (What next? ‘How to get a man!’ tips?…okay please don’t tell me any firm has ever done that)

    4. Kiwi with laser beams*

      I would totally get my dietitian on board with this. He’s an excellent ally and does an amazing rant about the science behind why diet culture sets people (read: particularly women) up to fail. (And before anyone starts crying about The Fats, I’m on medically ordered weight loss and what he says still applies to me because if I do the kind of diet culture crap that’s pushed on women, I’ll be unlikely to go into remission, let alone stay there.)

      1. 10Isee*

        Does your dietitian do telehealth? I need to lose weight for pressing medical reasons, the things I’ve tried aren’t working, and most of the advice my doctor has offered (skip meals and exercise instead!) is… not the safest plan for me as an anorexic in recovery

  8. Isa*


    Is it possible the weight-related talk came about because of all the findings relating to how being overweight/obese affects the severity of COVID-19 should you get it?

    If people in your workplace has noticeable weight issues they could be concerned this will affect how long you’re out of work (not that I think they’re actually concerned about your health, just how long you’d need sick leave).

    Although even if that was the case there’s no reason to make it a part of ‘women’s month’ (especially since all evidence points to men being more susceptible, all else being equal). I mean the information isn’t wrong per se (higher health risks etc) but this seems like a weird platform considering how sensitive the topic is (as illustrated by your reaction).

    1. Keymaster of Gozer*

      Thing is, people who are overweight know we’re overweight. It’s also darn near impossible to avoid ‘obesity increases risks of Covid’ messages. So we know this stuff, and a company reiterating it won’t change anything.

        1. Keymaster of Gozer*

          Impossible in my case! I can’t help what my medications do to me!

          Companies should give advice on things that they, as a firm, CAN help with. Stressed out employees over loved ones at risk? Inform them of WFH initiatives. People can’t afford healthy food? Supply it in the staff canteen cheaply, that sorta thing.

          But ‘lose weight!’ is out of their remit.

      1. Third or Nothing!*

        Yep. We get this crap from birth, especially women. I can’t even remember a time in my life when my mother wasn’t dieting or worried about my weight (which, by the way, has to do with my hormones and not my eating or exercise habits).

    2. ThisColumnMakesMeGratefulForMyBoss*

      II IS NEVER okay to send this type of stuff to your work force. If you want to encourage healthy behavior, you create incentives for EVERYONE. My company did this a few years ago – they paid out money for people getting health screenings, logging exercise, etc. You don’t send women information about losing weight under the guise of Women’s History Month. Those of us who need to be healthier and lose weight are well aware of that fact, and trying to pound the information into our heads is 100% not helpful.

      1. henrietta*

        from the sound of it the op is not compelled to do anything. they were just send info. if antyhing giving incentives is more intrusiv

    3. Mockingjay*

      It’s a lame-ass gesture that cost them nothing, other than the 15 seconds to google a dubious article and email it out.

    4. saddesklunch*

      I think it’s also worth noting that the majority of studies correlating higher BMI to COVID risk do not control for either race or socio-economic status, which makes data about the correlation (which, as always, is not causation) pretty unreliable. We know that COVID disproportionately affects both folks of color (because of existing health disparities, among other factors) and those in low-wage jobs who are considered essential who are more likely to be exposed and less likely to have access to healthcare or health insurance (which often leads to people waiting longer before seeking medical intervention, which then leads to worse health outcomes. Both of those groups have higher average BMIs (BMI also has a racist history AND was never meant to measure the health of individuals, it’s actually pretty interesting to read about) which then skews the data on weight as an independent risk factor.

      Furthermore, there was a recent study about how weight stigma and unequal treatment of higher weight individuals by doctors leads to worse outcomes. There was data about H1N1 that at first appeared to indicate that higher weight individuals had worse outcomes. When the researchers controlled for when doctors administered anti-virals, however, the difference in outcomes for different BMI categories disappeared. Doctors were, whether intentionally or subconsciously, administering anti-virals to higher weight people later in the course of their illness, which was leading to the worse outcomes.

      Sorry for the info dump in response to your post, I just think it’s important to point out that higher weight isn’t necessarily the COVID death sentence that media likes to make it out to be, and that there is currently no indication or evidence for the idea that losing weight lowers your risk of COVID complications.

      1. Paris Geller*

        Yeah, I am overweight, fat, plus-size, whatever you want to call it, and I had covid in July. I asked the doctor about how my weight might play a role and he wasn’t at all concerned about it. There’s been some more news that being overweight isn’t as big of a risk factor as previously thought, though of course this is a new disease and we’re still learning more about it. And like you mentioned, certain groups tend to have higher BMIs for a variety of reasons that have nothing to do with health (well, at least not directly, but as a result of economic status, race, etc.)

      2. Observer*

        Furthermore, there was a recent study about how weight stigma and unequal treatment of higher weight individuals by doctors leads to worse outcomes

        Where was this study done and published? It’s waaaay past time that these studies are being done. I would be willing to bet that pretty much anyone with a significant weight issue has experienced inappropriate medical treatment because of the weight issue.

      3. Marina*

        BMI is not the be-all and end-all of health indicators, it’s just one of them. People with BMI in the ‘healthy’ range are not necessarily healthy overall, but people with BMI above the ‘obese’ threshold are definitely not healthy.

        1. NotAnotherManager!*

          My spouse, who is over six feet tall and broad-shouldered farm stock, would have to weigh less than 200 lbs to be in the “healthy” BMI range, at which point I’d be referring him for medical testing because he’s be bony and emaciated at that weight. He falls into the obese BMI range is healthy as a horse, other than tinnitus, according to his doctors.

          BMI is an overly simplistic metric that doesn’t take enough factors into account to be meaningful.

      4. Greetings from Europe*

        This is a pandemic and the correlations between weight and other factors like socio-economic class, ethnicity, access to healthcare etc are very different in other countries outside the US but still obesity is considered a risk factor in each and every country.

    5. RebelwithMouseyHair*

      It could be covid-related, everything seems to be covid-related nowadays after all. Let’s just pause to remember which gender suffers most from covid.

    6. M_Lynn*

      I’m seriously concerned you are tracking your staff with “noticeable weight issues” (whatever that means) and are making management decisions based on your biased and incorrect assessment of their health. That is bigoted and wrong. Discrimination against fat people in employment is a significant issue in the US. Fat does not equal unhealthy-whether you are talking size 16 or size 3o.

      Plus, your idea about making calculations of how severe of a covid case is just wrong. Young, healthy people are dying. As a business, you need to prepare for a range of outcomes if your staff become sick. Playing guessing games based on people’s weight is disgusting.

    7. Observer*

      Does anyone REALLY think that people who are overweight do not KNOW it? And that they do not KNOW that it’s a health problem?

      Besides, what does it have to do with Women’s History Month? It’s not as if women’s obesity is a greater risk factor than men’s.

      Also, if I’m reading this correctly, the advice on weight was directed to every one 0 not “If more than x% of your calories come from sugar consider cutting back” but “Eat less sugar”. That’s a lot of assuming about a lot of people.

    8. Yorick*

      No, it was directed at women for women’s history month. And even so, it would be offensive and unhelpful.

  9. NYWeasel*

    LW#3: Any manager who reaches out to an employee 4 months after their last day to try to find something is clearly grasping at straws. We try not to even bother people on vacation, let alone after they are no longer employees. Her asking about it four times indicates to me that someone unexpectedly reprioritized this work and she’s scrambling to respond to them.

    If you don’t normally do this, I’ve found that creating a list of my projects and reviewing them with my boss before I’m away is a great way to align both on what I’ve prioritized, and who can cover them once I’m away. I usually schedule it a few days in advance so if my boss springs an unexpected priority on me, I have time to complete it. Then I also make sure that the people covering me know where all my work is. When I’ve had people leave my team, I usually talk with them at the start of their 2 week notice to confirm what I need them to accomplish before leaving. Then our final check in is just going over the status together.

    In this case, if you did have a review with her and this project didn’t come up, I’d probably point her back to the list as a reminder that she reviewed your final output, and then use Alison’s wording to essentially say you can’t help more than that. If you didn’t have that type of review, I’d probably try to be helpfully unhelpful by saying “my work was stored in X folder. I’m sorry, I don’t recall details of individual projects at this point.” There’s nothing to be gained by telling her you missed it (maybe you are being blamed by a lazy coworker) or that she missed it (if she’s scrambling, she just wants to solve her problem). As for future references, if I still was friendly with past coworkers, I might try to get a sense from them in a few months about how she responded overall about this situation (ie was she cursing you for weeks, or did she shrug and say “was worth a shot!”)

    1. ThisColumnMakesMeGratefulForMyBoss*

      Considering she’s contacted them 4 times in the last 2 weeks, I’m guessing she’s more on the “cursing them for weeks” side of the equation. I can barely remember what I did last week, much less 4 months ago at a job I no longer have. If she contacts OP again, they just need to say that they provided the work to boss before they left and they have no recollection of specifics. OP should feel no obligation to do anything further. And if she’s going to provide a bad reference over this, she’s unreasonable and unfortunately there’s not much you can do about it.

    2. Important Moi*

      I think you’ve glossed over LW#3’s real concern stated at the very end of the question –

      “Should I worry about my reference now around this?”

      For the concern that this may affect your reference, I think the answer is to have an actual plan to implement to provide yourself some control over this situation:

      – find other people who can vouch for your work during that time (i.e. co-workers and other stakeholders) and ask if they would mind being references for you. Keep that list handy and stay in touch with them.

      Other people realize that former bosses can choose to offer a bad reference for various reasons that are not appropriate. Other people realize that former bosses can be unreasonable and inappropriate for lots of reasons. I realize it is not a great comfort to offer that, but it is true.

      Sometimes situations feel all consuming and permanent in the moment when ultimately they are not. At some point LW#3’s former boss will not need LW#3 and the contact will stop. This was a business relationship that has come to an end.

      Finally, LW#3 is across the country in a job and with a new life. Former boss only has as much power as LW#3 gives them. LW#3 is not obligated to former boss in perpetuity because LW#3 once worked for them.

      I feel very strongly that former employees should NOT be held hostage by fear of a bad reference. It is something I had to work through myself.

      1. Nicholas*

        OP here – I have a good relationship with this former boss which is why I’m concerned about the reference part. She was generally very reasonable to me (was an enthusiastic reference for my current job) and I was generally very competent. Now my fear/thought is that I deleted the work while I was overzealously cleaning up my files before I left, which would be more in character for me than not doing the work. I took the advice to provide a pleasant “I would love to help but not sure how I can” response. She asked me to do a zoom call with my replacement to update her. I do not know what will come of this zoom call but it will be weird to have a “share screen” moment where people are clicking through network files. But I guess that’s just where we are now? I guess I could have declined to do this but it felt weird not to, even though it also feels a bit weird to do it. I like my former coworkers and I want to set up my replacement for success.

        1. Observer*

          The best thing you can do here is to give her a quick run down of how you generally filed your work so she can do some poking around herself.

        2. Important Moi*

          Ok, I see.

          In situations like this, I mentally go through every I think that could go wrong and address it. So how about this –

          Let’s say everything you mention is true. You indeed deleted the files. At your Zoom meeting there is awkwardness while clicking through network files. The specific files be sought cannot be found. So you confess to deleting them. Your replacement reports it to your former boss. Former boss tells you they will now be a bad reference for you because you deleted the files. Your replacement cannot do the job without your files and is fired. Not too long after, the company goes out of business because of your deleted files. Of course, your former boss i now s out of work too. Doesn’t that feel like too for you to be responsible for?

          It is great you like your former coworkers and you want to set up your replacement for success. The company, your former boss and your replacement will figure out something if they don’t have your files. I want to say something about boundaries, but don’t know how to phrase it…

          I still stand by everything I said. I hope you are successful in your new job.

            1. Blue Eagle*

              I would definitely NOT get on a zoom call with the replacement. Perhaps the files were accessed by someone else and moved. Or perhaps something else happened. Or perhaps they were inadvertently dropped and dragged into another file. In any event, it is NO LONGER your circus, NO LONGER your monkeys. Just say that you don’t understand why they are not in the regular place where you always put files and if they are not there then you are unable to help. And leave it at that.

              1. Ask a Manager* Post author

                Yes. The language I would use is, “I’ve racked my brain about this and if they’re not with my other files, I don’t know where they’d be, so I don’t think I’ll be able to help, especially not so many months later. Given that and because there’s so little room in my work schedule right now, I don’t think it makes sense for me to do a call with Jane. I’m sorry I can’t help!”

        3. BadWolf*

          If you can just delete important work without there being a back up, that seems like a company problem.

          Getting on a Zoom meeting and having your replacement click around sounds like torture. I hope you can timebox it, at least. Like, you have a hard stop after 30 minutes. You know, doing your real job.

        4. Lizzo*

          The success of your replacement is *not* your responsibility. Unless you are being compensated for it, training your replacement is *not* your responsibility.

          It sounds like your boss is taking advantage of your relationship with her to get you to do something she’s too lazy to do (i.e. train her employee).

          You can set boundaries with her and say no. If she is unreasonable about hearing “no”, that is completely on her, and has nothing to do with you. There will be other professional references available to you as other commenters have pointed out.

        5. TeapotNinja*

          If your employer can’t find documents related to your work after you’ve left, it’s entirely on them.

          It’s almost always a failure in implementing a proper knowledge / document management system. Those systems are there precisely for the situation your previous employer is in…making sure knowledge doesn’t leave the company with employees who choose to leave.

  10. Tamz*

    On student resumes, I used to group my professional experience together (including internships and relevant extra curricular leadership positions) and then also briefly note my paid work experience in hospitality and retail.

    I figured they would hire based on my professional skills, but the paid work history a) showed I was employable and b) showed soft skills like customer service, teamwork, punctuality etc.

  11. ThisColumnMakesMeGratefulForMyBoss*

    #4 – I’ve never heard of anyone receiving severance after being fired. Laid off yes, because that’s usually due to a reorganization of the company and elimination of some positions. But being terminated for cause? Nope. I agree about consulting with a lawyer to be prepared for any retaliation, but I wouldn’t consider a severance.

    1. (Former) HR Expat*

      I’ve given out a lot of severance payments in my career for lots of various reasons. My old company would give everyone a severance, unless it was for gross misconduct (like theft, punching someone, etc). Performance terms and layoffs always got a severance. It was a kindness to the employee, and also a legal release. They were a large corporation with big pockets, so they wanted to prevent a lot of nuisance lawsuits.

      1. Colette*

        Yeah, I know of people who got fired for cause and got severance. Not as much as if they’d been laid off, but something. And I think it’s a good idea, except in very specific circumstances (e.g. the person was fired after they were charged with embezzlement).

    2. KayKayWill*

      I was thinking the same thing! Allison – I’m wondering how common it is to offer severance to a fired employee with cause? Especially one with behavior such as his? Can you expand on this?

      1. Just My Opinion*

        It’s not all that uncommon in the corporate world. One of the main reasons is financial. Even if the company has done everything 100% by the book, lawsuits are expensive. So if you end up paying someone 4 weeks severance, you’ve potentially saved the company hundreds of thousands of dollars.

        Additionally, you have to consider the social cost – let’s say he does follow through with the hostile work environment threat – what does it cost the company if the news or social media get wind of it? Reputations are all too often won and lost on accusations.

        1. PJS*

          Exactly. We’ve done this several times when letting someone go who thought they were the victim instead of the problem. In order to get the severance, they have to sign an agreement giving up their right to sue us or to say anything disparaging about us. I guarantee that costs less than the legal fees to fight the lawsuit.

    3. Jennifer*

      I just think it’s a kind thing to do if the company can afford it, unless they were violent or did something similarly horrible, I don’t know why anyone would object to that. They are still a human being that needs to keep a roof over their head and food in the fridge. This gives them a softer place to fall.

    4. bleh*

      Sure you have, Jerry Falwell Jr. and every other top level person who gets fired.

      When I did a leadership stint, one of the books I read suggested that in upper admin you try to get it written into your contract that you get a payout whether you get pushed out for cause or no. So yeah, the big fish often get such treatment. Just not us peons.

    5. Beth Jacobs*

      I can imagine it if you’re firing someone who makes an effort but is a bad fit for the job for whatever reason. There, I think it makes sense to accept some of the responsibility for not noticing the incompatibility during the hiring process and make the firing less painful for the employee. But the dude in the question? It seems really unfair to reward his bad behaviour.

    6. Librarian1*

      I was fired from a job and got severance. I was conditional on signing a release of legal claims for like Alison mentioned in her reply. I think it’s fairly common.

  12. No Tribble At All*

    #1: FLAMES on BOTH SIDES of my face. Happy women’s history month! Remember not to get fat! Also fun fact your Confusing Lady Pee System is probably defective and making you sick!

  13. OrigCassandra*

    OP1, is there any chance that the evil thing your workplace did was targeted at someone(s)? It seems the sort of thing that might be directed cruelty.

    If so, and if the target(s) haven’t found a new job already (which I really hope they have), I might seek ways to do some ally work…

  14. Scarlet*

    Hm. Strange that Alison didn’t give any advice to OP #1, just an opinion. I’d still like to know if OP should act. I personally am on the fence about saying anything.

    1. Colette*

      Alison was asked for her opinion.

      And whether the OP should act depends on a lot of things. How respected is she in the office? How likely is it that something like this will happen again? Is this something she wants to spend her credibility on?

      (I think those questions wouldn’t have mattered as much if she’d spoken up when she first saw the email, but it’s now months later.)

    2. Generic Name*

      Yeah, I noticed that too. Although the question asked was, “am I off base?” rather than “what do I do?”

      I think it’s too late now to say anything, but if the same thing happens again next year, it might be worthwhile finding out who created the email and push back. Maybe even talk to them the month before and say you’d prefer the company not observe women’s history month at all if the only thing they can think to discuss is women’s bodies and appearance.

      1. Ray Gillette*

        Yep. Plus, the incident happened months ago. I think the time to say or do anything has passed.

      2. Scarlet*

        I love how almost every time I comment here I get a bunch of comments a bunch of comments jumping down my throat for giving an opinion.

    3. Observer*

      Allison answered the question she was asked. The OP wanted to know if she was being too sensitive or over-reacting.

      The answer is an unvarnished no. The OP did not give anywhere near enough information for sensible advice on whether to do anything about it.

    4. le beef*

      I agree that there was an implied question when the OP said, “I want to say something, but I’m not sure.” Should she say something, and if so, what?

  15. parsley*

    I format CVs for recruitment companies and I cannot tell you how much I despise functional CVs, or anything with remotely ‘quirky’ formatting. It’s my job to convert the information on a CV into a layout set by the recruiter, and there are set sections for everything – the amount of detective work I have to do with functional CVs to figure out which achievement lives where is just exhausting, and what should be a 20-minute job can take up to an hour. They shouldn’t even be called ‘functional’ because they don’t fulfil the basic function of a CV/resume, which is to clearly convey your skills and employment history. Bleh.

  16. StarHunter*

    OP 2 – Definitely list your psych degree on your resume. Understanding how people tick will be enormously helpful in dealing with them and even more so if you aspire to management. I would see this as a plus if I was hiring. Of course some jobs in business I’ve had experience as a kindergarten teacher would have been helpful too :-)

  17. The Bimmer Guy*

    “We got weight loss tips for Women’s History Month”

    Really? WTF is wrong with these people? That was the exact *wrong* thing to do for Women’s History Month

  18. ZSD*

    -I did an actual spit take reading the title for #1.

    -I’m so glad #5 was published! All this time, I thought the kind of functional resumes the letter writer is referring to were the ones Alison disliked. I’ve never heard of anyone submitting a functional resume that doesn’t link the functions to specific jobs. The clarification is helpful!

  19. LifeBeforeCorona*

    LW 4 You should also speak with the property manager and point out that failing to keep proper documentation is costing the board money and the possible impact on their (property manager) future raises and/or bonuses.

  20. insertusernamehere*

    Yeah the weight loss tips for Women’s History Month were wrong. But it also irks me when Women’s History Month turns into Mother’s Day. Everything does not have to be about “family friendly” policies and parental leave. A lot of working women are single and/or childless, by choice or not, and so many companies default to putting all the focus on “mothers” and “family” when in reality it should be celebrating all women who walk different paths.

    1. Delta Delta*

      I agree with this. Family friendly policies and parental leave are for everyone who has families, not just for women. Equating family-related policies with only women continues to perpetuate the idea that women are workplace decoration and that we really belong at home.

      1. insertusernamehere*

        And things like flex time should be for ALL employees and women, not just for women with families. Just because I’m not married doesn’t mean I want to be married to my job. It feels way too often that policies and perks that would give women a work/life balance and quality default to “family friendly” policies that are all centered around mothers and child care options.

        On women’s history month last year, my company literally posted a quote of “Do it because your kids deserve a mother they can brag about” and that they “wanted to share a special spotlight on all the amazing moms out there.” Nothing like empowering ALL women on women’s history month. Companies get this wrong all the time and end up alienating the very people they claim to celebrate. I’m not saying mothers should not be celebrated – but using women’s history month to focus on one group of people and family friendly policies that leave out a whole bunch of women happens more than you think. I actually find health tips less offensive.

        1. Nobby Nobbs*

          Didn’t you know? Only women who have fulfilled their natural, destined gender role are due equality, recognition, and work-life balance.

          (I know family-friendly policies are important specifically because the lack of them contributes to the gender wage gap, I really do, but equating motherhood with womanhood does nobody any favors.)

  21. digitalnative-ish*

    LW 1: I think you should say something. Even if it’s just asking what these health tips have to do with women’s history (answer: nothing at all). That you expected maybe a bio or two about notable women or something about the XIX Amendment anniversary (assuming you’re US).

    If you want suggestions, off the top of my head: Ida B. Wells, Ella Baker, Virginia Minor, Abigail Adams, Qiu Jin, UCAPAWA, Harriet Tubman, Seneca Falls Convention, XIX Amendment, Maya Angelou, Ada Lovelace, Mary Wollstonecraft, Mary Shelly, Phyllis Sclafley, ERA, Queen Elizabeth I

    I’ll stop now, because obviously this can go on and on and on. Apologies to the many I missed.

    1. Aria*

      And maybe they could have highlighted women in their field, like Ada Lovelace or Grace Hopper or Dorothy Vaughan if they work in CS. Or all 3!

      1. Keymaster of Gozer*

        I used to have pictures of great women in scientific history as my background wallpaper at last job. Actually made crashing to desktop a bit less stressful!

        (Usually my fault, bad code)

        1. JustaTech*

          I have a photo of Frances Oldham Kelsey (kept thalidomide out of the US market by insisting on proper safety testing) at my desk. She’s there because I really respect her, and as a reminder of why safety is the only way forward.

  22. Delta Delta*

    #1 – This makes me shudder to think what this company did in February for Black History Month.

    1. OP #1*

      Then you’ll love this. For Black History month, they planned a panel discussion to be broadcast to the entire organization. Topic – How discrimination and racial inequality have impacted my career. The entire panel…THE ENTIRE PANEL…was middle-aged white cisgender males. There was no doubt on whether to push back on that one. The resulting outcry was immediate and angry. And of course the panel plans just quietly went away.

  23. Oryx*

    For #1, I’m petty enough that I would probably suggest to HR that for Women’s History Month it might be better to focus on the accomplishments of women throughout history and offer some suggestions.

    And then I’d make sure the list exclusively featured fat women.

    1. digitalnative-ish*

      May I suggest Helen Humes? Some lyrics:
      Yes, I’m a big fat mama
      And I got the meat shakin’ on my bones
      Everytime I shake
      Some skinny woman loses her home
      Now you know I’m cool in the summer
      Warm in the fall
      Hot in the winter boys
      And that ain’t all
      In the Spring I’m fine
      I’m fine as wine
      I’m a big fat mama
      Who really loves to take her time
      I’m a big fat mama
      Who knows just what to do

    2. Kiwi with laser beams*

      I nominate Dr Siouxsie Wiles! Explains covid stuff to the NZ public, now has street art dedicated to her and also has shitty trolls on Twitter talking shit about the fact that she’s fat.

  24. voluptuousfire*

    Oof, LW #2, I firmly believe you dodged a bullet. I work in recruitment and calls can drop all the time. Did the recruiter leave you a voicemail asking to reschedule the call or to call them back? Anything outside a rejection email?!?

    Yes, there are a lot of people out of work and all of that, but you still take the time to wrap up a call properly. A recruiter worth their salt would have emailed you to see what happened and to reschedule the call.

    1. May*

      She actually never emailed me. Just left a voicemail. By the time I got it, I also had a rejection email in my inbox. It just seemed so rushed. I found it weird as well that before our call she emailed me asking for a good call back number when it right on my resume.

      1. Colette*

        I don’t think that’s weird on its own. I usually put my home phone on my resume, but if I were doing a phone interview during the day, my cell number might be the callback number.

      2. voluptuousfire*

        Eh, recruiters will ask as an “in case.” Maybe you’ll working from your office and you can use the landine there vs. your cell or whatever. It’s a courtesy. It also may be a chance to confirm your phone number. You’d be surprised at how many people don’t quite check that their contact info is correct.

  25. May*

    I am the OP on question #2.
    Some of you have guessed right- I actually left off BA in Paych because I didn’t want to look as lost as I really was during that time. I was going through major health issues and chose the major I thought would be the easiest to graduate with (stupid). I have gone ahead and emailed the recruiter back with a message very similar to what Alison wrote (thanks Alison!). I look forward to providing her with an update very soon.

    1. Colette*

      I can understand why you left it off, but I don’t think including it will hurt you. It’s a small part of your resume, and it isn’t the same sort of liability an unrelated Masters might be.

    2. NotAnotherManager!*

      As someone who looks at resumes, if you completed the degree, worked in positions related-ish to the degree, and then went back to school for business, you do not look lost – you look like someone who test drove a career path for a while and decided it was not for you and to pursue a different path. This isn’t uncommon or a strike against you! It’s not different from people who go back for a master’s in an unrelated field, really.

      I have a degree or two that I leave off my resume, when it makes sense – I have an associate’s I did after undergrad as part of a career side path that no one would care about, and I did an unrelated master’s for fun that I leave off so no one thinks I’m career switching when I’m not. I do think it makes sense to list both of yours.

  26. Observer*

    #4- A number of people have pointed out that you should consider firing your property manager, I agree.

    I would also add that when you talk to your lawyer about dealing with the resident manager, ask them to keep in mind that you may have to fire the property manager shortly as well, if that might change or affect their advice.

    Also, I would be looking VERY closely at the relationship between the property manager and resident manager, as well as looking at the property manager’s work both in general and specifically around things like purchasing, nepotism etc. (ie any place where he can feather his own nest, or inappropriately benefit himself and his family / cronies)

  27. Women's Health RN*

    #1: If I assume good intentions: this sounds like a misguided, ill-advised attempt to promote health in women.
    However I can’t help but think that it still sends a terrible message that “When it comes to anything to do with women, the most important thing to focus on is women’s bodies, and we will use the opportunity to give women unsolicited advise on what to do with their bodies.”
    What a way to alienate employees.

    1. Anon 2.0*

      This would actually be the perfect thing to send back in a reply all with the quotations around it. I would add the same signature or group that sent out the original email. Signed Committee or something so they know I’m directing it at them.

  28. WhatWouldRuthBaderGinsburgDo*

    Ugh, health tips don’t have a place with Women’s History month. Why not send an email talking about well known women in your field of work, or steps the company is taking to remedy the gap? Assuming good intent, whoever wrote that email is either completely clueless or has strong opinions about fat positivity, something seen as a pro-feminist issue. Either the person needs to do more research or keep their opinions out of company email.

    Obviously women shouldn’t be judged by their bodies, but there’s a divide in feminist circles about whether body/fat positivity is or should be part of feminism or seen as pro-female empowerment.

    Personally, I think the extreme of it is kind of the opposite of feminism- not very empowering, an idea that is likely to shorten a woman’s life and harm its quality. We women should be encouraged to be healthy- not pretty, but healthy, if feminism is to be involved in one’s personal life to that extent. Like Ruth Bader Ginsburg- she is alive and fighting for women for a long time because she has healthy habits and weight! But that’s neither here nor there. I audibly shuddered when I read about that cringey email.

    1. Keymaster of Gozer*

      No employer should be making comments or assumptions about employees weight. Not even if it’s framed as a ‘we’re trying to make you healthier!’ edict.

      There are things they can promote as pro-health, measures to reduce stress (a major problem in employment), access to quality healthcare, programs for alcohol/drug problems, free/low cost options for healthy foods.

      But critiquing weight is like critiquing what medications someone is on. Far too personal and far too likely to operate from a position of misinformation.

      1. WhatWouldRuthBaderGinsburgDo*

        Right, weight is a matter for personal life, and I was giving an opinion of my own. Which should not filter into an all staff email. But, companies can do small things to improve health and encourage exercise and healthy eating.

        Before COVID I worked in a place that had an EAP, a contract with the gym in the building to allow employees free use, options to allow for working out over lunches, and free awesome fruit weekly, rather than pastries. I ate so many apples that I was like a demented pony!

        1. Keymaster of Gozer*

          I’m a bit bitter I admit because every company that has told me to ‘go do exercises!’ has gone so far as to nag me to do it (I can’t do it anyway) or criticise anyone who doesn’t or who eats anything ‘unhealthy’.

          Basically as long as firms stay on the right side of not moralising or telling people they have an obligation to be ‘healthy’ I’m good. They have to realise that for some people, being overweight and not exercising is as healthy as we can get!

          (I’d have logged out on fresh fruit too! I love apples, they give me migraines but I still adore them! Fresh celery and lettuce too please…I’d go nuts for that!)

    2. pancakes*

      You’re mistaken to think you can point to a person’s age as evidence of having healthy habits and weight. That’s not how human bodies work.

    3. Kiwi with laser beams*

      Counterpoint to the famous women thing: Dr Siouxsie Wiles is fat. Are you going to go up to a top microbiologist who explains covid to a freaked out public and stands up for people who are vulnerable and get up in her weight? Or are you going to trust that she has a doctor?

      As someone who is on medically ordered weight loss, I am not asking anyone to override what my doctor is telling me. I do, however, notice the enormous amount of finger pointing regarding being fat and it’s this extra crud I have to clear out of my head in order to talk to my actual doctors about this stuff. I also have a dietitian who explains the science of why a lot of the weight loss advice given to women, including stuff that doesn’t look like fad diets, is unhealthy and sets people up to fail. And loads of people can’t afford this guy.

      I’m not asking anyone to tell me that I’m not sick. What I’m asking people to do is stop thinking they’re entitled to be armchair doctors to fat people and to recognise how much of people’s immediate mental biases is still aesthetic no matter how much people may tell themselves that they’re only thinking of people’s health.

    4. Observer*

      Please this has nothing to do with any branch of feminism. This also has nothing to to with body positivity or lack thereof.

      The bottom line is that
      1. It’s flat out stupid to assume that weight loss is relevant to every woman in the office.
      2. It’s verging on medical malpractice to imply that THE health problems that women need deal with are ALL ABOUT WEIGHT with a side “you have the wrong kind of urinary tract”.
      3. The idea that weight, to the extent it’s relevant, is a FEMALE thing is beyond offensive.

      4. Using the occasion of Women’s HISTORY Month to ignore actual history and harangue women about their weight in the guise of “concern for their health” is beyond offensive, and NO branch of feminism is stupid enough to swallow it.

  29. Name (Required)*

    It shocks me how many of us, like myself, are unemployed in 2020 because of COVID, yet there are still numerous stories of people that have managed to keep their jobs while proving to be morons sending emails like “lose weight here’s how” for Women’s History Month.

    I’m unemployed. I won’t send an email that stupid. How do I manage to NOT get a job right now while others are still employed while doing stupid things like this?

    *sad laugh*

  30. Perpal*

    OP1 – I’m not always one for the viral internet shame machine but, I woulda been tempted if I received an email like that! Say something please XD

  31. Anonforthis*

    OP #1 – I am days late in reading this but my head pretty much exploded. Absolutely unacceptable. Wow. You should absolutely say something. Depending on how bold you want to be, you could recommend HR send out health tips for men since women received them in honor of Women’s History Month. You could say that the email should include a full range of health issues, including weight loss, how to avoid “Dad bod” and how critical it is to screen for “male” specific issues like prostate cancer.

  32. LogicalOne*

    2. Ugh technology sucks sometimes. I am so sorry to hear you didn’t get the job. I hope the employer didn’t reject you because of your internet call getting cut off during the middle of the interview and the connection being unreliable. If in fact the employer, after you’ve reach out to them and explained the situation, does not give you another opportunity to interview then maybe it just wasn’t meant to be. I mean, if they can’t understand a simple technologically challenging problem that you had no control over to give you another chance, then you may be avoiding future headaches with this employer. That would’ve been a red flag for me. It sucks but might have been for the better in the long run. Best of luck with whatever pursuits you take on next!!

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