I currently work in a phone shop, this job involves me selling phones, contracts, insurance, phone cases etc. It’s a very male orientated job, mainly due to the stress of sales and the fact you must have some sort of knowledge of technology. Some women just find it more difficult to handle sales pressure than men and tend not to know a lot about tech compared to men. So because of all of this I am one of the only women in this job at the moment.
And because of this I sometimes experience sexism in the workplace.
- Customers tend to go to my male colleagues because they assume I don’t have the knowledge. Even when both me and my colleague are free I notice more people tend to go to them instead. I’m not saying I know absolutely everything about phones, but no one does. When I do serve customers and I try to solve their problem for them and I seem unsure they immediately go “Would your colleague know?” Besides my manager I have been there the longest so the majority of the time the other colleague doesn’t know either.
- Being called pet names such as “love” or “darling”. I dislike this one quite a bit because , whether it is coming from a member of staff or a customer, I don’t think its very respectful. People would have something to say if I called them pet names such as “babe”, so why should they be allowed to do it? I’m there to work and do my job, not for your entertainment.
- Being told I’d be good at a sales job because I’m female. When I first got the position I was worried I wouldn’t be very good at the role as it was my first sales job. However I got told that I would do just fine because I’m female. I don’t use my looks or assets to get the sale figures I do, I use my knowledge and charming personality instead. If at any point I have done better than my colleagues it is not because I’m female, it’s because I can do my job better.
- “Guys have the Samsung phones and girls have the iPhones”. I had a customer say this to me before I whipped my Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge from my pocket, this comment is utterly stupid. Anyone can have any phone, it doesn’t depend on what gender you are. Also there are more brands than Apple or Samsung. He was suggesting that all girls are stupid enough to go for the iPhones because at a cheaper price Samsung Galaxy phones tend to be a lot better. Boys can be stupid too.
- A previous manager got more angry at me when I was worse at hovering the floor than the male colleague. As a woman I am pre-programmed to be good at cleaning, so when I was worse than the male colleague…it was unheard of. Look I’m female, I’m shit at cleaning and cooking. Deal with it.
- Employers in the past have felt it necessary to comment on my appearance. “If you wouldn’t mind seeing my colleague as she is a lot more attractive than me anyway” Oh don’t bother telling the customers that you’re busy and that I can do my job just perfectly. Customers don’t care about my appearance, they are in the store to get advice on whatever the situation is, my appearance has nothing to do with it. Whether I’m unattractive or pretty, as long as I’m good at my job it shouldn’t matter.
- When you ask a male customer for their mobile number and they count it as flirting. You asked me to check when you can upgrade your contract, I need your number you idiot. Once you leave the store I will forget you and your number.
- When male customers ask whether you have a boyfriend. I don’t mind small talk. Actually sometimes to get customers to buy products you have to gain some trust out of them and so chatting about everyday things helps. However my personal love life has nothing to do with you.
- When you ask the customer to rate your customer service and they comment saying you were “fit”. I’m sure most people have experienced it when you get a service from any phone shop within 24 hours you get a text asking “How likely will you recommend ____ to a friend out of 10?” After the rating you then get told to comment why. A customer has given me a 10 due to my physical appearance. Not because I helped him out at all or that I’m actually good at my job. Just because I’m pretty to look at.
There are probably a few more scenarios I have missed, but I have experienced every single one that I have listed above. It’s nearly 2017, can’t sexism just end.