Unconscious sexism

I had a meeting with a new client this afternoon. On the way up, I had been getting the briefing from my colleague about who the people were, X who the meeting is with, and Y and Z who might come, depending on what X decides (all male names).

So when “Katie” meets us at the door, I immediately assume that she is X’s secretary and make polite secretaryish conversation (about their Christmas party tonight). I hope it wasn’t too blatantly obvious that that’s what I thought, because she joined us at the meeting to (as X said) take the notes of the meeting and do all the work.

I was really annoyed with myself. People never assume I’m a secretary because I don’t look right (I have really short hair, wear no makeup and I always wear trousers), but I remember what it was like when they did and I hated it.

  2 comments for “Unconscious sexism

  1. November 26, 2005 at 12:48 pm

    And did you start dressing like that to avoid being treated like a secretary? Or was that how you always dressed but something in your attitude/status changed so people didn’t treat you like that anymore? (Presume you work in a fairly male-dominated world.)

  2. November 26, 2005 at 8:47 pm

    I have gradually moved to dressing like that for a range of reasons, but probably because I care less about conformity than I used to.

    I did wonder after I wrote that post whether people treated me less like a secretary because I’m a lot more confident than I was 20 years ago (I’d like to think so), but I think it’s more the clothes, unfortunately.

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