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Sexist Boss

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I was recently in a car accident and broke my right wrist. I am right-handed, so as you can imagine it's making things a bit of a challenge. I'm in a short arm cast that immobilizes my wrist and thumb.

My boss, the VP of the company, called me into his office to discuss a new task. He started by saying he was really sorry I was hurt, especially with it being my right hand, but at least I'm not a guy because that would be so much worse, har har.

I'm used to locker room type talk. I work for a company with around 48 employees only 5 of whom are women and I am the only one in a technical role. The guys are crude and rude and gross. Whatever.

But it's one thing to get that kind of talk from the blue collar guys on the shop floor and completely different to get that from the VP of the company. I didn't know how to respond. I half-laughed with him and then quickly changed the subject. I wish I were strong enough and sure enough to call him out on it. But he's my boss, and my work visa is up for renewal, and he's got too much power.

This is why there are so few female engineers. 

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That's disgusting. I'd be in the same boat, because where I work is very man-heavy. 

Is it possible for you to complain to HR - maybe after your visa gets renewed?

I hope that your wrist heals quickly and fully!

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This kind of thing happening (especially in 2017) makes my brain want to explode.

1. A person you work with, especially one in a power position relative to you, should not be making jokes that are sexual in nature and putting you in that kind of difficult position of how to react and also should not be creating an environment that makes you (rightly) feel uncomfortable about something that doesn't even have anything to do with work.

2. Does he think a) women don't masturbate, b) women masturbate less frequently than men so it would be less of a hardship to temporarily lose the use of our dominant hand, c) women are better able to control their sexual urges to pleasure themselves whereas men are animals that can't stop beating off, or d) ???!!!

3. If this is the attitude (toward what is acceptable) near the top of the company hierarchy, it's most definitely going to trickle down and create an overall company culture that is perfectly ok with such comments.

4. There is the possibility that he forgot for a minute that he was your superior and/or was trying to connect with you in some informal way like two teammates joking and snapping towels in the lockerroom. But a) he's your boss and b) even if he was a male or female coworker on your level, it'd still be inappropriate for other reasons (I hope) I've mentioned. It's just a bad idea to ever inject sexual jokes and innuendos into conversations with coworkers, employees, bosses, etc.

5. This happens in all industries though is perhaps worse (more frequent/accepted behavior) in male-dominated industries. My mom worked in IT in the 70s-90s. She wasn't harassed personally but the industry was almost all men and there would very occasionally be jokes told in her presence if she was in a group. And when a man and woman would have an affair at the same company, the woman was always fired, never the man. Everyone knew this is what happened. It was just accepted. This was the culture. I won't even get into the other stuff, e.g. my mom would attend a conference and the people selling stuff at the conference would only speak to the men with my mom and not my mom even though my mom was the boss and decision maker. They would totally ignore her.

An aside:

I worked briefly (1 year) at a Fortune 500 company back in 2012. A few times a year we'd have to do online modules individually about preventing sexual harrassment, discrimation, financial crimes, etc. involving the workplace. It was annoying for our bosses because they'd rather we be working and our dept was super busy but we HAD to complete these madatory "courses" within a certain time period or everyone would get in trouble.

So these online courses came complete with videos with cheesy acting in little skits about how to handle (or how not to handle) certain situations that might come up. I thought the whole thing was silly because in today's day and age, who would really do or say some of the things these people in the skits were doing and saying? And then there'd be a multiple choice about the best way to conduct yourself in a certain scenario and it was always plainly, blatantly obvious (to me and I hope most of my coworkers) which was the "correct" answer. I guess there might have been a couple of tricky situations where maybe I could conceive of someone making the "incorrect" choice because they were still living in the dark ages and surrounded by other cavepeople and so think everyone behaves like that so it's totally normal.

But I digress. Then I hear stories like yours--exactly what the online sexual harrassment in the workplace "training" courses I had to do were trying to prevent (or at least cover the company's butt because they were making it known what was unacceptable and acceptable to all the employees). !!!!!!

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