In the course of my career in the book industry, I have:
- Been asked if the reason I was having trouble negotiating a deal was because “you’re a woman and she’s a woman.”
- Had a vicious rumor spread, after a conference in New Orleans during Mardi Gras, that I had taken off my top in exchange for some beads – I literally had to approach every person this man had talked to and ask for help in stopping the spread. One of the people to whom he lied, a founder of a startup that ProQuest acquired, is now the boss of my boss. To this day I don’t know if he knows the truth.
- Been told I need to “work harder to break in” to cliques of men who are tightly bonded and want nothing to do with me.
- Been told I am “arrogant”. Tried to square #3 with #4. Failed.
- Been paid less than male co-workers of equal rank.
- Taken only 3 weeks of maternity leave when my youngest was born because I didn’t want to compromise my job (and I was on email the whole time). Still got laid off.
- Had a director of sales feel me up publicly in front of the rest of the company (and no one said anything).
- Had that same director tell me he wanted to get me into a tent (?!).
- Had HR ignore all my documentation about these things.
- Been called “defensive” by a male colleague too impatient to listen to the structural reasons why his big idea won’t work.
- Been called “emotional” by a male colleague when I presented evidence about why a toxic business deal was going to actually shut out the very market we wanted to recruit.
- Been asked to pose in a swimsuit.
This is only what I can remember. Oh, and there was that time I was asked to hold onto some gun parts, but that had nothing to do with gender. I was just conveniently located in a bookstore.