In hopes that enlightenment can change perpetrators’ ways, The Overcast is running a 4-part series in about the subtle and overt ways people have been marginalized in the workplace based on their gender. It’s clear from internet comments that a portion of the province can’t see the difference between “having a little fun at work” and belittling a woman in the workplace.

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“Being a young woman, working in sales, I am often given off-hand comments that I understand people don’t see as offensive. Things like, ‘I’d like to speak to the man/gentleman in charge,’ ‘Your Father own this place?,’ ‘She your daughter?,’ (speaking over me to my employer). By contrast my male co-worker, who is roughly my age, is never asked if he’s someone’s son, husband, or if his father owns the business. I realize in most of these incidents people are just being curious and making conversation, they don’t really mean anything by it. Best example of this was when once speaking with a woman she casually asked, ‘Your father or husband work here?’ I responded no. ‘Oh, I just thought since you know so much about this, you must have grown up with it or been in the family business.’ It just never occurred to her that perhaps I went to school or was formally trained.”

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“Twice in my engineering career I have been paid less than male coworkers with the same experience and education. Just after graduation I was offered a position with a company. A fellow male student from my graduating class was offered $1 more an hour for the same position. A few years later I accepted a new position and shortly after broke my leg. My male replacement, also from my graduating class, was offered $5000 more a year and a company truck. I had to negotiate for my lower salary. The professional association responsible for regulating the engineering industry conducts a salary survey. Women with equal experience are often paid less. When I tell people my story they assume I’m a bad engineer, I’m not willing to travel, or work overtime, or I just don’t want to get my hands dirty. Not true. I’ve been to the most remote places in Labrador. I am happiest in work boots on a construction site. I am a damn good engineer. The pay gap is real.”

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“I needed my boss to reset my password for a work system. He changed the temp password to ‘ilovepussy’ and also told me I look like a pornstar he discovered one night. Said I should look up her work. Things like this happen so often that I’ve almost become numb to it.”

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“I worked at a coffee shop on the Burin Peninsula for a while. There was male staff who used to prepare a “baker’s surprise,” which was when a baker would find a lone female (usually a new staff member) in the break room, and expose their genitals to them. There was around 50 staff members, 35-40 women and 10-15 men. Everyone knew that this was happening. I couldn’t believe that at 16 years old with my first ever job, I had to endure sexual harassment even in a workplace where there was predominantly female staff. Needless to say, I did not work there for very long. I felt disgusting. Why should I have had to deal with this in the workplace?”