Disrespect towards women at work

Disrespect towards women at work can happen during virtual or in-person meetings, through email, or anywhere work gets done. It can look like:

  • interrupting, talking over or ignoring women in face-to-face and virtual meetings
  • assuming women, regardless of their role, will pick up the slack in tasks such as taking minutes, coffee runs, and tidying the office kitchen
  • implying women don’t have the leadership skills to manage difficult workplace situations
  • making sexist or looks-based comments about women co-workers
  • attempting to silence women or dismiss their viewpoints by not inviting them to meetings or leaving them off email chains.

Key facts about disrespect towards women at work

How to do something

  • Show your disapproval of a sexist comment by shaking your head
  • Support women by talking to your manager or Human Resources
  • Speak up when women are interrupted: ‘We didn’t hear her point; can we circle back?’
"What I have always received back has been really positive – where people have been like, 'I didn't know that Khadija, thank you for bringing it to my attention' and I've gone, 'Oh, that wasn't so bad!" Khadija Gbla, Our Watch Ambassador

    Extra advice

    • Use workplace values and policies as a basis to speak up
    • Let female colleagues being targeted know you’ll be a witness to their formal complaint
    • Pull colleagues aside to talk about what’s not OK
    • Form an alliance of like-minded people to support each other when doing something.

    Check out Our Watch’s Workplace Equality and Respect – a program which helps organisations embed gender equality.

    If you or someone you know is experiencing disrespect or harassment at work, please visit the Help and support page for support services.