Most female workers in the modern workplace are not prepared for sexist prejudice. We all learn at a young age that this type of thing is “over” and was out of style by the 1970s or 1980s. A modern supervisor would never think of patting his secretary on the bottom or requesting that a female subordinate reveal a little more skin. To some extent, this is correct. Gender discrimination, however, persists, and thousands of women are subjected to undermining comments and disdain from coworkers and employers each year.

However, you are not required to do so. Here we shed some light on eight of the subtle yet uncomfortably typical indications of workplace discrimination against female employees. Before you start thinking, “Maybe I’m being overly sensitive”, look around your workplace to see whether there is an ongoing pattern of discrimination. And if there is, you may take action to improve the workplace for yourself and every other woman who works for our business.

All Personal Assistants are Female

Some firms are still using labour division ideas from the 1950s. This goes beyond the standard gender biases for one career or another. Personal assistants are usually cheerful female secretaries, but in today’s ratios, there are many brilliant men in these professions as well. However, if your firm mainly hires ‘beautiful’ women in assistant and administrative roles, this is an early warning sign that should not be overlooked. It could imply that they have different gender expectations that will emerge over time.

Female Professionals are Treated like Assistants

Another aspect of the ‘all female’ assistant pool is the notion that any female in any department is ‘better suited’ to assistant responsibilities than their male colleagues. If a woman on a team is constantly asked to get the coffee, organise parties, or clean up after meetings, this is a clear evidence of systemic discrimination. Women’s work is an idea that should have long since vanished from modern workplaces, but it still haunts some employers.

Shoulder Massages for Ladies Only

When it comes to gender discrimination in the workplace, unwanted touching is one of the biggest red flags. Some people, particularly bosses who believe they can get away with it, will try to disguise their urge to touch female employees with polite “shoulder massages” and other uninvited physical contact. While some businesses commonly exchange massages between coworkers, it’s time to contact HR and possibly a lawyer if only women appear to be the centre of this physical attention.

Higher Dress Code Expectations for Women

You’d know discrimination was on the cards if your boss asked you to “wear something pretty.” Some employers, on the other hand, use the dress code to hide their appearance discrimination between male and female employees. Alternatively, there are unspoken dress code expectations. Be wary if men are allowed to dress “business casual” or wear the same suit every day while women are expected to dress up more or serve as office decor. This is a clear example of institutionalised gender inequality.

Regular Comments on Appearance

Similarly, when comments about a woman’s appearance become a regular and accepted part of office culture, a manager or entire company may reveal their true discriminatory colours. It’s one thing if your boss says, “Oh, that’s a great blouse, I’ve never seen anything like it before.” It’s another thing entirely if your boss and coworkers are allowed to constantly compliment you on how attractive you are, or if your appearance is brought up when your performance should be the topic of conversation.

Comments on Women’s Choice of Lunches

Here’s one you may not have heard of or realised is a type of gender discrimination: Commenting on lunch and nutrition. Some organisations just emphasise healthy eating as part of their employee wellness programme. But if only the ladies’ nutritional lunch selections were scrutinised (ex: “Are you sure you should be eating that burger? It can’t be good for your weight/skin”), then this is a sort of gender discrimination, reinforcing the concept that women should always strive to be “thin and pretty.”

Questions about Marriage and Children

Another well-known kind of gender discrimination is the belief that women are more inclined to ignore their work in order to raise a family, or that every unmarried woman is looking for a spouse. It’s acceptable if you want to share and discuss your family life at your workplace. However, if a male employer or colleague brings up the subject of when you’re getting married, when you plan to have children, or when you’re taking time off for family, this could be a subtle hint of unequal expectations between male and female employees.

Being Asked to Smile More

Finally, the requirement to smile is one of the most subtle yet shockingly visible symptoms of workplace gender discrimination. Either A) you work in customer service, and every employee is required to smile at customers, or B) you should be permitted to pout and scowl at your computer all day. The truth is that guys never ask other men to “smile more.” So, if your supervisor or coworkers make a comment about your smile, what they truly mean is that you should seem prettier in the workplace, even if you’re concentrating on your task without any clients around.