It’s still alive, ladies – the ugly beast called sexism. While it may be at bay in the United States, it still thrives – and is even culturally accepted – in some countries abroad. And even though we’ve got borders and oceans separating us from it, the wonderful online world keeps us forever connected to it. Thus, there it lies; right there on our workplace desks.
Whenever you have to outsource design work, statistical analysis, or any kind of freelance work to another country, you may need to prepare yourself for sexist responses. The norms in said country could be different – more ruled-by-man – from what you’re used to. If and when you do encounter sexist remarks from overseas freelancers, use these tips to hold onto your dignity. Don’t let them squash your femininely empowered self!
It may be tempting to go on a “Women can do all that you can do and have babies” rant. Don’t. Any sexism you face will seem unprofessional and inappropriate, but you have to be the one to remain professional and composed.
Allowing sexist comments to blur your work vision won’t be good for anyone. Remember what you’re there to do and keep your mind on your job. By staying focused on the task at hand, you can work diligently and still provide an excellent end product.
Although it’s hard, try to not take sexism personally. The sexism you encounter is likely based on a cultural view of women, not on you specifically.
Keep in mind the attitude stems from the culture in which the freelancer was raised. It’s partially the fault of his environment. He may not be a rude person, even if that’s how he seems toward you. It’s possible that he doesn’t even realize how unfamiliar his perspective is for you.
Show him who’s boss. You’re the one who has hired his freelance services, after all. Assert your authority over the project with high expectations. Demonstrate that, as a woman in charge of an assignment, you know how to deliver.
Keeping all of your frustration bottled up could result in an ugly explosion. Rather than waiting for the eruption, perhaps you should respectfully confront him right from the start. If he doesn’t realize he’s offending you, which may very well be the case, he’ll have no excuse after you’ve told him so.
Expressing yourself can be tricky. You may wonder:
1. How do I politely tell him he’s being a jerk?
2. Will telling him ruin any relationship we currently have?
To the first question: be honest and respectful. Tell him 1) you don’t appreciate being looked down upon as a woman and 2) you hope you can work together without such commentary in the future.
To the second question: it’s unfair for you to have to deal with sexism at work. Period. Be it from across the globe or down the hall. If you really think being open with this freelancer will tarnish your work relationship, weigh the pros and cons and talk with co-workers before making a decision.
If direct confrontation makes you feel uncomfortable, or if you’re unsure whether it’s warranted, find someone else to talk to. Maybe a female co-worker has experienced something similar. You two can bounce your feelings off one another, which may help you feel better.
Talk to your boss about what you should do. Even if he/she is only there to listen, it can help just to talk. Releasing your frustration and hearing another’s perspective can be really, really helpful.
While the freelancer might be an asset to the company, you don’t need a fulfillment company to tell you people like to be treated with respect. Sexist remarks are undeniably disrespectful, but you can’t let them hurt you. Remember that the freelancer’s comments don’t define who you are and, at the end of the day, you’re an empowered woman carving a place for yourself in the professional world.