‘A Woman’s View’ panel discusses sexist comments, women in the workplace

Jan 7, 2022, 5:03 PM
Women in the workplace...
Stock photo of two women walking into a workplace. KSL host Amanda Dickson spoke with the author of a recent study that gauged how Utah women experience sexism in the workplace.

SALT LAKE CITY — Researchers at the Utah Women & Leadership Project (UWLP) wanted to understand how women in the workplace experience sexist comments in Utah. 

And Amanda Dickson, host of “A Woman’s View” on KSL NewsRadio, wanted to understand what they learned. So she spoke with the founding director of UWLP as well as other women in the Utah community. They talked about the research and the real-life situations faced by women in the workplace.

Related: Women in the workforce, an interview with Fox News host Dana Perino

Dr. Susan Madsen, the Karen Huntsman professor of leadership in the Jon M. Huntsman School of Business at Utah State University and also the founding director of UWLP.

Also on the show are Sally Dietlein, executive producer at Hale Center Theatre, and Sui Lang L. Panoke, who is senior vice president of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion at Zions Bank.

Related: Sexist comments “prevalent and normalized” in Utah, study says

The show topic addresses Sexualizing women: Comments that focused on women as sexual objects, rather than as whole individuals from the UWLP Research & Policy Brief released Thursday (01/06/22).

The third most common category that emerged from the UWLP analysis focused on sexualizing women. And specifically, framing women as sex objects. There were 86 individual comments in this category. Most were made within the workplace by a man. He was most often a peer, between the ages of 46 and 59.

These comments took several different forms: First, many comments focused on women’s potential sexual behavior (often in a negative way):

“He said, ‘Women shouldn’t work because that just creates more opportunities for extramarital affairs.’”
“My husband’s coworker said, ‘You know your wife is going to have an affair,’ as a response to my being in MBA school.
“He said, ‘If you dress in clothes that are tight, you are inhibiting the ability of our men to do their jobs. You are a distraction.’”
“A [colleague’s wife] caught me before I was traveling to a conference where this administrator would also be attending. She said, ‘My husband and I are very happily married, and he has no interest in you. Don’t get any ideas!’”

Second, some comments in this category insinuated that when women experienced sexual violence, they were partly responsible because of their behavior:

“On a date with a guy who was talking about a former girlfriend of his, he said, ‘She is going to get herself raped.’”
“He talked about sexual assault and said, ‘Well you can’t parade raw meat in front of a tiger and expect it not to pounce.’”
“When sharing that I was raped, she asked if I was drinking alcohol and if I said no.”
“A local woman was running at 3 a.m. and was physically and sexually assaulted on the trail. The woman said, ‘Well whose dumb idea was it to go running at 3 a.m.?’”

Finally, another subset of comments in this category revealed the idea that women’s primary role in life was as a sex object:

“A child of maybe about 9 years of age leaned out the window of his parents’ SUV and yelled this at me: ‘What up, Ya Skanky Ho.’”
“During my marriage ceremony, the officiator said, ‘What are women for?’ Everyone laughed and he said, ‘Well, we all know what women are for. But what else are they for?’”
“My boyfriend saw me speaking to a male coworker and accused me of bending over so my coworker could look down my shirt. He thought every action women did was for men.”

Related: Report: More women than men are losing their jobs in this economy

In reference to the Great Resignation happening now in US workplaces, Panoke observed: “This may very well be one of the reasons why women, in particular, are leaving jobs, leaving the workplace because of toxic cultures.”

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‘A Woman’s View’ panel discusses sexist comments, women in the workplace