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Unfiltered Story #233006

, | Unfiltered | April 29, 2021

(I am a stagehand in a theater owned by the local college. Today we are setting up for the college’s annual math meet. Our theater staff have already started working when the faculty from the math department arrive. Note that they are all middle-aged men, while we are all women. Our manager is 40 and the rest of us are in our mid-twenties.)

Faculty #1: (to Faculty #2) “I can’t find the power cable for this. Do you see it anywhere?”

Faculty #2: “Are you sure you packed it? I don’t see it.”

Manager: “If you’re missing a power cable, we have an adapter that would work with this input. I can go look for it if you’d like.”

Faculty #1: (completely ignoring her) “Guess we’ll just have the kids raise their hands.”

Manager: “If you want to use the buzzer we can go find the cable, it’s not a problem.”

Faculty #2: (also ignoring her) “The kids will just have to make do without the buzzers, I suppose.”

Faculty #1: “What time are we supposed to get started?”

Faculty #2: “One or one-thirty, I think.”

Me: “The house opens at 1:45.”

Faculty #2: “We’re not starting until 2.”

Faculty #1: “Oh, then we have plenty of time!”

(It’s currently 1:25 and the only thing we need to do now is tape down the cables. Just as I’ve begun to do so, however, Faculty #3 swoops in and decides that he wants to have two microphones instead of four. I set about striking two of the microphones- and the second I finish doing so, Faculty #1 tells me they’ve decided to go back to four microphones. While I’m wrangling that, the TD locates the power cord for the buzzer and gets it set up.)

Faculty #3: “Oh, wonderful! You’re the best! I owe you my first-born.”

TD: “Haha, that’s okay.”

Faculty #3: “You’d love her. She’s 21- probably older than you!”

TD: “Uh, I’m actually 27.”

(Faculty #3 ignores her and wanders off.)

Faculty #1: “Where’s that student that was helping us earlier? What was her name?”

TD: “Uh, [My Name]?”

Faculty #1: “Yes! [My Name], could you help us with this?”

Me: “What do you need?”

Faculty #1: “We need you to sit with this laptop and keep track of the scores in this spreadsheet during the meet.”

TD: “[My Name] isn’t a student, she’s a [Theater] employee. She has to be keeping an eye on things backstage.”

(Faculty #1 doesn’t really look like he understands, but he lets it go. We miraculously finish setting up in time for the meet to begin at 2:00. It goes pretty smoothly, and at 3:00 we start prepping the stage for the awards ceremony at 3:30. They want to strike basically everything except for a single podium microphone, so I start peeling up the tape that we used to secure the cables for the rest of the equipment. I’m taking my time because I have to be careful not to damage the cables, and if the tape gets stuck to itself then it will take forever to get it off. I’ve just started on one cable when I turn and see Faculty #2 rip a giant clump of cables off of the ground, tape and all. He brings it to where I’m standing offstage and tosses it at my feet.)

Faculty #2: (smiling) “Got the rest of them for you!”

(I give him my best fake smile, then once he’s out of earshot wish a curse upon him and all his bloodline. It takes me 40 minutes and a lot of fancy knife work to pry the tape off the cables and coil them up properly. By that time, the awards ceremony is over and my coworkers come backstage to help strike the rest of the stage.)

Faculty #3: (to ATD) “So, you’re finally doing some actual work?”

ATD: “Haha, yeah, guess I have to do my job now.”

Faculty #3: “Your job is pulling up tape?”

ATD: “Actually, my job is sound.”

Faculty #3: “So you don’t really do anything, then.”

(Later, the TD is packing a bunch of our equipment in the A/V room.)

Faculty #2: “Hey, who’s usually your regular A/V guy?”

(After everyone has left…)

TD: “I can’t believe that guy actually thought I was that young. Like the college would make a 20-year-old a technical director.”

ATD: “Yeah, and apparently [My Name] is a student volunteer.”

TD: “Because the fact that she has a headset, full backstage uniform, and handling equipment in our A/V room doesn’t indicate that she’s a real stagehand.”

Me: “I don’t think they’re used to hanging around this many women.”

(I know many of the men’s comments seem trivial or may have been meant in a joking manner, but throughout the event they were patronizing, ignored our suggestions despite us having way more technical expertise than they did, and showed a general lack of respect for our positions. Our theater staff is made up almost entirely of women at every level. This isn’t the only time we’ve experienced misogyny in the workplace, but we have great pride and passion for our work and we are not afraid to be successful and capable professionals in such a male-dominated industry.)

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