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Sexism Is Heavy

, , , , , | Working | December 14, 2021

When I was twenty-one in the late 1980s, I graduated from university with a Bachelor of Computer Science degree, and I tried to find work in my field. Alas, jobs were scarce at the time, so, to pay the bills, I became a secretary. I soon learned to not get much respect from my boss and his colleagues. They figured that since I was young and female, I probably didn’t have much in the way of brains. I needed the job, so I gritted my teeth and put up with their sexism.  

One day, I went to grab something from the top drawer of a filing cabinet. I did what I always did: thumb back the release for the drawer and grab the handle with all my strength since it was heavy. For some reason, this time it didn’t “stop” when it was fully extended; it just kept coming, and I found myself with an armful of an extremely heavy file drawer.

Me: “Oh, my God, HELP!”

I got no response.


My boss came ambling out of his office, annoyed.

Boss: “What the h***’s the matter?”


Boss: “Ugh.”

He grabbed the drawer.

Boss’s Colleague: “Geez, is someone torturing a cat out here? What’s with all the noise?”

Boss: “[My Name] had a mishap with this drawer.”

Colleague: “You’re kidding. I didn’t think filing was something that even [My Name] could screw up!”

[Colleague] laughed. [Boss] chuckled. I glowered.

Boss: “Well, you’re okay now, [My Name], so get back to work.”

I was shaky for the rest of the day, not to mention in pain from strained muscles. No word of solace from any of the higher-ups, of course. Fast-forward to a few months later.

Me: “[Boss], I’d like to talk to you for a minute.”

Boss: “Is it important? Because I’m just about to leave for a meeting.”

He grabbed his golf bag as he spoke. Yes, he really did have “meetings” on the golf course that lasted for hours.

Me: “It’s pretty important. I’ve had an offer for another job, and I’m going to take it.”

Boss: *Stares* “Oh.” *Puts the golf bag down* “Where? Doing what? More secretarial stuff?”

Me: “At [Company], as an entry-level computer programmer.”

Boss: *Pauses* “A computer programmer?”

Me: “Yes. Remember my resume? It stated that I have my Bachelor of Computer Science degree.”

Boss: “Oh, yeah. I remember now. But aren’t you happy here?”

I was not touching that one.

Me: “It’s not that. This is what I’ve trained for, and the money’s much better.”

Boss: “I guess there’s nothing I can do to change your mind, then.”

Me: “No, sorry.”

My new job was everything I’d hoped. It was fun, interesting, and well-paid, and my coworkers respected me. As the final icing on the cake, one of those coworkers was the man who eventually became my husband. We’ve now been married for twenty-eight years.

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