Are you using a phone to make a call or to make an announcement to the entire company?
Photo by Trinette Reed via Stocksy
For women in the workplace, there are countless challenges: being held to higher ethical standards, making less than their male peers, and facing sexual harassment, whether one works as a waitress or an astronomer.
On top of all that, there's another thing that can make a job unbearable for female professionals, and something most women have probably dealt with at least once in their careers: annoying male coworkers.
Though coworkers of any gender can be irritating, men have their own particular methods of annoying the shit out of you. Broadly asked working women what their male coworkers do that annoys them the most. Here's what they had to say.
When they sit in meetings very far away from everyone else with one ankle on top of the other knee. It makes me want to die. Also they're doing this as they lean back with their arms crossed. I call it "the men in meetings meme" and it sucks.
I've noticed that men tend to interrupt more and that the volume of their voices increases when in conversation, as if talking louder will make them be more understood.
Men are the only people who skateboard or hoverboard through our open office.
When I worked at an shared office space, WeWork, men were the only ones who would brazenly put their feet on shared furniture, like couches and sofas. It's not even like they were "at home" because who puts their shoes on the furniture at home? These men are scum.
My first week at one of my current jobs, my direct supervisor asked me if our department head had told me his theory about white men. He came in later and explained that he thinks white men are lazy and entitled and only hires minorities and women. I think I'm OK with that. The part I don't like is that he plays techno constantly.
When they ask me things they could Google themselves.
There are a lot of weird petty things: like your nail color is a thing at [law] firms. It's weird to me because red signals to men that you're a "harlot" or that "I might want to sleep with you."
Also, when you go to blogs like AboveTheLaw.com, where they write about how to fit in at firms, and they talk about "professional nail colors," a lot of them are oriented to white girls. So what light pink looks like on white girls, it does not look like that on me. It's not necessarily professional on me, because it stands out against my skin tone. So I've kind of had a difficult time being a black girl in the professional world because red is classic, but it might be suggestive to older men.
I'd say that what stands out most when it comes to male coworkers is that they don't bother to compensate for the lack of context and tone in instant messages, emails, etc. Sometimes it's efficient, sometimes it's rude, and it often leads to longer email chains because I'll need to clarify several points.
I try to keep most of interactions with coworkers light—crack jokes, be playful. Men don't seem to know when to stop with it, though. For instance, I can joke around with my female colleagues but they know when to switch it off, in a meeting or during some serious discussion. Whereas men will continue to take liberties and fuck around even when they've gone a bit too far. Sometimes they use humor to undercut and embarrass me. I hate it.
I find men are more prone to annoying outward behaviors, like chewing very loudly at their desk, drumming on the table, or wearing their headphones half-off while blasting music. I've worked with a woman who has had an issue with any of these things.
Men. Yell. On. The. Phone. All. Day.
I'm an executive in my middle 50s. I have an MBA and over 35 years experience as a service operations manager. But most of my male coworkers enter interactions with me not as a highly credentialed business professional, but as an aggregation of any woman in their life who has ever had to call them out.
When I ask them to explain expense reports, I'm their wife picking at them about credit card charges. When I point out a procedural or compliance issue in their area of responsibility, I'm a mom nagging them about a bad report card. And these guys are men I would categorize as feminists—we're on the same page politically, and they don't pull any sexist crap around the water cooler.
So what annoys me most about my male coworkers? As much as they really do believe in equality, pay parity, etc., they are so busy trying to be feminists that they won't acknowledge that they do notice that I am a woman, and that has some baggage for them.
*Most names have been changed.