Most women are no strangers to prevalent misogyny in the workplace. In fact, it's so commonplace that some men seem unabashedly confident when making condescending, sexist, and inappropriate remarks to their female coworkers. To highlight this issue, I asked women of the BuzzFeed Community to share the most misogynistic thing a man has told them in a professional context, and more than 300 women — ranging from 20–80 years old — wrote in. Here are just one-fifth of their stories:
1."I opened a door for a male colleague. He gestured for me to go first, and I graciously nodded. As I proceeded to walk, he followed behind me and said, 'I love watching your ass.' I should also mention that we work in the legal field."
2."During a company layoff, I was told I was being laid off because my husband worked, so I would be okay. However, some of my male coworkers had wives at home who didn't work. I was also told that I was a better employee, but there were other things they needed to consider."
"I was 28 at the time."
—Anonymous, Florida, 61
3."I worked in a restaurant, and my manager told me that he had read an article that said that if a woman can orgasm consistently from vaginal sex, it changes the gait of her walk. He proceeded to tell me that he could tell by my stride that I had no problem getting off.
"Another incident: During an internship with an MLB team, my supervisor came up behind me with a power drill and revved it in my ear. He then asked if I was ready to get drilled."
4."I was in my 20s and working for the local government. Our department had a year-end accomplishment event. Each person had to write and perform a skit about their program's accomplishments for that year, which were to be filmed and then shown at this event. Two men in their 50s were overseeing the whole thing. One day, they came into my office because they didn't like something about my script. In reality, they didn't understand the program I ran, and the changes they wanted me to make were flat-out inaccurate. I respectfully explained that the way the script was written most accurately represented the program and that I appreciated their feedback. One of them got real close to me — I was sitting down; he was standing — leaned into my face and said, 'You're the poster child for why women should be hit.'"
"I was stunned, and I froze. I told my boss, who told her boss, etc. He got reprimanded and had to apologize to me but faced no real consequences."
5."I had a manager tell me that he was going to spank me because I hadn't written my order yet. When I said, 'Excuse me?' he said it again. Earnestly."
6."A 35-year-old zoo supervisor asked me to talk differently. When I asked what exactly he meant — tone, volume, etc. — he told me I sounded too sure of myself and that other people might react better if I spoke like each answer was a question. I asked, 'You want me to raise the pitch of my voice at the end of a sentence like this?' and demonstrated it. He replied, 'Yes, like that.' I said, 'No. When I have a question, I will ask like it is a question.'"
7."While working my way through nursing school, I worked at a care home as a nursing assistant. I was certified to administer medications, and the cart we kept medications in was essentially in a walk-in closet. One day, a maintenance man on campus had to fix an overhead light in the closet. I still had to get to the cart to pull out medications, so we were working around each other. He needed a power tool plugged in, and I was closest to the outlet, so I got down to plug it in for him. He said, 'That's a sight I could get used to.' I didn't catch his meaning, so I laughed and said, 'What?' He responded, 'You on your knees.' I was honestly shocked and silent at his boldness and felt cornered in the small space."
"I don't even know how I reacted! He was at least several decades older than me. I came to find out later that his wife left him because of his infidelities. He ended up sleeping in his maintenance van on campus before finally being let go for — get this — sexual harassment. I just wish I'd reported him sooner."
8."One day, I received a forwarded call from a man who wanted to talk about a project I was working on. He gave no introduction and just immediately began talking over me. The project was about demolishing a historic building, and I was working on legal compliance. (This is a public process, so we always have to hear people out.) He was a talker, so after a while, he asked how I'd gotten into historic preservation. I said, 'I started as a structural engineer and then got a master's in preservation.' His shocked response: 'You're an engineer!? But you sound like a woman!' Yes, I can be both."
"That's not even the worst experience I have had, but it was the hardest I've ever wanted to slam a phone down for sure."
—Anonymous, Washington, DC, 37
9."At a team meeting, I disagreed with someone (calmly and all that). After that, at my next one-on-one, my boss said that he didn't know what was wrong with me but that I needed to be medicated. What the fuck? I'm not allowed to disagree with people?"
10."Back in college, I was a server at a restaurant. Another server would ask me out almost every shift — sometimes multiple times — no matter how many times I told him I wasn't interested. He never stopped! I finally went to my manager about it, and his advice to me was to 'ugly myself up' for work."
—Anonymous, Nebraska, 32
11."I was in a meeting with one other woman and about 30 men. We were throwing around ideas about new software that we were implementing, and I mentioned something that would possibly cause an issue down the road if we didn't build it into the software now. The CEO then added to what I said, which helped validate my idea. My immediate boss was 'so glad [the CEO] said something,' because, otherwise, he 'was going to disregard what [I] had said.'"
12."While working as an RN in a cardiology clinic, I notified the cardiologist that his patient's echocardiogram showed a significant decrease in cardiac function over the last six months. He was dubious at first, but after reading the report, he agreed with me and said, 'Even a blind squirrel can find an occasional acorn.'"
"We were both 64."
—Anonymous, Washington, 66
13."I went to an interview for an internship while simultaneously dealing with a serious sports injury and recovering from an illness. I was upfront with the interviewer about it, especially as I was moving pretty slowly, and my voice sounded awful. A few days later, he offered me the position. Then, about half an hour after receiving the offer email, I received another email from this man that said, 'Having now offered you the position, I want to express my hope that the person who walks into my office in January is the bright, vivacious young woman I saw flashes of during our interview and not the drab, somewhat awkward person I interviewed.'"
"It's something that still flashes through my head before every interview, even now."
—Anonymous, Massachusetts, 26
14."While feeding a hospitalized infant, a 49-year-old physician said to then 28-year-old me (I am large-busted), 'I'll bet you could breastfeed the whole nursery.'"
—Anonymous, Virginia, 72
15."When I was 33, I was going through my yearly review at my IT job. My reviews were always great. This was in the early '90s and a heavily male-dominated field. That year, however, the review was different because I'd been out for eight weeks after having a C-section for my second child. I was told I would not get the high-percentage raise that I was accustomed to because there was an eight-week period during which I could not be observed. At that point, I said, 'Excuse me?' in that are-you-fucking-joking-me tone."
"Let's just say that I went over his head. Guess who got that badass raise!? 🤜"
—Anonymous, Texas, 60
16."My department head was often heard saying there were several rooms women belonged in, but the board room wasn't one. At that same company, I overheard two senior men — both in their late 40s — coming out of an interview, talking about the woman they'd just interviewed. They said she'd be perfect for the job, but it was a 'shame' she was wearing an engagement ring because she'd spend all her time planning her wedding instead of working. And once that was over, she'd soon be pregnant and taking paid leave!"
17."Another doctor I worked with told me I had a great ass but should consider getting a boob job. He even offered to get me a professional discount."
"I was 25, and he was 40."
—Anonymous, Indiana, 50
18."During the Me Too movement, my 47-year-old male colleague refused to speak to any of his female colleagues alone because 'we could say anything we wanted happened in a one-on-one meeting with him,' and he was just protecting himself. At the same time, I was being harassed at work by a male colleague, and my male boss and his male supervisor wouldn't do anything about it."
—Anonymous, Indiana, 32
19."I worked in a nursing home, and a resident slapped my butt (he had a brain injury). I reported it to my female boss, who didn't do anything about it. I then told the male director of the facility, and he said there was nothing he could do about it. He also added, 'You should see how hard it is for me to be in a female-dominated field.'"
—Anonymous, Ohio, 31
20."I got engaged when I was 26 and was excited to tell my coworkers. My 70-year-old boss overheard and angrily said, 'Now you're just going to get pregnant and be useless.'"
—Anonymous, Texas, 32
21."I've had men say completely unprofessional things to me in the workplace, but the worst is not being spoken to at all. As an undergrad, I was a student worker on the business end of my school's athletic department. I've always been passionate about sports and logistics (I'm now pursuing a law degree focused on sports and entertainment law), and I was in charge of scheduling and projects for the other student workers, all of whom were male. Our building housed all of the athletic facilities, as well as the business and coaching offices. Student workers had desks near the front, and we always got a lot of foot traffic. Whenever male employees (directors, coaches, equipment managers, etc.) would come through, they'd say hi to all the male student workers and talk about sports. They would never say a word to me. Even if they wanted to talk about projects I was in charge of, they'd approach the male employees, who'd then point them to me."
22."During the call to offer me the position, I asked about the (pathetically) low salary and if there was any wiggle room. The male hiring manager hemmed and hawed a bit before ending the discussion by saying, 'Since you have a boyfriend to support you, a higher wage isn't really necessary.' He only knew I lived with my now-husband because I had to explain a career gap due to us moving for his job. I had years of experience and a master's degree!"
—Anonymous, Arizona, 31
23."I was told that a male new hire who was completely inexperienced was making more than I was because he had a family to support. I was a supervisor. My responsibilities included opening and closing the store, being a key holder, handling banking and payroll, and training new employees (including said new hire). My education was in the field we worked in. Basically, I was worth less because I'm a woman."
"My experience, position, responsibilities, etc., were worth nothing because I am not a man."
—Anonymous, Michigan, 56
24."One of my bosses ordered me to take down a shelf. In terms of height, it hung over my head. Well, it turns out the shelf had some 'hidden goodies' on it, and they slammed into my eyes and glasses — making an absolute mess of both — as I took it down. My boss then took my glasses off my face, said they were chipped, and walked off with them. I am blind enough that I could not make out which blob was him in the sea of blobs. I expected him to come back with my glasses after cleaning them or something (because why else would you take someone's glasses?), but he still hadn't returned even after I cleaned my eyes out at the eye station. After an hour, someone led me to his office, where he said he had thrown out my glasses in the trash compactor. He claimed, 'You look much more attractive without your glasses. From now on, you will wear contact lenses.'"
"I immediately made an HR claim. Thank god that there were witnesses. They paid for a new set of glasses and the shitty emergency pair I needed in the meantime."
25."I was working at a small startup where the CEO's son, a lawyer, was the only HR we had. One of the developers had asked me out several times and wouldn't take no for an answer. At the same time, the marketing director gave me creepy vibes and stared at me a lot. When I expressed my concerns in a one-on-one with the HR rep, he said to me, 'Well, those are attractive people problems.'"
26."I was out for a business dinner with my boss and a client. We all ordered appetizers, and when mine came, my boss asked me, in front of our client, 'Do you know how many calories are in that?' He thought nothing of it as if that were a totally normal thing to ask someone. I can't imagine a situation where this would have been asked of one of my male coworkers."
27."I had been working in sales for almost 10 years and in Saas for five when I applied for a role at a new company that I was more than qualified for. I made it to the final round of interviews: A roundtable with three managers, all men. I was excited because I really wanted this job. Everything was going well until one manager, at the end of the interview, asked me 'if being a woman in sales, especially selling tech, was challenging' and asked me to give examples of how I've overcome this (overcoming being a woman!?) and how I plan to do the same in the role. I was almost too shocked to answer, but somehow, I said something and finished the interview. I left feeling completely worthless, and like no matter how qualified I was, I was 'just another woman' to these men."
"I then emailed my points of contact at the company and let them know what happened. I told them that because of this, I would not consider this position no matter what offer they sent my way.
To the company's credit, both the directors of HR and sales reached out with apologies and were both sincere. I was proud of myself for taking action, and it all worked out, as I have a much better job now. However, I do think about that asshole and hope he learned some kind of lesson."
28."I worked at a data center, and one of my tasks was to set up access cards. This required getting fingerprints on the door scanner and setting them up on the computer. One time, our sales guy had a group of four middle-aged white men who'd just bought some data center space, and he called me in to do the card setup. I stood off to the side while they finished talking. He then turned to me, turned back to the men with a smirk, and said in the smarmiest voice imaginable, 'Tryst here is going to take you guys into the back room for a few minutes, heh heh heh.' The entire table laughed in that gross way that makes you feel violated."
"It was awful. I went outside afterward, called my husband, and ranted for a few minutes. I am pleased to say that, at the end of the day, I confronted that asshole, told him that what he did was wrong, and made him apologize, including admitting that he was wrong and saying that he would never say anything like that again. It was so satisfying to see him look humiliated."
29."My former 60-year-old boss pulled me and another female coworker aside to speak to us. He wanted to talk about another female coworker — barely in her 20s — and didn't want to approach her himself. I asked what was wrong, and he said, 'Her face is really broken out. Haven't you noticed? I mean, it looks terrible, and she's got all those big, red sores. Can't you girls give her some makeup tips? It's just not pretty to look at, you know?' I was so stunned. My coworker and I just stared at him like, Are you serious? He just kept pleading for us to 'help' her look 'pretty.'"
"I finally told him that no, I could never say that to anyone and that it wasn't appropriate. I then walked away seething. Women aren't meant to just 'be pretty' for anyone."
—Anonymous, South Carolina, 36
30."I worked with another female account manager. My male boss was looking to hire a third account manager. When it looked like the female candidate was the better choice, he said he would have to buy an X-ray machine and keep it at work to give us all enough radiation that we wouldn't get pregnant and go off on maternity leave!"
31."I work in the construction business as a home remodeler and designer. When I was 19, I took an internship with a local home remodeling company so I could learn the ins and outs. One day, as we were walking through a sub-contractor bid meeting, one of our talented (and regularly used) contractors pulled out his tape measure, got right up next to me, and whispered in my ear, 'You know what 16 inches looks like?' I was so visibly uncomfortable and painfully shy then, so I said nothing and just laughed."
32."I'm a system architect with over 10 years of experience and almost 20 certifications for the main platform I focus on. About three months ago, I led a demo for a new functionality that my team member and I had built. There were about 12 other people on the call. Some were asking questions about how stuff worked, and I was answering them. It was going well. Then, this dude asks a question and prefaces it with, 'This is probably more a question for [male team member].'"
33."Way back in the day, sexual harassment was so standard. I did IT support and was, by far, the best performer at my job. I liked the work, but I had to deal with never-ending sexual harassment from male colleagues and managers. One of my managers used to actually write 'smile :)' on the internal workspace chat and then stare at me from across the room until I reacted. His name was Clyde. I eventually just stopped showing up. The CEO called me many times to get me back since they needed someone with my language. However, when I told him that the dudes were disgusting, he said he'd think about making my job WFH in the new business year."
34."I was running late one day, and I skipped putting on makeup so I could still be promptly on time. When I walked in, my male coworker said, 'Whoa! You're one of those women who really does need to wear makeup every day.'"
35."'You're not pretty enough to be this opinionated.'"
36."I was 16. The Clinton trial had happened a few years prior. My assistant manager, who was in his late 20s, literally cornered me and asked if I 'wanted to play Bill and Monica.' When I complained to our (female) manager and demanded not to be put on the same schedule as him anymore, she rolled her eyes and told me it would affect my hours."
37."I worked in retail at a department store when I was 16 and stayed there for almost two years. A 17-year-old coworker was there for a few months, and at one point, we were talking as I stood on something that then tipped back. I caught myself, but he looked at me and told me, 'It happened because you're fat.'"
"At the time, I was recovering from an eating disorder."
38."I had a manager who asked me how I felt about a major change to one of the programs I ran. I said I felt fine about it and that it was a change that needed to happen. He responded, 'No, you feel like your authority is being challenged, and we shouldn't change.' He then lectured me on why I shouldn't feel like that — which, to be clear, I did not."
"My mom always said nobody can tell you how to feel, but this squashed banana thought differently."
39."I had a manager I was training tell me, 'Why are you calling HR? I haven't even touched you yet.'"
"I was calling for a completely different reason, but it gave me a reason to call HR on him."
40."When I was in grad school, I told a male professor that I wanted to do research on sexual assault. Out of supposed concern for my future career, he discouraged this because 'there are a lot of men on hiring committees, and let's face it, men don't really care about that sort of thing.' When I told him that that's pretty terrible, he got defensive and said it's not terrible because 'why should men care about something that doesn't apply to them?'"
41."I work as an inventory specialist — receiving deliveries, heavy lifting, etc. Delivery drivers dropping something off will say, 'Where are the men?' or 'Are the men on lunch?' The most recent comment: I was wearing work gloves, and one said, 'Oh, just stand aside. Don't want you breaking a nail now.' Mind you, I'm built like Luisa from Encanto. One driver even calls me 'little lady' even though I'm much taller than him."
42."I work in a hospital. When a male nurse and I were in a patient's room, he looked down at my ankles and said, 'Oh, honey, don't you ever shave your legs? You really should...' Yes, he said this in front of the patient. I walked out of the room. Looking back, I wish I had told him right then and there how uncomfortable that made me feel and how inappropriate and unprofessional it was."
"It still makes me mad when I think about it."
43."When I was 36, my boss (in his 50s) told me, 'Your personality is too kind and caring for an office atmosphere.'"
—Anonymous, New Hampshire, 68
44."After mentioning how it's important to prioritize nonviolent communication amongst peers to my resident advisor staff, he told me, 'I just can't respect you as a supervisor or a leader. You're supposed to be catty. That's what boss women do. You're too nurturing.' He then went out of his way not to do any of his contractual RA tasks — sans attending staff meetings."
"I was 21; he was 19."
—Anonymous, North Carolina, 25
45."I used to work in a place that required a lot of phone interaction with clients when I was 23. My 52-year-old manager, who was two levels above me, asked if I was using a sexy, low voice and then proceeded to do said voice."
46."'You are too outgoing to be successful, and that makes you a liability.'"
47."A male superior of mine pulled me into an official meeting because he thought I was 'spiky.' His reasoning? When he came in in the mornings, I didn't always ask him how he was."
48."I was 21 and had just started working at this restaurant. Our uniform was a white shirt with a logo. One day, I realized I had forgotten to wear a bra. I pulled my female coworker aside and asked her if we could switch aprons — hers went around the neck and covered the chest, while mine only went around the waist — and privately explained why. I didn't realize my boss, the restaurant owner, had followed us to the hallway and was standing in earshot. He started laughing, pulled my arms apart from where they were tightly crossed against my chest (so no one would see), and called the other employees and his wife, the co-owner, to look at how funny it was...in the middle of the restaurant. In front of everyone, he told me that I would poke someone's eye out."
"To say I was mortified would be an understatement."
49."When I was 25, we flew in our insurance brokers to meet with us regarding our upcoming renewals. My manager introduced me to the main broker, who was in his 50s. All he said while shaking my hand, looking me up and down, and making eye contact with only my male manager was, 'Wow, aren't you lucky?'"
—Anonymous, British Columbia, 36
50."I was training for a new job at a café in a rich gym. The new assistant manager — and by new, I mean he started the week before I did — treated me like the dumbest person ever. He was an asshole, so I assumed he treated everyone that way until I saw an interaction between him and a male coworker. He treated him like a king. During my training, he showed me the smoothie bar (keep in mind, I've worked at a smoothie restaurant before) and explained the ingredients to me — this man had the audacity to explain ORANGE JUICE to me. He said, 'Now, I know this might be confusing, but this is orange juice. We make it by diluting a concentrate.' I was shell-shocked. He did it for many other ingredients, even explaining that I have to take the peel off of a banana before using it. The smoothie bar wasn't even part of my job."
51."On a video call with multiple people — wherein I was the only woman on the call and the only woman in a position of authority — I was told by a client, 'For someone so pretty, you sure are smart and reasonable.' They thought it was a compliment."
—Anonymous, California, 38
52."I'm an MD. A 54-year-old male doctor saw me with a dishcloth and said, 'What are you using that for? You are a kitchen fugitive,' meaning that my place was in the kitchen."
—Anonymous, Mexico, 25
53."I was told that the field I was in was for 'stodgy old men' and that I 'should bend over and take' the criticism I received (about my writing)."
"I was in my early 20s at the time, and this man was in his 50s."
—Anonymous, Alabama, 37
54."After not getting the answers he wanted, this 50-year-old man asked to 'talk to the man in charge of me.' He wanted me to bend the policies, ignore the fact he had repeatedly failed the certification exam, and issue him the certification anyway. I was 25 at the time and immediately hung up. I then told my boss I refused to talk to him again."
—Anonymous, Wisconsin, 35
55."I was in college taking an advanced probability class. There were around 30 students, and I was the only woman there. The professor asked me to solve a problem on the board, so before standing up, I looked at my notes. In front of everyone, he said I was a clear example of why women should be assigned simpler tasks, like cooking or cleaning. One friend gave me a sympathetic look, but the rest laughed."
56."At 27, I was hired to an engineering position by a married man, who was at least 40 years old, with children. Before I started, he called and asked to spend a night at my place because his car broke, and I refused. The next morning, he said he was excited to hire me but now thinks he made a mistake and that I won't do well. I still did my job, as I had quit my last one. At my next engineering job: 'Are you the new engineer? Good, make us coffee.' An office manager also told me it'd be my duty to do dishes for management when she's away because I'm the only girl. Another older male colleague overheard me saying that I value my time and replied, 'You'll assign value to your time once you work as a prostitute.'"
"I left the field after two years."
57."I was 25 and working as a receptionist in construction. The head of accounting called me 'Legs.' He followed it up with, 'I'm 84 and married, but I still notice.' This was after he compared my weight to the middle-aged HR woman's weight, which was uncomfortable for the two of us. After telling my female boss, she and the HR woman tried to place the blame on my choice of clothing, saying that it broke the dress code. However, it had been fine for the multiple weeks before he'd said anything."
"I ended up quitting the job before the week was over."
—Anonymous, California, 26
58."'I know it's inappropriate to ask, but do you think your pregnancy hormones are affecting your ability to do your job?'"
"This was said to me by a 63-year-old man when I was 37."
—Anonymous, United Kingdom, 42
59."I work as a paralegal. While wearing slacks and a turtleneck, a 42-year-old man told me, 'You should consider not wearing such form-fitting clothing. You're going to make it hard for everyone to focus.'"
—Anonymous, California, 25
60."I worked as an engineer and, for a while, worked with contractors. When I was 23, one of the (at least) 60-year-old contractors said, 'Come sit on my lap, and I will spank you for that.' This was because I'd said something that was slightly incorrect. Mind you, I was fairly new and had a lot to learn, and this was in a private office with just the two of us."
—Anonymous, Georgia, 27
61."The day I returned to work after my wedding, a male colleague asked me, 'So, now that the wedding is done, are you going to start trying for a baby?' Firstly, isn't that just a strange way of asking if we're having lots of sex? Secondly, this guy had no idea of my health, finances, or even opinion on wanting kids. Thirdly, not one person in my husband's workplace has ever asked him if we'll be having kids."
"Men, please stop asking women when they are going to get pregnant."
—Anonymous, United Kingdom, 33
62."I had hyperemesis gravidarum with my pregnancy, so I missed a lot of work and was ultimately put on bed rest. One day, before I had to stop working, I was sorting files in the main office. At one point, I coughed, which led to me gagging. My boss — a man old enough to be my grandfather — said, 'I don't feel sorry for you, you know. You did this to yourself. No one told you to go out and have sex and get pregnant.' It was so wildly inappropriate that I just ignored it because anything I said back was bound to get me fired."
"Also, I'm married and was married then, too — not that it would matter if I wasn't. Ugh."
—Anonymous, Missouri, 25
Thanks for reading about all of their experiences. Have you had similar things said to you? Share your thoughts and experiences in the comments below.