Obviously in recent times, we've heard a lot more about the injustices done to women and some men in work environments due to sexism and harassment. You would think with so much policy on book, and trainings that happen to help tamp these things down, that no one would try these things or be so completely ignorant about sexism in the workplace but it happens.
In one of my first jobs ever working the Christmas rush as a young teen, I worked in a big box retail store kind of like a smaller scale Wal-mart. Our required uniform was a white company polo, khaki pants, and white or black shoes. When I applied for the job, I actually applied to work freight which was basically getting stuff ready and out of boxes in the back to be put on the floor. Despite there being no real qualifications needed for the position other than ability to work legally and lifting 30lbs, I was basically steered directly towards being a cashier as my only option by the hiring manager. Fine. I needed the money to save up for college.
I got the cashier job, along with 3 other girls quickly noting that only women worked the floor and all the guys were in the back or maintenance or in tools. The job was just non-stop, all day, customer after customer. We had to stand on our feet all day, we could not lean on anything and we were not allowed to sit during our 8-10 hour shifts. I would come home and just soak my feet and lay on my back because even being young, just being in that fixed position all day was a lot.
So imagine our surprise when we had a morning meeting and it was announced that beginning the following week, all female employees would be required to wear knee length skirts and high heels to further help us create a more professional look. WHAT?!? I had to take a physical step back up and out of my body, because this guy was telling us we looked unprofessional which was definitely ironic considering we were wearing the same exact uniform as he was and ALL the male staff were too, so if we looked so unprofessional, what did they look like, and why did their uniforms not change to I don't know, a suit?
Even back then, I knew this was clear sexism, and not only that, this guy having never presumably worn a pair of heels in his life, had no clue about how painful that would be to do for 8-10 hours solely on your feet. Not only that, we worked in a booth...all....day....long. No one even saw us from the waist down and at various points in the day if no one was available, we had to climb high stair ladders for customers to get down items on high shelves which would be very awkward in a skirt.
Knowing that I could potentially be fired, I talked this over with my fellow cashiers, all of whom were female, go figure, and basically rallied the troops for safety in numbers. It was a do or die thing for me to not have to endure even more physical pain for LITERALLY no reason other than I was a girl. So the next day, I went into the bosses office and I broke it all down how it was completely unfair (I refrained from using the sexist word) and that it made no sense given all that I explained and yes, even pointed to HIS uniform. I even said if need be, I would contact corporate to explain all this because I assumed (rightly or not) that this had not come down from the home office. I couldn't tell if he was paying attention or cared or was readying to fire me, but after me, a few other girls went in with the same complaints.
Three days later, we were no longer required to wear high heels or skirts to do our job and I learned a very valuable lesson about what can happen if you don't allow things like this to stand when you know they are wrong. It is a lesson that has helped me out in so many areas of my life because if no one says or does anything in these situations, you, not them, are allowing them to continue to go on unchecked, and who does that end up hurting?