This was on the phone, I don't know who it was with. Might have been a personal call. It wasn't hostile or ragey, just general old man crap about how "women always tear each other down" and how "wives are hysterical."

If I gave my general opinion of men, or even a small percentage of it, anywhere within remote earshot of any of my coworkers I'm reasonably certain I'd be fired. So I don't do that.

This guy isn't my supervisor but I do have to interact with him fairly frequently.

I'm assuming the answer is the usual "shut up and deal with it" as always, but I'm wondering if any ladies here have tips or success stories about handling this kind of garbage. The workplace is mostly male-dominated, but there are a few women on my team who have a little bit of power. All higher-ups with actual power are, of course, male.

Edit: I honestly thought this was a one-off thing, but he's on another sexist personal call right now. And it is very loud. I'm not making any effort whatsoever to listen.

  • in which country?
    – Sascha
    Jun 15, 2022 at 17:24
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    Is it just on the phone, or has he shown signs of sexism in face to face interactions? Separately, what is his typical demeanor when interacting with the general public? As far as we know, this could have several disparate explanations; he may be sexist or he may be just saying what his friend wanted to hear. Anyway, since you're looking for ladies' tips I'll hold back. Jun 15, 2022 at 17:37
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    Have you asked your manager to tell him to keep his personal phone conversation volume down ? (Perhaps, at least or at the first step, the manager can email the whole team to ask everyone to keep their personal conversations on the phone at low volume so that they will not affect other people's work productivity). Jun 15, 2022 at 20:31
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    Do you know the actual content of his conversation? To me it appears overreacted to name the cited phrases "sexist" without really knowing what he talked about.
    – puck
    Jun 16, 2022 at 7:59
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    For a question that complains about sexist remarks, it is quite funny that it is filled with sexist remarks itself.
    – user135437
    Jun 17, 2022 at 12:39

4 Answers 4


Report it to HR

If you overheard him say "women always tear each other down" or "wives are hysterical" in the office, you should report that to HR.

It doesn't matter that he was on a personal call or he didn't say it directly to you. He said it in the office, in your earshot. HR might not do anything with that information, but they would absolutely appreciate it being reported.

  • 1
    At some point, you must stop relying on authority and talk to each other. So don't go to HR first, talk to him, you know, like how human being used to be. Jun 16, 2022 at 11:14
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    @Itération122442 human beings shouldn't have loud sexist rants in the office - if he struggles with this one professional consideration, is it worth getting into a confrontation with him? Many people only respect authority, and asking for their consideration can be more damaging than helpful.
    – LeLetter
    Jun 16, 2022 at 16:44
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    Talk != confront. If he does not agree to stop, go to HR (that is why there is "first" in my sentance). Moreover, authority is not only hierarchical. Jun 17, 2022 at 5:43
  • +1 My only reservation being that HR may share his disgraceful views. Jun 17, 2022 at 14:48
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    @Itération122442 Alright, for all the dudes who would rather have someone confront them: if you see this happening in your office, go ahead and confront the guy. If he listens to you, you're doing everyone a favor by taking the heat. If he doesn't, and he retaliates, which is a thing that happens, then you'll understand where I'm coming from.
    – LeLetter
    Jun 17, 2022 at 22:14

I'm not a lady, but I recommend attracting his attention, and asking him to do his personal phone calls in a place where he isn't disturbing the entire office.

The good thing about this strategy that even male management will want their employees to work while they are in the office, and thus take a dim view on people disrupting the work of others, and therefore have your back.

My recommendation would be different if that person were managing, or otherwise in a position of power, over female employees, or you in particular. For instance, if that person were considered as prospective lead for your team, I'd recommend saying that you feel uncomfortable being managed by someone with such a poor view of women. But as long as his biases don't impact you or other employees, I would let his private live remain private, and only address the ranting, but not the content of the rant.

  • 1
    This is really good advice honestly. If he takes another loud phone call of any kind I might ask him to pipe down or take them elsewhere. It's quite disruptive.
    – ribs2spare
    Jun 15, 2022 at 17:41

There are two possible problems to solve here, and you may want to try the least confrontational solution first.

#1 His loud and personal phone calls are easily overheard.

If he wasn't taking personal calls in the office, or wasn't loud enough to hear, would you have an issue with his idiotic personal beliefs? Probably not, right? This is the approach I would take since it's the least confrontational. Check your workplace policies about personal calls and report him to HR if they are forbidden. Don't mention the content of the calls unless there's a clause about "no politics", because it doesn't matter. If he's a quiet idiot at least he'd be more tolerable, right?

#2 You want him to change his belief structure about women.

Good luck. I wish we had the power to enlighten idiots.


Before doing anything else, check your employer's policy on harassment/conflict resolution (assuming they have one). The advice will usually be something along the lines of "try to resolve it individually first" (e.g. as discussed in this answer) followed by "if that doesn't work, talk to HR or his manager".

If at all possible, try to work through the process set out in that policy. As part of that, make a note of these phone conversations (date and time, relevant bits of what he said) and the steps you took; when contacting others, do it by email and keep a copy. If possible, BCC it to a home email.

The most likely outcome of talking to him/HR/manager is that he grumbles and pipes down a bit, in which case these other steps are unnecessary.

But occasionally this kind of behaviour escalates, either on its own, or if he resents being asked to put a sock in it. If one of those things happens, it's important to be able to document events and show that you followed process. Otherwise it's easy for management to shrug and say "well we had a system for dealing with this kind of thing, and you didn't use the system".

Since you're in the USA, your HR people will probably be aware of the concept of a "hostile work environment". His behaviour doesn't yet qualify as a HWE but it's starting to tick off some of the boxes: behaviour based on protected characteristic (gender), possibly pervasive (if he keeps on with these calls), employer aware (once you email them about it). If HR are aware of that, they may be motivated to see that he doesn't tick off any more of them.

  • I think there's some useful advice here. Document document document!
    – LeLetter
    Jun 17, 2022 at 22:17

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