Business of Men

The things men say to women at work


Despite all the training and supposed equality in the workplace, there are still issues about things men say to women colleagues. What is the worst thing a man has ever said to you in business?

Really think about it… about those little comments that seem innocuous but they wouldn’t dream of saying to a male colleague. Did they comment about your weight, your love life or maybe your looks?

Despite all the emphasis on equality in the workplace, it still seems quite common for men to make inappropriate remarks to women. And it’s surprising just how offensive some of those comments can be.

We asked a number of successful women about the most offensive thing a man in has ever said to them in their workplace, and what they had to say will surprise you. 

  1. One woman shared that upon resigning from her job she had an encounter with her former boss while he was drunk. You’ve probably heard the saying, ‘Drunken words are sober thoughts’? Which makes it all the worse that in his drunken state he informed her that the only reason she had a job in the first place was because she looked good in meetings.
  1. A lawyer told us how a former male client once said to her, ‘Why am I talking to a woman? I want a lawyer not a woman.’ His words revealed that he believes women should never (and can’t) be lawyers.
  1. Chris Crowe related how her daughter Samantha —, the 22-year-old founder of Crowes Nest Communications — found men at networking events would often tell her , ‘Oh you’re a pretty young thing, you won’t have any trouble getting clients.’ She also found they’d ask her if she had any qualifications or training; remarks that belittled or questioned her ability to start her own business.
  1. Anna James recalled a Skype meeting where her interviewee asked jokingly if pants were optional, clearly not taking her seriously as a professional.
  1. A woman (who prefers to remain anonymous) stated that while working in the music industry she became used to regularly being the target of offensive comments. However, there is always a line and it was crossed during a meeting with the manager of a venue she was planning an event with. At the time, she was managing a very high profile artist and during a phone call the manager asked her, ‘When you’ve finished sleeping with ‘Mr. X’, can I put my name down on the list?’
  1. Kate Horman spoke of the selection process she had to go through at her previous role where her final interview was with the Chairman and CEO. At the end of the interview they told her, ‘We think you’d be great for the role but our only reservation, aside from the fact that you’re female…’ Even though she was hired, those words were hard to forget.

These were just a few responses that we received, but they clearly highlight that no matter what industry you work in, there will always be men who won’t treat you professionally as an equal. Their attitude is all the more absurd when you factor in how many women are in business today. Women are not going to vanish from the business world, and you would think even the most dinosaurs of men would have realized that by now.

So for those men, here are a few notes. When women succeed in business, don’t believe that it’s because of their looks, or refuse to take them seriously. Women are here to stay, and here to succeed. Get used to it.

We think Wonder Woman says it perfectly…

Wonder Woman

About Natalie Cupac

Natalie Cupac Journalist & Features Writer for The Business Woman, Natalie Cupac is studying a double degree of Journalism and International Studies and has previously worked for Pacific Magazines

Recommended for you


  1. Mariana Seveille

    March 25, 2015 at 9:43 am

    It’s a pity we even have to worry about this.

  2. Jennifer Bucks

    March 25, 2015 at 10:02 am

    The thing is clearly to read between the lines.

  3. Melanie

    March 25, 2015 at 10:03 am

    I think she’s right about listening carefully to what they say.

What Do You Think?

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *