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This is not the first time I've seen a question like Casual sexism at work? receive a pile-on of comments and answers explaining to the OP that they're not really experiencing sexism (or, for bonus points, are being sexist for assuming the motivation in their co-workers).

While the question could do with more details and more examples from the OPs point of view, I don't think this is a very welcoming response to a new community member who may really need some help and guidance.

In particular, the various "you're not experiencing sexism" comments are swamping a legitimate request for more details and clarification.

Surely it's better to assume that the OP may actually be experiencing sexism, and that asking for more details will help garner answers that could actually help rather than dismiss her situation?

As a man myself, I'm rather disappointed that these very negative responses seem to be all coming from men.

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    "sexism" is in the eyes of the beholder, but it should be 100% valid to ask 'this thing at work maked me uncomfortable, what do?' without getting "thing is not real" comments/answers – aaaaa says reinstate Monica Feb 21 at 5:52
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    Initial thoughts: There is a lot to unpack there and as with any XY problem sometimes answers to questions challenge the OP's interpretation of their situation. Those answers can be legitimate and when they're about sensitive issues like this both comments and answers need to handle that tactfully. I've nuked most of the comments but the answers themselves could also be construed as overly harsh. Ultimately, any discrimination of any kind whether in comments or answers should be flagged for our attention or edited out if possible. – Lilienthal Feb 21 at 8:59
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    Comments happen. Apparently, the OP got a good enough answer that they accepted it. It's always difficult when someone writes a question stating a conclusion (like "sexism") then elaborates with details that make some question that conclusion. I understand your disappointment, but what could be done about such comments/answers? – Joe Strazzere Feb 21 at 12:13
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    It would probably be better if the OP had gone one of two ways. 1) "I feel that I am experiencing sexism, what could I do about it?" or 2) "Here is what is occurring, is that sexism?" Instead, the OP blended these two questions. No surprise that generates more comments. – Joe Strazzere Feb 21 at 12:17
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    The combination "being a new user" and "talking about sexisim against women" is a bad combination on this website.. – guest Feb 21 at 21:03
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    In general, answers often suggest that an OP is creating an XY problem or reaching a wrong conclusion. It's pretty hard to say "you're not allowed to suggest that if the question is about sexism!" – Mars Feb 25 at 7:29
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    @guest, yes, that's true. A game-fied Q/A forum filled with rigid-thinkers who work in technology isn't a good place for questions that require empathy and a willingness to see things from the point of view of the asker. Even the most boilerplate-y HR-written employee manual gives better advice than most people have given for this question. – teego1967 Feb 26 at 11:31
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Ultimately, I agree with the comment @JoeStrazzere made, and I think it cuts to the heart of the matter: when someone posts both the details and the conclusion they've drawn, they will inherently get feedback about whether or not their conclusion is correct, even if that wasn't the actual question asked.

You asked,

Surely it's better to assume that the OP may actually be experiencing sexism, and that asking for more details will help garner answers that could actually help rather than dismiss her situation?

I do think that's true to an extent, more details are always helpful. In the absence of details, I personally feel that it's usually best to respect the actual question asked. It's notable that the OP didn't specifically ask "is this sexism" so I don't really feel it's appropriate to concentrate on that, especially given the lack of details. From a perspective of trying to be helpful, telling her that it is, or isn't, sexism isn't really actionable and doesn't really actually help.

Although the OP has already accepted an answer, I feel like the best approach to this question would have been to set the "is it" judgement aside, and instead focus on actionable things the OP can do to "cope" since that was her actual question in the first place. Or maybe preface an answer with, here are some thoughts about how you can determine if this is actually sexism or not, and here's what you should do if you feel it is. But, to answer your question about coping, here are some things you can do to address the actual problems you're facing...

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    The combination of a title with a question mark ("Casual sexism at work?") and text in the body (with another question mark) that says "I don’t really know if this is actually sexism, but it’s really frustrating and I don’t know what else to call it?" leads people to infer that the question might be "is this casual sexism?" when it's possible that what is actually going on here is that the OP is one of those people who says everything with a rising tone, which in (American, at least) English indicates a question, and they end up typing in the manner in which they speak. – shoover Feb 27 at 21:50
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I'll weigh in as the one with the accepted answer on the original post.

While the question could do with more details and more examples from the OPs point of view, I don't think this is a very welcoming response to a new community member who may really need some help and guidance.

We can only go on the details provided in the question - and there's nothing in those details which, to me anyway, indicate sexism. Could their be context missing that changes the outcome? Of course, as there could be for many questions. But:

  • The OP is clearly unclear if she's even experiencing sexism (note "I don’t really know if this is actually sexism, but it’s really frustrating and I don’t know what else to call it");
  • There's a situation described that seems to just be a simple misunderstanding (admittedly badly phrased question with a legitimate simple answer);
  • There's a claim of mansplaining that doesn't fit the generally accepted definition of mansplaining (not being dismissive, but explaining something in an overly patronising way.)

Yes, I'm rather blunt. Perhaps too blunt in this case. I'll call a spade a spade, and I'm the first to admit I don't necessarily handle sensitive topics... well, sensitively. Some people hate that, others appreciate it. Could I have been more welcoming in my tone? Almost certainly. Should I have refrained from answering at all until more details were provided? Yes, quite possibly. Could I be outright wrong? Of course.

But equally, I don't believe that assuming sexism is occurring, solely because it's a sensitive topic, is helpful either. In particular, unsubstantiated claims of sexism taken to a HR department or manager are unlikely to end well (any false claim of sexism is likely to backfire hugely, even if it was a simple misunderstanding rather than malice behind the claim.)

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    If there aren't enough details, ask for more... – HorusKol Feb 25 at 0:52
  • @HorusKol Yup, I'm pretty sure I admit that in my answer. Not saying I did the right thing. Just explaining my reasoning. – berry120 Feb 25 at 7:18
  • I think you're right in pointing out here that the OP is expressing uncertainty. I note, however, that this didn't stop you from declaring it "madness" for the OP cite sexism without providing "a lot more context." Using the word "madness" is actually blunt and also wrong. – teego1967 Feb 26 at 11:25
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It's worse than unwelcoming, and a huge issue.

It appears to me is that most people here have a very cartoonish view on how discrimination works. It seems that according to large parts of the stack exchange network users discrimination is this Evil Person, who reads two CVs, decides that A is best but then notices that A is part of [Group] and gleefully tosses it in the bin all while laughing manically. Either that or a company policy that says "No Girls Allowed" on top.

Should discrimination look like that it would be perfectly valid to judge by a case by case basis whether some specific action was discriminatory or not, but the reality is different.

Discrimination is small but accumulating biases in all of us, like valuing a women's scientific output as less meriting than it should be (https://www.cs.utexas.edu/users/mckinley/notes/ww-nature-1997.pdf), subconsciously adjusting the requirements for a position to better suit the CV with a male sounding name (https://ed.stanford.edu/sites/default/files/uhlmann_et_2005.pdf) or deciding to deny a rental request for a black airbnb guest (http://www.benedelman.org/publications/airbnb-guest-discrimination-2016-09-16.pdf).

This kind of discrimination is only visible on a statistical level. There is always enough unknowns to make any specific situation possible to explain in a thousand other different ways.

If we force everyone who suffers from sexism or racism in the workplace to present incontrovertible evidence before any assistance can be given we are not only unkind, but effectively prevent any fruitful discussion on how to handle discrimination.

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    If the Workplace SE forum was a place, I imagine it to have a huge sign "No girls allowed. Exceptions can be made for working in IT". Well spoken. – guest Feb 28 at 15:52

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