“Me, Too”– Non-Sexual Harrassment is Just as Toxic in the Workplace…Here Are a Couple of MY Stories…

By InsightAnalytical-GRL

As the media becomes saturated with the sexual “Me-Too’s” in the workplace, here’s a reminder that overt sexual misconduct isn’t the only thing going on out there. There are many other subtle…and not so subtle, ways in which women are blocked from advancement.

Here are some personal reminiscences:

I had my own experiences as the only woman mechanic/trainee back in the mid-80’s. I was inquiring about some adult school mechanics class and then…the community college involved recruited me hard because they “needed a woman” (I was already a trained piano tech). Sounded good….10 week of classroom/shop work, followed by 10 weeks at a car dealership.  So, the cycle started.

I was number 1 in the class, but instead of getting good jobs, I got the shop thug stuffing crap into the lock on my tool box (no reprimand for him) and the work dispatcher giving me water leaks on convertibles (yes, that’s true) even in my last semester. The shop foreman, a nice old guy, did ask me why I wanted to do this and I simply said…to make a buck.

When work was a bit slow, we would check the mechanics’ work for experience…I found leaking gasoline out of a carburetor before it was driven away and also a brake job that wasn’t done right and could have killed someone. I detected the source of a noise that a patron had brought in 3 times without it being found…I found it. It was the little donut between the exhaust manifold and the engine that was rattling…

The head of the program came in to protest about what was going on and even a few of my younger classmates knew I was being treated badly. At the end of the course, with my top of the class degree, I was offered NO work bay but “special” work dealing with “electrical problems.” This was before things got so computerized and all they told us to do was to through in a new power or logic module. There was no real analyzing….when I did, they told me it was “warranty work” so leave that inoperable cig lighter alone…No money in ripping out the dashboard under warranty, don’t you know?.

I was railroaded out of any money making jobs…I considered going to the EEOC…
I had a meeting with the big shot owner of the place, but in the end, I walked away form his phony “electrical” work and paid off my tuition.

Down the road in Pennsylvania,  there was a dealership that knew that women techs could be great and welcomed them but it was really far from where I lived. So, the only good memories I had of my dealership was that I was often requested by clients, even as a trainee, to do their oil changes, etc. because they knew I really didn’t over tighten and strip the oil pan screws and did actually check all the fluids, tires, etc….all in a speedy number of ticks…and that I probably save a couple of lives.

What’s worse is that jerks are still working out there who could kill you if they screwed up a job….attention to detail is a big plus when dealing with things that move…..
One good thing is that I know how not get screwed over by auto shops…and basically, now stick to my local VW dealer who is very good and good to me.

After that, I went to work in a parts store (no room at the dealership for me, although I had a degree that basically was all about inventory…library!) I went to a store….the boss got calls from the Ford dealership telling him I was the only one who ever had gotten the right engine gasket for them the first time…

Promo time? Went to a total asshole, of course…
Did some work at a VW shop in parts and enjoyed it, but the owner got sick and the job disappeared….but was always friends with the parts mgr. who went to another VW place…..So, some guys were super happy just to have someone with a brain working with them!

Ah, but “professional” corporations are so much better…not!! The “conservative” insurance industry is a case in point.  I transferred after training into an office in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Big mistake.

The department boss would glare at me from his glass cage with the evil eye…he hated me from day 1 when I told him where I had gone to school (one of the Ivy League places)…so, from then on, I didn’t get the required “assistance” for new underwriters and ultimately, I had producers asking when I would come out to visit…but I wasn’t allowed to go. The handwriting was on the wall.

The regional prejudice was rampant…I was asked by an the underwriter sitting in back of me for my opinion of whether she should underwrite a trucking company. This was because I was from NJ, had an Italian name, and that I “knew” something about how the Mafia worked.  I KID YOU NOT….

Don’t get me wrong…I met some nice people in Milwaukee but this office seemed rife with an obvious lack of “curiosity” about other parts of the country, to say the least. In terms of my actually being able to do my job?  I would say that I wasn’t exactly “brought along” and encouraged to “blossom.”

So, months later, I went to the big “flying up” meeting in Hartford, heard all the stories from other people, and knew my plan was the correct one.  I had already decided to leave…had driven my car out of there.  Once the meeting was over, I took my paperweight with the inscription on it, flew back to Wisconsin, and gave 2 weeks notice. Of course, giving notice isn’t always appreciated …they got me out of there so fast, it was amazing.   So packed up the apartment. and my brother flew out and we drove the U-Haul truck back to Jersey.

I actually did file a complaint about the reneging on the promised training/supervision, sat through a phone conference with the employment guy at the office and someone from somewhere, who knows where anymore,  but lost the case,  “of course”…

***

Somewhere in my files is a short story I wrote decades ago which was a jaded look at all the miserable jobs I had and the various forms of stupidity I dealt with….of course, the high point is where I was asked to get coffee by somebody higher up and I refused…but that’s a story for another day…

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