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Sexism and Golf: How Males Colleagues Can Unintentionally Discriminate

Tags:  Co-Workers, Discrimination

There's an old wives tale, no one seems to know if it is true or not, that says that originally the word golf was actually an acronym for ""Gentlemen Only, Ladies Forbidden.""


How funny it would be if it were true considering how many business deals have been conducted over the sport and generally between male colleagues. And there's the rub. Golf has in fact been a very male-dominated venue for not only entertainment, but also for conducting business.


That's why it is interesting to find two postings on the Internet which relate to the sport and which point out the sexist underpinnings of the game.


One, written by a woman, spoke to the impact of working on a team where all the other members were male and having that majority decide to socialize over golf. Not only did they gather on a regular work day and not invite the female colleague to join them, she was actually left behind in the office to work while they enjoyed themselves.


The gist of her story was that she could have gotten angry and not said anything, but instead she chose to step up and let them know what they had done and how it made her feel. Surprisingly, the men were clueless as to the impact of their actions. Not one of them had given any thought to her feelings or to the fact that their behavior was sexist.


In the end the situation was corrected and each of her male colleagues appeared to gain a deeper understanding of how female (and other types of) stereotyping plays a big part in career opportunities.


In the second posting,  Stephen Hammond  B.A, LL.B, consultant, author, speaker and trainer working in the field of workplace human rights, tells of playing golf with a group of male friends and his surprise at the number of sexist comments they made.


They apparently made comments such as ""hit it like Ike"" in reference to Ike Turner's physical abuse against his former wife Tina Turner and quips about the slow pace of the game because there was a group of women ahead of them.

Stephen goes on to provide four steps you can take to eliminate sexist remarks and thinking.

  • You are not alone. Many times people will remain quiet when an inappropriate remark is made, when in fact others in the group are also thinking they should say something. Feel free to challenge sexist comments.
  • You can educate. Point out what is wrong with the comment or joke. You'll very probably find others agree with you, while the one who misspoke may be unaware of his blunder.
  • There is no one way. It doesn't need to be a confrontation or lecture. A simple remark is usually enough. In fact, a humorous retort might well get the point across best.
  • Be an ally. Out of fear of seeming like a complainer women may not say anything. Having a male colleague speak up can go a long way to help.

Stephen suggests choosing your battles wisely. You'll want to retain relationships with the people you work – and golf – with, so pointing out every minor slip may become irritating. However, words can make a difference. Someone else's as well as your own.


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