Take Two®

News and culture through the lens of Southern California. Hosted by A Martínez

3 ways to be an ally to women in the workplace

by Austin Cross and A Martínez | Take Two®

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Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., questions Attorney General Jeff Sessions testifies before the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence about his role in the firing of FBI Director James Comey and the investigation into contacts between Trump campaign associates and Russia, on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, June 13, 2017. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite) J. Scott Applewhite/AP

U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions faced some tough questions earlier this week when he appeared in front of the Senate Intelligence Committee.

One exchange stood out above all the others: the back and forth between Sessions and California Senator Kamala Harris.

https://youtu.be/RpjztYkNkO0?t=5m30s

The social media response was quick, with many saying that Harris was ultimately silenced because she's a woman.

https://twitter.com/DannyDeraney/status/874739703102095360

https://twitter.com/dinambar/status/874729250787663872

https://twitter.com/markwby/status/874736461328920576

Her colleague Senator Elizabeth Warren tweeted her support:

https://twitter.com/SenWarren/status/872514688390713345

Did gender play a role here?

Well, what we do know is that in workplaces across the country, women are often treated unfairly.

Here are three things that you can do about that, as told by Juliet Williams, professor of gender studies at UCLA.

Don't be dismissive

"It's easy to make jokes about mansplaining or microaggressions, or subtle sexism — to trivialize the harms that occur when people are treated disrespectfully," Williams says. "If somebody is not being talked to in a respectful way, take that seriously."

1. Speak up on their behalf

"We have to remember that sometimes when you're being put down, it's hard for you to take a stand," Williams says.

2. Apologize

"It's my sense that a lot of the troubles that we get into in the workplace have to do with the fact that people do things by mistake," Williams says. "They maybe do it thoughtlessly, and a lot of good could come from just saying, 'Hey, sorry I said that' or 'Sorry I said it that way.'"

3. Pro tip: Avoid savior mentality

The first two tips provide a framework for potential workplace allies, but Juliet Williams says how you approach a situation will always be key.

"I think the best thing to do in that situation isn't to say, 'I'm jumping in to protect this woman," Williams says. "It's to say, 'Wow, I just heard what you said, and I wouldn't like it if someone talked to me that way.' Try to make sure that you make space for everyone to have their own response but also that you recognize that people who are in the minority who are being treated disrespectfully can't always be expected to speak up when they should."

Press the blue play button to hear the full conversation.

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