Professional Women Silenced by Men-Made Norms

79 Pages Posted: 17 Oct 2016

See all articles by Maritza I. Reyes

Maritza I. Reyes

Florida A&M University College of Law

Date Written: 2014


Many people question why professional women remain silent when we face workplace abuse, including discrimination and harassment because of sex, race, or a combination thereof. The assumption is that college-educated, professional women, certainly academics and lawyers, should be the best prepared to report inappropriate conduct and litigate violations of employment laws. However, the reality is that professional women are still pressured to remain in gendered places, including by remaining silent. Additionally, professional, workplace, community, and cultural norms make it even more difficult for some women to speak out. This Article seeks to provide information about why many professional women remain silent when we endure abuse, discrimination, and harassment in the workplace.

Employers, employees, judges, legislators, advocates, and the general public must be aware of the professional and workplace norms that silence professional women. This Article is an effort to challenge the popular myth that professional women have now reached equality in U.S. workplaces; that our conditions of employment are equal to men’s because if it were otherwise more women would complain. This way, the few women who dare to challenge, speak out, and even litigate their cases will hopefully not be treated as anomalies, discontents, disgruntled employees, and troublemakers. Furthermore, this Article proposes that men and women must make a conscious decision and effort to support women’s rights and equality in the workplace. Men and women can further the cause of equality through individual actions on a daily basis. Collective movements, after all, begin with the actions of individuals. Men and women must join together because the issues that women face are not “women’s issues”; they are society’s issues.

Keywords: women, equality, workplace, discrimination, feminist, feminism, silence, harassment, bullying, mobbing, women of color, sexual harassment, womanist, mujerista, employment, judiciary, judges, Title VII, movement, stereotype, cultural norm

Suggested Citation

Reyes, Maritza, Professional Women Silenced by Men-Made Norms (2014). Akron Law Review, Vol. 47, No. 4, 2014, Available at SSRN:

Maritza Reyes (Contact Author)

Florida A&M University College of Law ( email )

201 Beggs Avenue
Orlando, FL 32801
United States

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