Analyze the different ways that sexist behavior is handled in the formal and informal bureaucracy.

You are a student employee who overhears conversations among your coworkers. While on break, two of your male coworkers usually go off by themselves and smoke a cigarette. These recently hired coworkers are in their first semester and have just graduated from high school. Sometimes you overhear bits and pieces of their conversations. You are concerned that they regularly have conversations that are inappropriate for the workplace. You have overheard these coworkers making crude sexual references about other employees, telling sexist jokes, and sharing images and graphics of a sexist nature on their cell phones. You seek advice on how to handle the situation from others at your workplace.



You need to decide if you want to file a formal complaint. If you do, the matter will be investigated. If what you say can be substantiated then the young men will be reprimanded. That usually results in their employment being terminated and their student loans/financial aid may be in put in jeopardy.


Shirley Wright

Manager of Student Employees



I don’t care what your boss says; this is inappropriate behavior for the workplace, even if they are on break. They should learn to stop this kind of behavior before they graduate. It’s the sort of thing that could get you fired in the real world. If I were you, I would, informally, have a word with them and tell them that I was offended. Once they have been informed that they offended someone, they may decide to change their behavior on their own.


Ron DesVue

30-year-old veteran, student and classmate



Hey, you got a smart phone, don’t you? First thing I’d do is record their conversation on my phone. Don’t let them know you’re recording it. The next time they have one of those conversations tell them that you find it offensive and ask them to stop it. If they refuse or give you a hard time, tell them that you have a recording of their sexist comments and you’ll take it to the boss. They don’t need to know how the boss feels; the threat should be good enough to get them to stop, at least when you are around.


Hugh Jim Bissell

Close friend since high school and current classmate



Let’s not turn this into a federal case. I’d say as long as they’re having these conversations in private, among themselves then it’s not any of your business. After all, boys will be boys. These are young, single men, and this is a way that they bond, work out frustrations, and blow off steam. Look, it’s not like they’re making racist remarks. In that case, I definitely go straight to the boss, even higher up the chain of command, if I needed to. After all, who hasn’t told a dirty joke now and then? As long as they keep it on the down low, it’s no big deal.


Frieda Choose

Close friend and classmate




In a 500-word (minimum) essay, using the concepts that you learned from this week’s readings analyze the different ways that sexist behavior is handled in the formal and informal bureaucracy. The following questions should answered in the essay.

The following questions should be answered in the essay.

  • Does Shirley Wright’s comment make you more or less likely to file a formal complaint? Do you agree with the likely punishment? If not, what alternative punishment would you suggest?
  • Do you agree with Ron DesVue’s perspective where he says you should speak to the individuals? Why or why not?
  • Do you agree or disagree with Hugh Jim Bissell on using your smart phone to make a recording? Why or why not?
  • Should you take Frieda Choose’s advice that “boys will be boys,” and that there is a general expectation that men will occasionally behave badly, and so long as the behavior is kept between privately, it should be ignored? Why do you think she distinguishes between sexist remarks and racist remarks? Explain your answer.
  • Is there a problem with the organization in the scenario above? If so, what should be done to provide a long-term solution to the problem?
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