Sex Bias in the Sales Force

Two women sue their company for 'macho, frat-boy atmosphere' and promotion prejudice.

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This week, the Wall Street Journal ran a front-page story about a gender bias lawsuit filed against a data-storage company by two saleswomen.

Headlined "Tech and Testosterone; a Data-Storage Titan Confronts Bias Claims," the story recounted what it's like for women to work in the testosterone-laden technology sales industry.

The article portrays the sales culture at this corporation and indeed in the industry as a whole as "a macho, frat-boy atmosphere" in which corporate-subsidized trips to strip clubs are de rigueur and intimidation of and discrimination against women occur all too frequently.

In the lawsuit, one of the plaintiffs claims that when she was up for a promotion, she was asked why she needed to earn more money since she was married. One of the plaintiffs also recounts she closed an approximately $6 million deal but was informed she should assign the credit to a male salesperson because "he has a family to feed."

What's possibly even more fascinating is the response from readers when Sara Schaefer Munoz of the Journal blogged about the story. She asked readers whether working mothers are given credit as breadwinners in corporate America or whether this lawsuit represents an isolated incident. Her blog, called The Juggle, was deluged with responses from women recounting how they have received similar treatment in their workplaces.