Many gains have been made in the fight sexism at work, but the battle is not over. Not all women can succeed in their roles–this can be due to push back from male coworkers who hold old-fashioned views about the role of women.

These outdated opinions not only hold women back from being hired, but they also affect their careers. This year a Massachusetts firefighter was passed over when it came time to select a new captain. Even though she scored higher than a male coworker on an exam and had a good record, he received the promotion. The town’s fire department has never had a woman in the role. She has now had to take legal action against the city for the biased methods used when choosing who to promote.

What if my job denied me a promotion because of my gender?

It can be a devastating feeling to think your job passed you over for a promotion because of your gender. You may have had more experience and a better record, but somehow the hiring manager deemed a male coworker more qualified. You should try speaking to people who hold power in your workplace and express your concerns. While doing this, it is crucial to document the steps that you are taking and how each meeting goes. Doing so will provide evidence for the future. In general, you should try to escalate the issue in this order, going on to the next if it is:

  • Discuss the problem with your boss.
  • Bring the problem to HR.
  • Seek an attorney.
  • File a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).

Sometimes the only way to seek recourse is through the legal system. Luckily, that’s why it exists. The EEOC may also be able to investigate your case. No woman should have to be the victim of sexism.