There’s a paradigm of a hostile climate based on gender
Sexual harassment is a primary definition by the EEOC of a hostile work environment. The most publicized cases of discrimination involve women who have been propositioned for sexual favors in the workplace. Women and men can experience this kind of favoritism that results in a tangible change of status or benefits by their employer. This abusive behavior can be displayed by any employee or independent contractor, not necessarily a supervisor, to be relevant in creating a hostile work environment. Third party filings for sexual harassment are acceptable in order to protect the complainant from retaliation.
Read more: EEOC Hostile Work Environment Definition | eHow.com http://www.ehow.com/about_5402802_eeoc-hostile-work-environment-definition.html#ixzz2AQ1J2apY
If you are considering complaining against gender based discrimination, there are a couple of problems you may encounter unless there’s been something like attempted sexual contact. One is the sheer ignorance you may encounter. Unbelievable as it may seem, people working with legal aspects of gender discrimination complaints for decades may think that if another woman is involved in actions against you, then that’s a reason for doubting it is gender discrimination.
More importantly, since there’s no law against people being assholes, how do you make the case that it’s gender discrimination, not plain assholery? Given, again, there was nothing sexual about the occasions.
One way is to point out a pattern of unequal treatment. So if the guys are being paid more for equal or lesser work, or they get support that you don’t, you can cite that. This means, as the site above says, you want to document things, such as the days when the profs invited the guys for a beer after a talk, but not the women.
I’m hoping that others who have dealt with this problem can step in with some good advice. And if you think you are heading from trouble, the simple advice on the site mentioned above is worth taking very seriously.
[I wrote this after reading one person's reaction to the What's it like site. She was moved to tears. It is awful to think that all the not-advertly-sexual behavior reported could be judged simple assholery. Life can be made intolerable, but that's legally ok? Even though any academic woman would see the sexism very quickly?]