Until last week, I was a trainee at DGCOMM. One can find oneself in a kind of crazy spiral once a traineeship has ended. Several questions arise: where to apply, what is the next career move or how to find your way in today’s world.
I am only 23 years old; therefore, I have quite a long career ahead of me. However, during the last months of my traineeship, I found myself in a few unsettling situations. I was having drinks with staff members from my unit and suddenly one of the male colleagues in his 50’s came to me and started asking me about my plans after the traineeship.
I had barely spoken to him during my traineeship; therefore, we did not have a close relationship. He started telling me that if I wanted to stay in the European Parliament, I should go after “all men, like him, and use my ‘beautiful skills’ that I have as a young, and pretty woman”. At that moment, I did not know how to react. Now when I think about the moment, I really wish I said something. He then continued telling me how I should go to elderly men’s offices and say that I want a contract and that I am willing to do “anything” to achieve it. He told me to say to the men that I am a lesbian, quoting him “because you know, that turns us on even more”. I was utterly disgusted. It was the first time that something like this was happening to me. Of course, he also suggested going after certain Directors from certain DGs in the European Parliament. He told me that if I were intelligent, I would follow his advice.
After saying I had to go home, I went to one of my colleagues in complete shock, and she told me that he had a reputation of trying to flirt with colleagues at work and trying to touch them inappropriately.
How can a person like this continue to work in the European Parliament? I remember getting home and starting to cry because of how vulnerable and terrible he made me feel. How small he made me feel. How he had the audacity to start telling me these things without even knowing me, which only made me reflect on how belittling he acted towards me.
I know who I am, and I know what my values are that is why I would never engage in behaviour like this nor would try to go down that road just to land a job in the institutions. Sadly, if this person had said this to a woman that is unsure of her future, insecure and with a different perspective, he could have pushed her to go down that road.
My friends told me to talk to Human Resources; however, I just did not have the energy to do so. In addition, different colleagues from my Unit told me how disgusting he was, but did not do or say anything at all, so why should I or anybody else stand up against these perpetrators.
Until I reached your website, simply through Twitter, I thought about sharing my story with other women, rather than just with my friends. I wish as women did not have to go through these things, but sadly, it is a reality, at least in the European Parliament.