I offer this real-life, overheard example 1 of subtle sexism in our society:
In the midst of a discussion about the devaluation of college degrees (prompted by this article), a man told me (emphasis mine):
“That reminds me of my sister-in-law. She’s just drop-dead gorgeous, you know. But she got a summer job working as an electrician from her dad, and then later on became an apprentice and still works as an electrician today.
I kept waiting for the sister-in-law’s appearance to have anything to do with the story. It never did.
Nobody commented on it – and few people even realized it’d been said. But the reverse – randomly commenting on a relative’s hotness – would have been very, very strange if the relative was a woman.
I don’t think anything was “meant” by it, or that it was even intentional. I’m pointing at it as a symptom of the sexism embedded in our society.
1 As always, where and when I overheard it, along with who said it, may or may not be completely changed around. The intent is the same.