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10:52 AM Sun, Sept. 23rd

Dear Annie: Finding a voice in the workplace

Dear Annie: I work in a predominantly male workplace. I am a middle-class woman in my mid-20s in Southern California, and I feel as if I’ve always had my voice heard. However, earlier this year, I started working on an Air Force base, and I’ve noticed some drastic changes. Though every person I work with has been unfailingly friendly, there is one issue I can’t ignore. I am not taken seriously. I don’t really have much of a voice, and nobody seems to think of me as somebody with opinions.

The only reasoning that I can see behind this is the fact that not only am I one of the youngest employees but I am a woman. Is sexism in the workplace really still an issue in 2016? I’m educated and more than qualified for my job, and I get along really well with all of my co-workers -- yet whether it’s in a meeting or on the floor, it seems as though I never get a turn. A few of my female co-workers get to chime in at meetings, but they’ve been there for years.

What should I do about this? Do I bring it up even though I feel as though that might only make matters worse? Is this a work situation that I should stay in, or is it an issue that is worth quitting my job over? I consider myself a feminist, and I want my actions to speak just as loudly as my words. – Workin’ Girl

Dear Girl: It’s time to woman up. Look for proof that you’re being victimized and you will always find it. Does sexism still exist in the workplace? Sure. And if your colleagues were actively discriminating against you and making sexist remarks, I would say pack up that briefcase and head for more progressive pastures.

But they’re not. From everything you’ve said, your co-workers sound friendly and supportive. Your situation is probably more about your age and newbie status than it is about your gender.

At meetings, when you have something to say, don’t wait for a perfect space in the conversation. Just speak up. Do that consistently and you’ll carve out a space for yourself. In the workplace and in life, if you wait for your turn, it may never come.

Dear Annie: I met my friend Marissa through our neighborhood dodgeball league. I was immediately attracted to her, but she had a boyfriend at the time, so I quickly dropped any thoughts of romance. But we got along really well, and conversation flowed naturally. We became close friends.

Fast-forward two years. We recently both became single, and I sensed our friendship taking a turn. I decided to finally ask her out on a date. It was a little awkward – not because the date was a bad call (it was clearly an idea we were both interested in) but because this is now uncharted territory. I’m not sure how to move past the friend zone. When I pick her up for the date, do I honk once I’m outside as I usually do when I pick her up, or do I have to go to the door now? Am I supposed to buy her flowers? How do I date somebody who is already my friend? I feel as if I’ve gone back to high school! – Scared

Dear Scared: This is one ball you don’t want to dodge. Friendship is the most valuable quality you can ask for in a partner, and you already have it!

So yes, walk to her door to pick her up; show her your romantic side. But don’t sweat the small stuff too much. She already knows you well and likes you. This sounds like the start of a winning relationship.

Send your questions for Annie Lane to dearannie@creators.com. To find out more about Annie Lane and read features by other Creators Syndicate columnists and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.