At that point, I went into poke the bear mode. There was just no way that I could let such an asinine assertion pass. So I pressed for clarification and he trotted out a study from the 70's about how "senior secretaries" responded to orders given by "junior salesmen" in suits but not those dressed more casually. He immediately dismissed all objections that gender politics could have played a factor, despite the fact that it was the 70's. Hell, gender politics *still* play a factor in the work environment. I'm in a technical class at this exact moment where I'm the only woman. Hellooooo. Anyway. Working within the framework of his idiotic prejudices, I was still able to refute his assertion (what with secretaries knowing where their bread is buttered and all).
But for me, the most significant part of this was how he'd just thrown out the gender issue, despite the timeframe. This is a man who's married to a strong, feminist woman. She was the one who'd brought up the argument, and he dismissed it out of hand. I can't help but feel that this is demonstrative of the fact that there's still a lot to do to get true gender equality. Convincing people that there's still a problem is going to be the first part of the battle.