Examined as a power play, the purportedly well-intentioned male to female / supervisor to subordinate “compliment” is not a compliment at all. The true message is not that the object of the comment is a beautiful woman, but that the object is not in control… The comments are intended to notify her that her separate status as a female has not been forgotten and that she is unlike those around her. The boss, presumably busy with other duties, has not taken the time to visit her and praise her good work, her superior skill. Instead he has made it a point to notice her physical attributes and ensure that she understand she has been placed within the confines of her body."
— Kathleen A. Kenealy, Sexual Harassment and the Reasonable Woman Standard