A writer from the US, Martin R. Schneider (@SchneidRemarks) was liaising with a male client over email and it wasn’t going well.
It was after a few rude and dismissive replies that Schneider noticed his email signature was actually set to his female colleague Nicole Hallberg (@NickyKnacks).
As soon as he informed the client it was him – Martin, not Nicole – the tone improved.
At that point the co-workers decided to swap email signatures for two weeks. What happens when a man and a woman swap emails?
For Schneider, the results were compelling. “It sucked”. For Nicole? “I had one of the easiest weeks of my professional life.”
It’s worth reading the full story to see why Schneider observed that doing the same job can be a lot harder by virtue of being a woman.
For Nicole, the results were unsurprising. What was surprising was her boss’s refusal to accept it. In a piece she has written for Medium she explained that prompted genuine despair.
“He didn’t believe us. He actually said “There are a thousand reasons why the clients could have reacted differently that way. It could be the work, the performance… you have no way of knowing.” For the first time in two years, I *almost* lost my cool. I wanted to grab him by the arms and shake him, scream in his face until he heard me, stress cry and scream at the sky until the world made sense. But I did not cry. That would be breaking The Rules that had kept me alive in this company for this long.
But I will always wonder. What did my boss have to gain by refusing to believe that sexism exists? Even when the evidence is screaming at him, even when his employee who makes him an awful lot of money is telling him, even when THE BOY on staff is telling him??”