Thursday 20 July 2017

What happened when a man and woman switched names at work for a week

Zlata Rodionova

Men and women work side by side, often tackling the same business issues, sitting through the same meetings and walking the same hallways but the common ground might just end there.

Martin R. Schneider, an editor for the movie-reviewing site Front Row Central based in Philadelphia, realised men and women are treated differently in the workplace after he accidentally signed off on emails using his female co-worker's signature

He tweeted the experience that made him realise women do not get the same respect in the workplace. The tweet that has been liked nearly 7,000 times and shared more than 5,400 times at the time of writing.

Mr Schneider, at the time working at another company, said that his colleague Nicole was getting criticism  from their boss for taking longer than he did on tasks that involved communicating with clients.

As her supervisor Mr Schneider thought this was due to his higher level of experience, until one day he noticed one of his clients acting unusually difficult.

"He is just being IMPOSSIBLE. Rude, dismissive, ignoring my questions," he said, adding "Telling me his methods were the industry standards (they weren't) and I couldn't understand the terms he used (I could)."

He realised the problem was coming from his signature – Mr Schneider was accidently signing all his emails with the name “Nicole” since they shared an inbox and she was handling the project before.

Once he reintroduced himself to the client all the issues disappeared.

“IMMEDIATE IMPROVEMENT. Positive reception, thanking me for suggestions, responds promptly, saying ‘great questions!’ Became a model client,” Mr Schneider said.

“Note: My technique and advice never changed. The only difference was that I had a man's name now,” he added.

Following the incident he switched signatures with his female collegue for two weeks.

“I was in hell. Everything I asked or suggest was questioned. Client I could do in my sleep were condescending. One asked if I was single,” he commented.

Meanwhile his colleague Nicole had the most productive work of her career, according to Mr Schneider.

“I realised the reason she took longer is because she had to convince clients to respect her.By the time she could get clients to accept that she knew what she was doing, I could get halfway through another client,” he said.

“For me, this was shocking. For her, she was USED to it. She just figured it was part of her job,” he concluded.

Here’s his story in full

“So here’s a little story of the time [my colleague Nicole] taught me how impossible it is for professional women to get the respect they deserve.”

“Nicole and I worked for a small employment service firm and one complaint always came from our boss: She took too long to work with clients.”

“(This boss was an efficiency-fetishising gig economy-loving douchebag but that’s another story.)”

““As her supervisor, I considered this a minor nuisance at best. I figured the reason I got things done faster was from having more experience.”

“But I got stuck monitoring her time and nagging her on the boss’ behalf. We both hated it and she tried so hard to speed up with good work.”

“So one day I’m emailing a client back-and-forth about his resume and he is just being IMPOSSIBLE. Rude, dismissive, ignoring my questions.”

“Telling me his methods were the industry standards (they weren’t) and I couldn’t understand the terms he used (I could).”

“He was in the entertainment industry too. An industry I know pretty well.”

“Anyway I was getting sick of his s**t when I noticed something. Thanks to our shared inbox, I’d been signing all communications as “Nicole”.”

“It was Nicole he was being rude to, not me. So out of curiosity I said “Hey this is Martin, I’m taking over this project for Nicole”.”

“IMMEDIATE IMPROVEMENT. Positive reception, thanking me for suggestions, responds promptly, saying “great questions!” Became a model client.”

“Note: My technique and advice never changed. The only difference was that I had a man’s name now.”

“So I asked Nicole if this happened all the time. Her response: ‘I mean, not ALL the time ... but yeah. A lot’.”

“We did an experiment: For two weeks we switched names. I signed all client emails as Nicole. She signed as me.”

“Folks. It f***ing sucked.”

“I was in hell. Everything I asked or suggested was questioned. Clients I could do in my sleep were condescending. One asked if I was single.

“Nicole had the most productive week of her career. I realised the reason she took longer is because she had to convince clients to respect her.”

“By the time she could get clients to accept that she knew what she was doing, I could get halfway through another client.”

“I wasn’t any better at the job than she was, I just had this invisible advantage.”

“I showed the boss and he didn’t buy it. I told him that was fine, but I was never critiquing her speed with clients again.”

“He conceded that battle, but found ways to hound us both on time in other manners, but again, that’s a different story.”

“Here’s the real f***ed-up thing: For me, this was shocking. For her, she was USED to it. She just figured it was part of her job.”

“(I mean, she knew she was being treated different for being a woman, she’s not dumb. She just took it in stride.)”

Independent News Service

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