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November 17, 2017

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A Walk in Her Shoes

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Would your colleagues treat you differently if you were a man? The thought has surely occurred to most of us at one time or another. But an incident reported in The Huffington Post reveals the realities of this fear.

A Philadelphia man got a “rude” and “dismissive” responsive from a client via email when that client assumed he was a woman, not a man.

Turns out Martin Schneider’s email signature was accidentally sent under co-worker Nicole Hallberg’s name. So as an experiment, the two switched signatures and came to a shocking-for-him, not-so-shocking for her revelation: Hallberg’s workweek was far easier than normal, while Schneider’s was abysmal. “I had one of the easiest weeks of my professional life,” Hallberg said.

Not true for the guy. “I was in hell,” Schneider said. “Everything I asked or suggested was questioned. Clients…were condescending.”

How would you handle this situation? And do you ever feel that it’s your reality? What’s the most effective way to push back?


  1. judi mitti

    I have been in management for much of my career.
    since 1990 my experience has been lower wages
    many times being told i was to out spoken when a male counter part would be praised for being assertive
    i find know that the young women i work with want to be in management positions and feel limited by the male hierarchy

  2. Tanya Bonner

    I am treated that way not just because I’m a woman, but because I’m a black woman. The concept of “Intersectionality” recognizes that women’s oppressions based on gender can be compounded based on their additional social identities. So let’s not forget to acknowledge those differences in experiences in our discussions about gender issues.

    There is no push back. You don’t win trying to change another person’s bias and long-held, ingrained beliefs. And, frankly, in businesss, who has time for that? The only thing you can do is be magical, do your job above highest expectations, and be successful at your projects. They might not like me for who I am, but they can’t argue or take issue with success.

  3. Marie Clerveaux

    Actually, I sure do know how it feels to be in that kind of situation so many times in my life because I did major in a male dominated field so I am always a trait to some men not all of them.

    I just quit my job after 16 months because of intimidation, harassment, bullying by some young men who do not understand what a network engineer do; therefore because of jealousy and envy, they behaved so unprofessionally; after 16 months, I had enough of the nonsense. Eventhough one of my team mates was a desktop support a much lower level than my network Admin position, on the first week on the job, I had to tell him about he cannot be condescending and be little me.

    I complained to management and not much was done about it. Later on three other young men joined him on the crusade against me and started bad mouth me behind my back by telling people that I don’t get alone with people.

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