“Behind every successful man is a woman” is a famous saying, but what exactly is the case when it comes to successful women? Well, according to what’s happening in today’s world, it apparently takes a fake man for two women to be openly successful. A recent story has brought to light the undercover sexism that still exists in the business world. Apparently, even though we are more than halfway through 2017, it still matters if the person heading the company is a man or woman.
A year ago, when Penelope Gazin and Kate Dwyer started their venture Witchsy, an art marketplace, they thought all it took for a business to take off and flourish was talent, hard work and passion, but boy were they wrong. Soon they realised that in this big world of art, being a woman was tough, tougher than being a guy.
In their one year of being live Witchsy, which has now successfully sold art worth a whopping $200,000, needed help/contributions from designers and developers to get up and running. The co-founders took the responsibility in their hands and started contacting contractors/designers for the same, this is when they noticed a strange thing happening. Penelope and Kate realised that most of the people working as contractors were men, and a lot of them behaved strangely dismissive towards their project and them.
In order to find out whether the behaviour was directed towards them as women or their business, the two female co-founders decided to do a little, harmless experiment. The duo decided to invent a third cofounder for their company and named him Keith Mann. The catch was Keith was a male who only communicated with clients via email.
Unfortunately for modern day feminism, this little experiment worked.
While as female founders Penelope and Kate had to wait for days to get a response, their non-existing vocal male partner Keith not only got a reply but also got asked if he needed help with anything else.
Talking to Fast Company about their experiment, Kate said, “It was like night and day.” “It would take me days to get a response, but Keith could not only get a response and a status update, but also be asked if he wanted anything else or if there was anything else that Keith needed help with.”
Kate also specified a case where a particular developer addressed Penelope and her with the greeting, “Okay, girls,” but Keith was greeted in a more professional way, by his name. The female founders felt having a male founder somehow changed people’s perception of their business and even legitimised it for some particular cases.
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.
— A Schneidmare On Elm Street (@SchneidRemarks) March 9, 2017
This wasn’t a one off case. Earlier in the year, a popular Twitter thread doing round the internet narrated a similar story. The thread shared the experience of a male employee named Martin Schneider at a services firm who accidentally emailed a client as his coworker, Nicole. To Martin’s surprise, he observed that his work signed as “Nicole” was receiving curt replies from the same clients that he has had a wonderful experience of working with (Read Here).
The aforementioned cases show that being a woman in a man’s world is still a task, but being a woman and pretending to be man in a man’s world ain’t that hard apparently.