Kim O’Grady applied for jobs for months. Without a single interview in four months, the Australian re-evaluated the resume being sent out and thought adding two little letters would make a world of difference.
O’Grady, a man, added “Mr.” before his name and says he found very different results.
In a now-viral blog post titled “How I Discovered Gender Discrimination,” O’Grady wrote that he found himself in a position where he had “relevant qualifications, experience and could also show a successful track record in my chosen career path.” Being unhappy with his job, he quit and began looking for other opportunities where he could excel in management of technical and trade supply businesses and further hone his skills in engineering and sales.
“There were plenty of opportunities around and I usually had a few applications on the go at any one time. I was an experienced guy in an experienced guy’s world, this wouldn’t be hard,” he wrote. “Then the rejection letters trickled in. I could take rejection, it goes hand in hand with business, but after the first few months I was frankly confused. I hadn’t had a single interview.”
Even lowering his standards to jobs he felt he would be a shoe-in for didn’t result in an interview. So here’s what he did next (emphasis added):
Somewhere after the four month mark my confidence was starting to take a hit. The people rejecting me were business people too, how could my reasoning that I was perfect for these jobs be so different to theirs? Putting on my most serious business head I went back and scoured my CV [curriculum vitae]. It was the only contact any of my potential employers or their recruitment companies had had with me. My CV was THE common denominator and if something was wrong it MUST be there.
I had fortunately seen a number of CVs in my time. I was happy with the choice of style and layout, and the balance of detail versus brevity. I was particularly pleased with the decision I made to brand it with my name with just enough bold positioning to make it instantly [recognizable,] and as I sat scouring every detail of that CV a horrible truth slowly dawned on me. My name.
My first name is Kim. Technically its gender neutral but my experience showed that most people’s default setting in the absence of any other clues is to assume Kim is a women’s name. And nothing else on my CV identified me as male. At first I thought I was being a little paranoid but engineering, trades, sales and management were all definitely male dominated industries. So I pictured all the managers I had over the years and, forming an amalgam of them in my mind, I read through the document as I imagined they would have. It was like being hit on the head with a big sheet of unbreakable glass ceiling.
O’Grady wrote that he put “Mr.” in front of his name on his CV — and got an interview at the next job he applied for. He ended up taking a job that he got a second interview for after making the simple title change.
The job hunt, he explains in the post, took place in the 1990s. In that decade in this country, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission reported 30 percent of all discrimination charges filed were gender-based — second to race-based discrimination complaints.
In an email to TheBlaze, O’Grady wrote that some have commented on his story saying that “the plural of anecdote isn’t data, but that the data seems to back this up.” O’Grady told us he only has anecdotes to offer and noted that from his travels to the U.S. and working with people from this country, he believes “our cultures our very similar.” Meaning, he believes a similar type of gender discrimination could be going on here.
Given that O’Grady’s field of engineering is traditionally more male dominated compared to others, he told TheBlaze he agrees that such gender discrimination might be more prevalent in science, technology, engineering and mathematics industries, but it’s also “not completely unique to them.” His example?
“J.K. Rowling’s decision to avoid using her first name so as not to be identified as a ‘female’ author is a classic case.” Rowling was also recently found to have authored a book under the pseudonym Robert Galbraith, but the famed author of the Harry Potter series said this was to “publish without hype or expectation.”
In an epilogue to his original blog article, O’Grady posted Sunday that after the viral attention his blog post has seen, he is surprised at how accepting everyone is of the story (emphasis added):
[...] Perhaps the ease with which everyone finds the story of my experience so entirely believable is the most distressing part. People have expressed sadness, disappointment, anger, but no man or woman has expressed disbelief. I have also not seen a single example of anyone declaring that my story is only relevant to my local experience as an Australian. It’s been shared widely throughout the USA, Canada and the UK, and I have even seen a few links from outside the anglosphere. Yet everywhere it is greeted with knowing assent.
The sad reality is this shows we all know how real and invasive sexism is. We all know that sexism unnecessarily impacts negatively on women’s lives and men benefit from that. It’s been decades since western countries passed laws making most forms of gender discrimination illegal. Yet we all know sexism continues to support a segregated lower class status for women and in general our societies continue to do little about that. Leadership on gender equality is virtually non-existent in the political sphere and attempts by women to raise the issue are often labelled ‘divisive’. Women who complain about everyday sexism often have their arguments eclipsed by people who point to underdeveloped countries where women have it worse. Sometimes detractors might highlight indigenous or lower socioeconomic classes of women in their own countries who suffer greater privations. It’s as if the fact that middle-class women in western societies might not get raped and beaten as much as the others makes everything ok. It doesn’t.
O’Grady wrote that his experience — and the response after sharing it — shows that to fix the problem with sexism, even in Western cultures, it will require “ men who are not afraid to sacrifice their own artificial privilege in order to achieve genuine and equal rights for all.”
In an email to TheBlaze, O’Grady, who is now a freelance management consultant, explained that since the 90s, he only had to submit his CV once to someone who didn’t already know him — and he left Mr. in front of his name.
“It was another management role in a very male-dominated industry and I don’t think I would have got the job without it,” he told TheBlaze. “By the time I left them though we had modernized the culture quite a bit and I think it would have been less of an issue. I was hired because the company was struggling, so modernizing the culture was part of the fix.”
What spurred O’Grady to write about this situation now if it happened so long ago? He told us the story was recently dredged up during a Twitter conversation that he “couldn’t land a job interview for a management position because my CV didn’t specify I was a guy,” which ended up getting a reaction. O’Grady said he decided to blog it with more details and “by the next morning it was going viral.”
Featured image via Shutterstock.com.
(H/T: Good Morning America)