Here’s What Happened When A Man Swapped Email Signatures With A Woman Colleague

March 11, 2017

Spoiler alert: “It fucking sucked.”

When a client suddenly started replying to his emails in a rude, dismissive manner, Martin R. Schneider, a writer and editor based in Philadelphia, wasn’t sure what was going on. Then he noticed he’d accidentally been sending emails with his female co-worker’s signature at the bottom, thanks to their shared inbox.

When he figured out the mix-up, he and his colleague, Nicole Hallberg, decided to conduct a little experiment. They would swap email signatures for two weeks and see what happened.

Spoiler alert: Schneider says it “fucking sucked.”

But let’s rewind a bit, to when Hallberg and Schneider’s boss complained to Schneider that Hallberg took too long working with clients. That’s really the beginning of the story. Schneider explained the whole thing on a Twitter thread earlier this week…

Hallberg told the story from her own point of view in a Medium piece, in which she explains what happened after she and Schneider ended their experiment early and went to their boss to tell him about it. “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 Hallberg, that was the lowest moment of the entire experience. Until her boss tried to deny that the email switch was proof of how toxic and sexist the professional world can be for women, “I never really felt anything like despair.”

But there’s something of a happy ending for Hallberg; in the wake of the email swapping experiment, she quit her job and started her own freelance writing business. “In an office of one,” writes Hallberg, “I can finally put my walls down.”

Image via Shutterstock. Media via Twitter.

Comment: What’s the most sexist experience you’ve had as a woman in the work world?

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