Posing as a woman made Philadelphia writer Martin R. Schneider realise that his female co-workers get no respect at work.
Here's his story (with minor edits). You can see the original tweets here.
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**king 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**ked-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.)