Bad manners

Jul. 5th, 2017 07:35 pm
mme_hardy: White rose (Default)
[personal profile] mme_hardy
You, as a manager, ask a transwoman on your team to review a draft survey, which asks respondents "What is your gender?", with the options being Male, Female, or Transgender. She replies to the survey:

'Transgender' is not a gender. Transgender people may be male, female, gender queer, non-binary... If you want to know if a survey respondent is transgender, you need to explicitly ask that question."

How do you respond?


The next day I got an urgent request for a call with my manager. She told me that the data scientist who had written the survey questions was very upset and had gone to her manager to complain about me. I asked my manager what had happened to upset her and was told that it was the feedback I provided on the gender question. I read back to her the body of the issue that I had opened and asked what I should have done differently. She responded that she didn't know, that my wording seemed direct but non-confrontational, but that I was forbidden to interact any further with the author of the survey. This was the first instance of what came to be referred to as my "non-empathetic communication style".



Read Coraline Ada Ehmke's whole essay about being a woman at Github. My strong suspicion is that a fact-based response like the above would have passed unnoticed from a man, but was considered too aggressive for a woman. There should have been softening language, like "I'm afraid that" and "I know you're working from the best intentions" and "Please don't mind me mentioning one issue".

I've sent a lot of emails like the one above. Good thing I wasn't working for Github at the time.
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