This man realized a client was only being rude to him because the client believed he was speaking with a woman.
Whether or not sexism even exists in the United States is something that many debate about, and it’s likely that before this experiment, Martin Schneider from Philadelphia would have floundered at the question of whether sexism and misogyny plague the American people (and the rest of the world).
It wasn’t until Schneider was working alongside then-coworker, Nicole Hallberg, in their two-person office while editing and rewriting other peoples’ resumes that he realized just how profoundly sexism affects the people around him.
As Hallberg tells it, their boss, who remains unnamed, had been sexist from day one, but she didn’t notice it until day two, when her boss described her new co-worker, Schneider:
“Oh, he’s a good writer, but he tends to get over emotional about things and let that get in the way of his writing. He’s kind of a girl like that.”
Though he backtracked and ultimately apologized, Hallberg knew from the beginning what kind of boss she was working with and worked harder just to earn a morsel of the respect she deserved in the workplace. She barely even bristled when her boss told her that he was grateful to have hired her even though he “wasn’t going to consider hiring any females” because “we’ve always had fun here, and I didn’t want the atmosphere to change.” She wasn’t even surprised when her boss complained to Schneider, who was her supervisor, that Hallberg took too long to work with clients.
Schneider brushed off this complaint and estimated that his efficient client interactions could be linked to his experience with the job. He quickly realized that he was very wrong about this on the day that he accidentally used Hallberg’s name to sign off on emails, causing a client to believe that they were communicating with a female. Look at Schneider’s recollection of what happened.
Let the record reflect that Hallberg describes this moment, when their boss did not believe the evidence placed in front of him about the sexism she experienced in the workplace, as the first time in two years that she almost lost her cool with her boss. After everything she endured with him up until that point, this was nearly her breaking point.