A man named Kim O'Grady says that letting employers know he was a male by using the honorific "Mr." allowed him to get a job after four months of rejections by employers who believed he was a woman.
Kim O'Grady, a management consultant in Perth, Australia, wrote about his experience in a Tumblr blog post that has gone viral, catalyzing workplace equality advocates across the world. His original blog has already been re-published online by Atlantic Media, Quartz, and AOL.
In an epilogue about his original blog post, "How I Discovered Gender Discrimination", O'Grady wrote on Sunday, "The sad reality is this shows we all know how real and invasive sexism is."
"People have expressed sadness, disappointment, anger, but no man or woman has expressed disbelief," he wrote on Sunday. "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."
In his original, viral blog post published last week, O'Grady describes how he was looking for a job in the late 1990s. With years of experience in engineering, sales and other fields, O'Grady said there were "plenty of opportunities around."
"I was an experienced guy in an experienced guy's world, this wouldn't be hard," he wrote.
After four months of rejections, O'Grady decided to search for clues among his applications.
"I was particularly pleased with the decision I made to brand it with my name with just enough bold positioning to make it instantly recognisable, and as I sat scouring every detail of that CV a horrible truth slowly dawned on me. My name," O'Grady wrote.
"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," he wrote. "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."
In the U.S., sex discrimination was the third most frequently filed charge by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission in the 2012 fiscal year with 30,356 charges, or about 30 percent of all charges.
Sex discrimination can affect men too. Nearly 18 percent of sexual harassment claims filed with the EEOC in the 2012 fiscal year were filed by males.