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Beware latent gender discrimination

This campaign tip (no. 66) was published on Thursday, 7th March 2019
I recall many years ago (around 40) making a technical support call to a company in Cambridge to talk to "Tom Smith" who was their technical director and answer some questions about the piece of hardware our salesman as suggesting his company buy. Well - phone answered by a lady's voice and in those days that was no surprise - switchboards, etc. "May I speak with Tom Smith please?" "I'm sorry - he's not in at the moment - can I help". Well - I started gingerly - there's a kinda assumption that the technical director was the most technical person, and as I was asked to call him it was likely he knew what he wanted to ask. But I was - most - impressed by the "girlie" - she seemed to actually know what the device was and to actually have the right questions. Anyway - questions answered to her satisfaction and a promise to pass on / explain to Tom and actually she was so bright I knew she could. But our saleman's going to want to know who I spoke to. "And who can I tell Brian I spoke to?" I asked. "My name's Julie Blackwell". "And what's your role?" "I'm the Managing Director"

That was a time that there was a massive imbalance of genders; the sales team I mentioned above was 12 strong, all men. And when one moved on and a woman was taken on ... the shock waves reverberated. "She can't do the job - she's not strong enough to lift the equipment". Actually she was. In her first months, learning into the product, newcomers needed a bit more support from me - the only pre-sales support person on the team. But with Lorraine, that lead to office talk - nudge nudge, wink wink, "Graham's out with Lorraine again". I did just as much support for Brian, for Brock and for George (no, I did more for George as he needed to be watched to make sure he didn't sell something that would come back and bite us later).

These are old stories ...yet you still see latent gender discrimination today.

Just last year, a working email address I had assigned by a client was grahamellis@whateveritwas.org ... and others there were names like johnpeterson@whateveritwas.org. The person who replaced me, being a woman, was given just susan@whateveritwas.org ... Names and domain changed in the interest of privacy. I admit I would have preferred to have been graham@, and to have then had John@ and susan@ ... either standard acceptable, but the inconsistency - in 2019 - smacks of gender separation of roles, even if the email address she was allocated is the one she wanted.
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Contact details

These pages are written by Graham Ellis of Melksham, Wiltshire. Overlapping a life in IT and IT training, with running a hotel and campaigning for improved public transport, Graham has never been quiet - though he's starting to wind down gently now. He no longer takes overnight guests and has stepped doen from the "Community Rail Officer" role which he accidentally aquired. So he now has more time to write pages such as these and to travel in the UK. He'll be delighted to speak with your group or take a look through your case or camapaign, but be alerted that his time is not limitless even now, and he still has to keep the wolf from the door.

Postal: 48, Spa Road, Melksham, Wiltshire, SN12 7NY
Phonal: 01225 708225
Emailal: graham -at- wellho.net
Or reach me on the Coffee Shop Forum (User Grahame) facilities


What a difference a campaign makes!

It probably wouldn't have happened without a strong community campaign with which I have been involved. Most days through 2019 I'll be sharing a thought, an idea, a way of working or an experience. Come back here for the links. Discussions via the Coffee Shop Forum - Graham Ellis, 31st December 2018


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