Just Add “Mr.” To Your Name And Watch The Job Offers Roll In

From banning abortions after 20 weeks to refusing to take women politicians seriously to marginalizing female athletes, there has been no shortage of gender discrimination at work in the news recently. The tale of Kim O’Grady and how he encountered an unbreakable glass ceiling is the most recent addition to this list.

Last week, Mr. O’Grady, an Australian from Perth, published on Tumblr the story of how he discovered the reality of gender discrimination. After four months of searching for a job, he had received nothing but rejections, in spite of a resume that showed plenty of experience in his chosen area.

It finally dawned on him that his name, Kim, could be seen as a woman’s name, so he put “Mr.” in front of it. Bingo! The job offers started pouring in.

His post, entitled “How I Discovered Gender Discrimination,” reminded me of female authors who have used initials and male pen names to cover up their gender, feeling that both publishers and readers are more likely to welcome something written by a man.

To name just a few: P.D. James (Phyllis Dorothy James); George Eliot (Mary Ann Evans); Currer, Ellis and Acton Bell (Charlotte, Emily and Anne Bronte).

And would Joane Rowling have gone over just as well as J.K. Rowling? Her publisher didn’t think so: when the first “Harry Potter” novel was published, he asked her to use initials rather than her first name, because he believed boys would be biased against a book written by a woman. Since she only had one given name, he asked her to make up another initial; she took “K.” from her favorite grandmother, Kathleen.

Kim O’Grady can verify that such gender discrimination is alive and well.

As he tells his story, it was in the late 90s when he decided it was time to look for a new job. He had plenty of experience in various fields and could demonstrate excellence in every sales and profit target he had ever been given. There were lots of opportunities out there, and he was sure he would soon find a job.

Instead, he got rejection after rejection and never had a single interview, even when he started applying for lower-echelon positions. Since his resume was the only thing prospective employers had to go on, he sat down to examine it carefully and figure out what was wrong. Pretty soon, he realized what was holding him back.

From Tumblr:

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.

It was like being hit on the head with a big sheet of unbreakable glass ceiling.

If they did read further the next thing they saw (as politeness declared at the time) was a little personal information, and that declared I was married with kids.

I made one change that day. I put Mr in front of my name.

O’Grady got an interview for the next job he applied for, and pretty soon he had landed exactly the position he was looking for.

A few days after first posting his story, O’Grady added this:

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. I have also not seen a single example of anyone declaring that my story is only relevant to my local experience as an Australian.

That could be because in many areas the gender gap is alive and well, and maybe be even growing.

According to the Institute for Women’s Policy Research, for example, women working full-time earned just 80.9 percent of what men earned per week in 2012, slightly below the 82.2 percent they earned in 2011.

What do you think? How prevalent is gender discrimination today?

Photo Credit: thinkstock


Jim V
Jim Ven9 months ago


Jerome S
Jerome S9 months ago

thanks for sharing.

Jim Ven
Jim Ven1 years ago

thanks for the article.

Mary I.
Mary I4 years ago

so very true and 9 times out of 10 a woman is more qualified than a man and the man will get the job and she won't. Just goes to show how sexist the head honchos are.

Giancarlo Newsome

GIVE ME A BREAK! The statistical differences the author references between gender does not necessarily constitute a case of discrimination. These overly simplistic statistics and conclusions do more harm than good! In the Western / 1st world - I just am not buying that much true discrimination remains. Folks like this author hang on to a few fringe examples to prop up a claim that really no longer holds true. I am a white male and would LOVE to be a female or better a black female in my pursuit of work. I would triple my opportunities overnight!!! Well, as long as I wasn't playing up the victim card.

What if the average difference in pay is not because of discrimination but because on average, individual women make difference choices - happily? My wife is 10x smarter than me and would make a much better Chief Operations Officer than I ever have been. She would have made a phenomenal military officer as well (I was). She CHOSE not to do so. She was not discriminated against. Her stats though averaged with others females would produce the average the author communicates. I think that most (not all) in the Western World that claim the victim / discrimination card are really hiding or not facing some other reality within themselves. HERE IS A THOUGHT - I think too many folks who play the victim card are really discriminating against themselves. Here is the U.S. we have a black man as President, discrimination is virtually dead. If you live

peggy p.
peggy p4 years ago

unfortunately this is the truth

Lisa Zilli
Lisa Zilli4 years ago

Wow, this sucks.

Gene Jacobson
Gene J4 years ago

This whole article is just incredibly depressing. We think we've come so far but we haven't, not really. I mean, that much is obvious politically since women have been under attack on every front since 2010 when the tea party took office everywhere. And, I know men don't get many responses to resumes either, businesses just aren't willing to spend a stamp or the time it takes to write an email to be polite anymore - but I do wonder sometimes if they realize how much bad "press" they are getting for that rudeness? There are lots of places I refuse to go because of how they have treated, or not, friends of mine. Even so, just what good would this "advice" do a woman? Once she showed up for the interview, the cat would be out of the bag so to speak. I'm glad for Mr. Kim, but his article doesn't really help women in any way that I can see. If he thinks it will open the eyes of hiring businesses, well, he's more naive than I thought. This is in the "I was the ONLY person alive who didn't know this" category for me.

Fi T.
Past Member 4 years ago

Where's equality?

Wendy Kobylarz

And as for JK Rowling, would her books have done as well if the main character were Harriet Potter? I don't think so, and that really pisses me off. Male experiences are NOT universal -- in fact, perhaps the farthest from it. But I'm soooo glad there's no need for feminism anymore.