An unintentional experiment on workplace gender discrimination by an Australian management consultant has lit a fire of discussion online after he said adding two letters to his resume landed him a job within a few weeks.
Those letters were "Mr."
In the blog post "How I Discovered Gender Discrimination," Kim O'Grady wrote that in the late '90s he quit his job and set out in search of new opportunities.
"There were plenty of opportunities around and I usually had a few applications on the go at any one time. I was an experienced guy in an experienced guy’s world, this wouldn’t be hard," he wrote.
He was wrong. O'Grady wrote that after about four months he still hadn't landed an interview. He looked over his curriculum citae, pondering what a qualified person like himself might be doing wrong.
Then, O'Grady wrote, he realized his name, Kim, was boldly positioned at the top of the document. Employers might have thought he was a woman.
"At first I thought I was being a little paranoid but engineering, trades, sales and management were all definitely male dominated industries," he wrote. He had also mentioned in the document that he was married with children.
O'Grady wrote that after adding "Mr." to his CV, he was offered an interview for the next two jobs he applied for, and he took the second one. The events of his post took place more than a decade ago, but O'Grady wrote in a follow-up post he was surprised — and distressed — at how much it still resonated.
"Gender discrimination is real and it damages women, and removing gender discrimination needs leadership from men," he wrote.
More recent evidence suggests he's right. A study published in the fall sent scientists the same application for a position as lab manager, sometimes with a male name and other times with a woman's. Both men and women reviewing the applications rated the female applicants lower on average in all categories, including competence and hireability, even though the qualifications were exactly the same.
Recent Statistics Canada data on pay inequity showed women earn on average 72 cents for every dollar a man earns.
We've heard these statistics a hundred times each. But years after Kim O'Grady's experience, it seems progress hasn't inched forward quite so much as we might like to imagine.