I guess Johnny Cash taught parent’s not to name their boy “Sue,” but you probably shouldn’t name him Kim, either. At least not if you want him to get a job. You should totally name him Kim if you want him to become aware that, yes, gender discrimination is a real thing that does exist.
Kim O’Grady shared his story of job-hunting in the male-dominated fields of engineering and management in the late ’90s. Despite his impressive resume and relevant work experience, he was not offered a single interview — until he clarified his gender on his CV.
My first name is Kim. Technically its gender neutral but my experience showed that most peopleâ€™s default setting in the absence of any other clues is to assume Kim is a womenâ€™s name. And nothing else on my CV identified me as male.Â 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.
My choice to brand the CV with a bold positioning of my name actually seemed to scream that I was a woman. I could easily imagine many of the people I had worked for discarding the document without even reading further. 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 had put this in because I knew many employers would see it as showing stability, but when I viewed it through the skewed view of middle aged men who thought I was a woman, I could see it was just further damning my cause. I doubt if many of the managers I had known would have made it to the second page.
I made one change that day. I put Mr in front of my name on my CV. It looked a little too formal for my liking but I got an interview for the very next job I applied for. And the one after that. It all happened in a fortnight and the second job was a substantial increase in responsibility over anything I had done before. In the end I beat out a very competitive short-list and enjoyed that job for the next few years, further enhancing my career.
This is unbelievably depressing, but, I guess kudos to him for pointing that out and being aware of it.