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 people’s default setting in the absence of any other clues is to assume Kim is a women’s name. 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.
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.