It’s a sad world when women have to “hire” a fake male employee to do their job. I found these 3 examples of women doing just that to avoid bias and improve their biz.

Female Podcaster’s “fake male employee” TikTok goes viral

Jandra Sutton, host of The Wildest Podcast, “hired” a fake male employee, and she talks about it on TikTok:

@jandralee

#stitch with @general.caronobi Tell me you have email anxiety without telling me you have email anxiety. #smallbusinesstips_ #femaleentrepreneur #fyp

♬ original sound – Jandra Sutton

Sutton’s TikTok has over 300,000 likes, 1,900 comments, and 9,500 shares. She says she found the tip on Twitter and “loved it.” Sutton’s TikTok says:

If you’re a millennial woman who has to write emails why don’t you have a white male alter ego yet?…create a Gmail alias for your “male assistant”. My assistant’s name is Matt, named as such because he is not a doormat, (unlike myself)”

She also says that “Matt” is great at handling negotiations or difficult conversations she doesn’t want to have.

Social School CEO’s fake male employee handled the “heavy” stuff

kelly doody fake male assistant
(image source: @kellydoods Twitter)

In 2010, Kelly Doody, Founder & CEO of Social School, created a fake male employee to delegate certain tasks. Doody said:

“It is often quite difficult to be taken seriously as an entrepreneur, let alone as a female one.”

source: CBC Radio

Doody found Mike Jones, her fake male assistant, was perceived differently because he was a man. “Mike” was brief and direct in emails. Doody said this helped:

  • make her business look more established during negotiations
  • with the collection of overdue payments
  • keep her client interactions more positive

Sounds similar to Jandra Sutton’s fake male employee “Matt” to me!

Female Entrepreneurs invented a fake male co-founder

Women in business are not stopping at hiring a fake male assistant. Witchsy co-founders Kate Dwyer and Penelope Gazin invented a fake male co-founder, Keith Mann. They said acting through “Keith” was like “night and day”.

The female co-founders saw a huge difference in how they were treated by biz contacts versus Keith. Dwyer & Gazin also gave Mann a backstory:

“He was a dude’s dude, they decided, the kind who played football in college. He was devoted to his wife of five years, and he couldn’t wait to be a dad. He was just a really good guy. He doesn’t really understand Kate and I, but he’s been happy to help us with our project before we find husbands.”

source: Insider

Why some women hire a fake male employee

Studies show men are more well-received than women in business negotiations. Nancy Wilson, founder & CEO of the Canadian Women’s Chamber of Commerce explains why:

“Since gender norms place a lot of expectation on women to be accommodating and pleasant, women face backlash when their actions do not match those expectations. That backlash is particularly strong when a woman is in a leadership role…When you have a woman in charge of a business, trying to deal with suppliers, or subcontractors, or trying to deal with customers who are demanding refunds, or whatever the case may be, there’s a perception or an expectation that the woman will act in a certain way. This is often referred to as “likeability bias,” our propensity to accept assertive behaviour from men as natural and normal, but to think women are bossy or unlikeable when they display those same traits.”

source: Wealth Builder International

More examples of hiring a fake male employee?

I’m sure there are more examples of women entrepreneurs hiring a fake male employee to improve their business. If you know of any, I would love to add them to this post. Email me at Heather@ongig.com.

WHY I WROTE THIS

Ongig is passionate about eliminating bias of all types (gender, race, age, and disability). Ongig’s Text Analyzer helps remove gender bias from job descriptions. Please click our demo request button if you’d like to learn more.

Shout-Outs:

  1. Research Alert: Why Women in Biz Are Using Fake Male Assistants (by Kimberly Pike)
  2. Women entrepreneurs create fake male assistants to navigate gender biases (Written by Brandie Weikle. Produced by Jennifer Keene)
  3. 2 women entrepreneurs who invented a fake male cofounder say acting through him was ‘like night and day’ (by Libby Kane)
  4. Women entrepreneurs create fake male assistants! (by Wealth Builder International)

by in Diversity and Inclusion

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