This female startup invented a fake male CEO to expose the sexism of business

Witchsy invented a fake male CEO, and instantly noticed things getting easier

I have something that gives me an inherent advantage in the world of technology, and sadly it's nothing to do with aptitude. It's that handy Y chromosome which gives me a whole series of invisible advantages from being higher on the pay scale to being given unfair deference in meetings. A gentleman may indeed make his own luck, but his biological roll of the dice should certainly be credited with an assist.

Advertisement - Article continues below

The key word there, of course, is "invisible". Although my beard and 6ft 4in frame may make my gender instantly apparent, there are plenty who believe that the playing field is entirely equal for men and women. To those people, here's an interesting case study to chew over, concerning Witchsy an online marketplace for art that doesn't fit in with Etsy's saccharine flavour of whimsy.

As explained to Fast Company, the company founders Penelope Gazin and Kate Dwyer discovered that the men they found themselves dealing with as they tried to get their business off the ground were pretty trying: terse and condescending, one developer even tried to stealthily delete code from the website when Gazin turned him down for a date.

This is when Gazin and Dwyer decided to hire a man: Keith Mann to be precise. Only Keith was purely fictional: an imaginary CEO hidden behind a wall of email text to placate their sexist business partners. "It was like night and day," explained Dwyer. "It would take me days to get a response, but Keith could not only get a response and a status update, but also be asked if he wanted anything else or if there was anything else that Keith needed help with."

Advertisement
Advertisement - Article continues below
Advertisement - Article continues below

"I think we could have gotten pretty bent out of shape about that," Dwyer continued. "Wow, are people really going to talk to this imaginary man with more respect than us? But we were like, you know what, this is clearly just part of this world that we're in right now. We want this and want to make this happen."

And they have. In its first year, Witchsy has turned over around $200,000 worth of art, giving content creators 80% of every transaction. The result is the Keith Mann has stepped down from the day-to-day fake running of the business to spend more time, no doubt, on the fake golf course.

The phenomenon of men being taken more seriously than women in business especially technology is not a new one. Indeed, a 2006 study discovered that women are more likely to moderate the way they write emails so as to be seen as friendly, rather than awkward. This fascinatingly depressing Twitter Moment demonstrates what happens when men and women accidentally swap email signatures.

Featured Resources

Key considerations for implementing secure telework at scale

Identifying the security risks and advanced requirements of a remote workforce

Download now

The State of Salesforce 2020

Your guide to getting the most from Salesforce

Download now

Fast, flexible and compliant e-signatures for global businesses

Be at the forefront of digital transformation with electronic signatures

Download now

Rethink your cybersecurity strategy for the new world

5 steps to secure the enterprise and be fit for a flexible future

Download now
Advertisement

Recommended

Trend Micro and Girls in Tech join forces to tackle the tech gender gap
cyber security

Trend Micro and Girls in Tech join forces to tackle the tech gender gap

2 Jul 2020
The IT Pro Podcast: Bridging the gender data gap
Data & insights

The IT Pro Podcast: Bridging the gender data gap

5 Jun 2020
Top 10 reasons to consider flexible working
Business strategy

Top 10 reasons to consider flexible working

18 Mar 2020
Is it time to get rid of women in tech?
Business strategy

Is it time to get rid of women in tech?

6 Mar 2020

Most Popular

How to find RAM speed, size and type
Laptops

How to find RAM speed, size and type

3 Aug 2020
How to use Chromecast without Wi-Fi
Mobile

How to use Chromecast without Wi-Fi

4 Aug 2020
UN report points to a 350% rise in phishing websites at start of 2020
phishing

UN report points to a 350% rise in phishing websites at start of 2020

7 Aug 2020