The Problem With Telling Women to Email Like Men

Excerpt from this article:

You’ve probably heard by now that you’re doing email wrong. You’re too friendly in your emails. You should write more confidently. You need to be more professional. Women, so the stereotype goes, email differently to men. We’re more personable and less persuasive. We apologize more, qualifying statements with “I think” and “I feel,” and use so-called “permission words” like “just.” And then there are the exclamation points. Several studies have found that, on average, women use more exclamation points in their digital communications than men, making the humble exclamation point somewhat emblematic of gendered differences in email styles. I can’t remember the last time I sent an email without one.

This, we are told, is bad. It makes us look soft, or amateurish. It stops people taking us seriously. One common piece of advice I’ve received: stop emailing “like a woman.” Cut the friendly tone, banish the exclamation points, and don’t you dare think about slipping in an emoji. Email like a man.

The problem with this, however, is the same as with any other kind of Lean In model of feminism. It places the onus to change on the individual, when the problem is societal. It asks those who are already disadvantaged by social structures—in this case, male-dominated corporate culture—to put in extra work only to further uphold those very same structures.

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