That Girl, as some of you know, has a gender ambiguous name. Actually, it is a name that is more likely to be thought of as masculine. I don't know how many times I have corresponded with someone by email only to meet them and their first comment is, "Oh, I was expecting . . ." and then they don't finish for fear of offending me.
I've taken to adding (Ms.) to my signature, so it is (Ms.) That Girl, Ph.D. It's a good strategy, and one prospective student (female, also with a gender-ambiguous name) actually commented on it and was happy to know that someone else had a similar issue. I think her exact words were, "Props for the signature." Apparently in some circles it's cool to be me.
So this morning I had an appointment with one of the techs in the university IT department. Name: Tracy. Certainly gender ambiguous. I left my emails with Tracy assuming a woman. But on my way to IT I began to wonder. When I asked the admin assistant where to find Tracy's office (carefully and without using a gender specific pronoun) she directed me to his office on the second floor.
Now I think it goes without saying that this was a complete turnaround of events for me. I, who am often assumed is male based on my name, originally assumed a male was a female based on his name. I wanted to bring it up to him, but that would have been weird. So I made do with an inner dialogue that had both of us laughing at the irony of it all. (Trust me, my inner dialogue is incredibly witty and charming.)
But it made me think how easy it is to take an assumption, run with it, and never consider that assumption might be false. Case in point the video below which I found on Microaggressions (a fabulous site if you can read long enough without getting completely fed up with the human race). Watch and enjoy.