'Boys'? This isn't ok....

Warning: this is not finance related AT ALL. The content is purely work-related ranting!

I just received an email from someone (a man) at another company working on a project I am ... well helping to manage (for lack of shorter way of summarizing what I am doing). In this email he addresses myself AND HIS FEMALE BOSS in this manner:
"You girls can also suggest, make and change anything you'd like."

I am trying not to be offended by the term "girls" but I am, and I am sure some of you all will tell me to get over myself, but here is why I find it inappropriate in this instance:
1. He addresses his boss in this informal manner, and since she is a good colleague of mine, I know she does not have that level of informality with him.
2. He addresses me in this manner, and I hardly know him.
3. He is younger and far less experienced than his boss or myself, and we are having to pick up the slack in his work for him because his listening skills are poor.
4. He is asking for help to edit or write an important interim report for a client, not hosting a kegger.
5. Mr W has past experience with this person and he was less than respectful to him, the project we had hired him for (on subcontract), or myself (whom he had never met). So I am already biased, but trying hard to overcome this bias. It's not working.

I don't mind being called a girl in an informal setting. Both my female and male friends say it all the time, and I never think about it. In a work situation, I tend to prefer more formality however, likely because I am highly educated female working in a male dominated field (and thus am more sensitive?).

Interesting from my perspective that I found out how much it bothers me to be called a "girl" in a professional situation. Does this bother anyone else? Or is it just a term that is acceptable to use, even in professional situations?


  1. Debt Dieter said...
    I don't see why he's needed to include gender in that request at all actually, 'I'd welcome both your comments, changes and feedback' would have done the trick!

    The lack of care of offending someone is interesting isn't it?
    Ms. M&P said...
    When people say "girls" to professional women, it does bother me across the board. I think I'm sensitive to it because I'm young for my job and often feel like I'm condescended to before people know my position, but the truth is that it's a double-standard. No one calls professional men "boys". I may excuse it if I feel like they're trying to find a female substitute for "guys", but I think you can usually sense the difference.

    I've worked with young men like this guy that you described and they in particular get under my skin. It's like they're trying to be cool or something, but it comes off as disrespectful and unprofessional. It's not a frat house, it's work!
    nancy (aka money coach) said...
    Totally with you on this one! It makes my skin crawl. And I don't even really like it informally, although I may be uptight on that. It's just that we've (us and the women before us) have worked to freaking hard to be adult in the political and economic spheres (my god, can you believe we didn't get to VOTE within the past hundred years, and we didn't get our own CREDIT within the past few decades??) that to have a sweet but absolutely diminutive term used feels like a step backward even in the best of circumstances.
    DJ said...
    I agree, but I think it depends on the situation. In my work situation, it's me (male), my female boss and three female employees but although we are in a professional situation, the "girls" (except my boss) are friends of mine...being the token gay guy kinda buffers it too lol, but I don't call them "girls" however, I will say "Hello Ladies, I would appreciate your feedback on..."etc.

    Is that okay, do you think? For background, 2 of the 3 girls at my current job worked with me at another company (for my father) for 5+ years and one of them is close enough to have been at my dad's private family only funeral.

    We are pretty caz at our office though and terribly inappropriate and not at all pc :)

    On another (similar) note, my boss often refers to us as "kids", our ages range from 27-36...it kind of bugs me, how would you feel about that?
    Mrs. Micah said...
    I'm with you as well. If he'd said "ladies" I might have felt uncomfortable that he needed to specify gender, but whatever. "Girls" and "Hon" are almost always out of line unless the "girls" are children and "hon" is someone you're related to or in an affectionate relationship.

    Tip for guys reading this: just don't bother with mentioning gender. You can easily say "y'all" or "any of you" "you" etc.
    Wooly Woman said...
    Very good point Debt Dieter & Mrs Micah that he didn't need to mention gender at all. It was to differentiate us from the male colleague he was also addressing in the email, but I think using our names would have been best!

    DJ I would hate to be called a kid, that isn't professional either. I recently chiding a colleague who kept referring to himself as old and myself and a few others as the young ones. I don't think of him that way at all - I think of him and us as equals, not one way or the other.

    Nancy, it still seems like we have to fight for rights sometimes, even though we like to all talk about how progressive we are- you are right it wasn't that long ago that we had even less.

    Ms M&P, yes, it is like he is trying to be cool, I know what you mean. I actually think he feels a little threatened that his boss and I have more education than him, but it is just a hunch. He is hiding it in a too casual attitude.
    Stephanie said...
    That is so annoying...My boss doesn't say things like that, but she does treat me like a child. I understand that I am about 40 years younger than her, but STILL....
    Strange Bird said...
    Totally unprofessional. For what it's worth, I even call my friends "ladies." Not girls.

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