Female names are so confusing!

7 Aug



“In your case, for some reason I can’t reconstruct, I inferred from the email address that you were “[mylastname]” (a male), and rewrote the salutation accordingly. That was unusual. After sending the email, and deciding (upon reflection) that I had erred in making that change, I asked myself whether this was a potential problem (for gender-related reasons). I decided not, on the grounds that rejecting a paper I thought was from a male couldn’t be a terrible problem. Even when I suddenly realized that the author was in fact (probably) a female, she would see that the editor thought she was a male. It’s unfortunate to make any gender confusion, of course, but to the extent that the system is primarily devoted to gender-blindness, it’s not so bad to have THIS kind of error. “

What is it like to be a woman in philosophy?

I submitted a paper to a journal, and it was rejected. The rejection was addressed to “Mr. [Myfirstname]”. I confirmed that the submission system had asked for my preferred title, which was Ms., since at the time I was still a grad student. My last name is also a common male first name, so I surmised what had happened. The editor, seeing my last name, had changed the title to Mr. and my first name (which is very feminine!) to a last name.

I emailed the editor–an extremely well-known philosopher in a major sub-field–to alert him to the error. His response was sort of jaw-dropping, though I don’t think he meant anything malicious in making the initial change or in his response.

He confirmed that he’d made the change, and that he suspected after he sent the email that he’d made a mistake. He went a long way to explain…

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