Well, you know what happens when you assume?
Making assumptions is something brought up quite often when it comes to e-mail. Assuming never leads to anything positive. Assuming intent, tone, seriousness, sense of humor — never works out well. If you are unsure; ask.
“Unisex” names are now all the rage (a search on Google produces 1,370,000 results). Combine that and the global environment in which we all are playing, to assume if contact is male or female can cause you to not make a very good impression.
A site visitor writes:
My name is Nikita. It’s a typical Russian male name, but when I send e-mails to other countries, people got some problems with identifying my gender when looking at my sig. As a result, in response I got the messages starting with “dear ms. Nikita” Can I put “mr” somewhere in the sig to avoid misunderstanding?
I actually have had that happen to me as well. Generally, for me, I look at that as spam. Judith is a female name after all. But say I give the benefit of the doubt to people who do not take the time to read my site to know I am a female or those from other cultures that don’t know my name is one only used by females (that I know of). I simply correct them when I reply stating, “BTW, I’m a Miss not Mr.” with a ;-).
Putting a Mr. in your sig file is just fine. However, that may make you appear more formal than you may prefer. If you are a formal guy — that’s okay then. Knowing you have such a unique and cool name, if someone misidentifies your gender, kindly set them straight.
Now that I think about it, I e-mail folks with gender neutral names all the time (Pat, Chris, Kerry, Robyn, Frances… ) and have never thought of their gender in how I communicate with them. Nikita’s situation further emphasizes that if you are unclear about anything in an e-mail, including gender, do not assume. Ask! An issue for all of us to be cognizant about!