Home » The Blog » Assuming Gender in Email

Assuming Gender in Email

Don't assume gender in email.  Here's how.

Well, you know what happens when you assume? It rarely works out well.

Making assumptions is something brought up quite often when it comes to email. Assuming never leads to anything positive. Assuming intent, tone, seriousness, sense of humor is often the cause of misunderstandings. If you are unsure, ask.

“Unisex” names are all the rage nowadays, but there were always names that could go either way. Combine that and the global environment in which we all are playing, assuming if contact is male or female can cause you not to make a very good impression.

Here’s an example:

My name is Nikita. It’s a typical Russian male name, but when I send emails 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?
Site Visitor

I have had that happen to me as well. Generally, for me, I tend to take that inquiry as spam by an automated system. 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.” and include a 😉 to soften the correction.

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, all you have to do is kindly set them straight.

Don’t Assume; Ask

Now that I think about it, I email 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 email, including gender, do not assume. Just ask!

Get the word out...