This Female-Run Start-Up Invented A Male Co-Founder So That Their Employees Would Take Them Seriously
Remember when that Google engineer was fired for gender discrimination and half of the butt-hurt sexists of the world tried saying that there was no such thing as gender inequality in the workplace? We're back to provide you with another serving; admittedly this is probably one of the best things I've seen in a long time.
As a female start-up, I know that ideas put across to men can be met with condescension and eye rolls, so when I found out about art start-up Witchsy, I literally threw my head back and cackled excitedly (think Ursula the Sea Witch from The Little Mermaid).
Artists and entrepreneurs Penelope Gazin and Kate Dwyer founded Witchsy, an online marketplace for feminist - and really fucking cool - art and designs, almost like a smaller, badass version of Etsy. The designers and developers that they hired for the project were largely men, and they noticed that most were slow-working and disrespectful towards them, despite them essentially being their bosses. For example, one developer actually responded to them in an email starting with, 'Okay, girls...' Not quite how you'd word an email to your boss now, is it?
Fed up with taking shit from their male staff, they made a new hire that would change the way their business ran forever: Keith Mann. Keith Mann came to Witchsy as a third co-founder and was totally made up by Dwyer and Gazin. Good old Keith conducted business via email and quickly made it very apparent that sexism was live and well within the start-up.
'It was like night and day,' Dwyer told Fast Company. 'It would take me days to get a response, but Keith could not only get a response and a status update, but also be asked if he wanted anything else or if there was anything else that Keith needed help with.'
Talking to Quartz, Dwyer added that before the days of Keith, 'it was very clear no one took us seriously and everybody thought we were just idiots' and that the same people, upon receiving emails from Keith, would be eager to brainstorm and get working.
Of course if you're going to invent a whole new person, you've got to give them some kind of backstory: a man's man who loved football and a family man. 'He was just a really good guy,' Gazin said of Keith. 'He doesn't really understand Kate and I, but he's been happy to help us with our project before we find husbands.'
The fact that something like this not only highlighted gender discrimination in tech and in the workplace but actually got Witchsy to where it is today is highly commendable. Something like this might be the wake up call that those who think of sexism like Donald Trump thinks of global warming need. If anything, it just goes to show that anything men can do, women can too, with or without the help of Keith.