Do Your Emails Need Word-Smithing?
Photo credit: Slate
A new email app has recently gotten a flurry of attention for trying to help women get rid of certain language that many experts say undermine their perceived credibility. For example, this app helps flag uses of the word "just", "sorry" and "actually" -- a bit like a spell-check flags words that you might want to double-check for spelling.
There are a variety of opinions about this new tool. Some, like this Slate article point out it's functionality merely aggregates the advice of many experts focused on helping women counter unconscious judgments and gender bias. Others are more vociferous about the issue with the app, aptly named "Just Not Sorry".
Jessica Grosse sums up her reaction in an op-ed for the Washington Post: "Sorry, but no." She argues that picking apart the way women can tend to speak creates shame and undermines the very confidence that the app is trying hard to create.
What do we make of all of this? While we totally get why this app is making the rounds on radio and morning shows, it frankly makes us raise our eyebrows. The tool certainly comes from a well-intentioned place (you can read the creator's explanation for yourself) but we can't help but feel that it's a bit of a red herring in the scheme of things.
Women face serious and real issues in the workplace, some (but certainly not all) related to their gender. On the gender front, we prefer to focus our attention on things like equal pay, eliminating discrimination, harassment, and helping to shed light on the policies, initiatives and cultural practices women say help (or hurt) in order to bring more awareness and public pressure for positive change in the workplace.
If some women feel their email communications undermine the way they are perceived, then by all means those individuals should choose to help themselves with this app or other tools. But we'd like to believe that most women have more important things to think about: like how to really move ahead in their jobs and careers in 2016.
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