From Anonymous 

Title Mr. Engineer

I’m a product engineer. One of my recent projects was to find new manufacturers for some specific products where our current manufacturers either had quality issues or didn’t have the capabilities we needed.

As part of this project, I attend a manufacturing trade show with a fellow engineer who is male, and two colleagues from Sourcing and Purchasing, one female and one male.

Prior to this trade show, I check out the list of vendors and look at the websites of a few who look like a good match for our needs. One of the vendors’ sites offers a free sample part that shows some of their molding capabilities, so I fill out the request form, which doesn’t have an entry for title (e.g. Mr/Ms). This will be important later.

So the trade show itself rolls around. Many of the vendors initiate conversation with the two men in our group. The male engineer has to direct them to me so I can discuss our specific manufacturing needs and show them the failed part samples I brought with me, although once I get talking, most of the vendors readily engage me in technical conversation. But when it’s time to wrap up the conversation, even though my female sourcing colleague has been the one asking logistical questions (e.g. production capacities/lead times) and taking notes, most of the vendors go to swap contact info with her male peer.

I make a point of talking to the manufacturer I had requested the sample part from at this trade show, and exchange contact info. The sample part arrives a few days after the show, and since my first name isn’t obviously female, the company had presumed anyone looking for engineering samples must be male, and addressed this sample to “Mr.” (My Name). What was really irritating, though, was that they also mailed me a postcard to follow up from the trade show (I know this was a trade show follow up because my address was formatted slightly different on my sample request and my trade show contact info). And even though they had met me IN PERSON, they still addressed this postcard with the title “Mr.”

Needless to say, that vendor didn’t make it into my presentation to my team leads on potential manufacturers for our company.

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