In less metaphorical terms, did it all come down what is - and what isn't - in my pants?
Check this out, from a writer named James Chartrand.
One day, I tossed out a pen name, because I didn't want to be associated with my current business, the one that was still struggling to grow. I picked a name that sounded to me like it might convey a good business image. Like it might command respect.
Instantly, jobs became easier to get.
There was no haggling. There were compliments, there was respect. Clients hired me quickly, and when they received their work, they liked it just as quickly. There were fewer requests for revisions — often none at all.
Customer satisfaction shot through the roof. So did my pay rate.
. . .
I was still bringing in work with the other business, the one I ran under my real name. I was still marketing it. I was still applying for jobs — sometimes for the same jobs that I applied for using my pen name.
I landed clients and got work under both names. But it was much easier to do when I used my pen name.
Understand, I hadn't advertised more effectively or used social media — I hadn't figured that part out yet. I was applying in the same places. I was using the same methods. Even the work was the same.
In fact, everything was the same.
Except for the name.
The answer was plain. Without really thinking much about it, I tried an experiment when I chose my new pseudonym: I became a man (in name only).
In all honesty, I'm not really wondering if this is what happened to me. I don't think it is.
And there's an interesting story here, expanding on and partially debunking Chartrand's story. According to Amanda Hess, the writer did more than change her name: she adopted a sexist male persona, made herself part of a boys' club, and lied about much more than her name.
Nevertheless, history abounds with verifiable stories of women using men's names to get published, identical loan applications being denied based on gender, identical resumes being accepted or rejected according to the applicant's address (predominantly African-American neighbourhoods), and the like. Remember how George Constanza's mother doesn't want to take advice from Donna Chang, once she learns that Donna's not Asian? That's just a comic take on something that goes on all the time.
Thanks to James, via Mother Jones.