I often get emails and letters which start with “Dear Sir” which would be fine if I was male, but I am not!
The theme for International Woman’s Day 2022 is #BreakTheBias, so to those people & corporations who still persist with using "Dear Sir", here is my letter to you.
I get it. My name isn't overtly feminine, and I like to wear my hair short. But still, why do you presume, in the absence of information to the contrary, that I am male?
Let me spell it out for you.
Using "Dear Sir" in an email assumes you are writing to a male recipient, which I clearly am not! Are you trying to offend? Or worse, be sexist and discriminatory?
We, women, are not absent from professional occupations. While some industries may be dominated by one gender, women can be found everywhere, from engineering to venture capital and everything in between. By using "Dear Sir," you are minimalizing the contribution of women in the workforce. You are suggesting we're irrelevant and should be ignored.
We've worked hard to get where we are today, so stop undermining our hard-won positions and efforts.
I can tell you that receiving correspondence addressed to "Dear Sirs" is a surefire way to annoy me. You've shown you haven't taken the time to learn who I am or had the courtesy to be open-minded about who might be reading your correspondence. So why should I take the time to read what you have to say?
A piece of advice: either do your research, and do it well, or don't make assumptions.
There is (almost) no excuse for not knowing whom you are writing to in today's connected world. But if you must use something generic, let me save you the trouble. You can also skip past "Dear Sir or Madam" altogether. Presuming the gender of the recipient is insulting. Period.
Why even focus on gender at all? It's irrelevant at work. Using gendered language and assuming a male identity as the default is no longer acceptable, not in the 21st century.
Drop the "Dear Sir."
It's a small sacrifice to make that will have a big impact on women and non-binary folk! As General Hurley said, "The standard you walk past is the standard you accept."