Did you enjoy a nice Lady Day? That symbolic event was celebrated at Google at the end of last week in a concerted response to the sexist comments of an unnamed shareholder in Google's parent company, Alphabet. You see, at an Alphabet shareholders meeting, this (male) shareholder addressed Alphabet's CFO, Ruth Porat, as the "lady CFO," a slip written about here by CNN that would seem to belie the shareholder's undue emphasis on Porat's gender.
The remark was widely mocked on Twitter, and minutes later, Sonen Capital's Danielle Ginach called the dude out. "I am sorry to put another shareholder on the spot," she said according to USA Today, "But Ms. Porat is the CFO, not the lady CFO."
Later, Ginach would add to the news outlet that "When it was my turn to speak, there was no way I was not going to acknowledge it. She has been a tremendous leader for Google, but her leadership aside, that was an unbelievably sexist comment. Imagine addressing the 'man CFO.' What is the relationship between gender and CFO?"
Hence, some days later, the decision from an internal group at Google to deride the shareholder's comment with a dedicated "Lady Day." On Thursday (and also Friday) women added "Lady" to their job title in email signatures and the company directory. The following GIF made it into an internal landing page, apparently.
As Meg Mason, "Lady Partner Operations Manager, Shopping," told USA Today, "I wanted to do something fun and 'googley' that allowed us all to stand together, and to show that someone's gender is entirely irrelevant to how they do their job."
Also, and I think confusingly, men at Google like Bob Jung appeared to have added gender to their title. But instead of adding "Male," they, and he, also added Lady their titles to become "Lady Director, Software Engineering."
While this "tongue-in-cheek" protest might call attention to the disrespect and bias inherent in considering, first and foremost, a person's gender in the workplace, I feel compelled to add that it does awfully little to address the actual gender gap at Google! That was, at least as of 2015, pretty bad at about 70 percent male according to publicly reported numbers. To get "more granular," the technical side of Google was even more male-dominated, with 82 percent of those employees male. Last, and most pertinent to the discussion of Alphabet's CFO, Google's leadership was 78 percent male and just 22 percent female at the time of that diversity overview. Anyway, what I mean to say is, with numbers like that, it might be more illustrative for all the men at google to add "Male" to their title than for everyone to add "Lady," no?