Philly tweets about workplace sexism touch nerve, go viral

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Nicole Hallberg, who had suffered from workplace sexism, traded identities with a male colleague as part of an experiment and "I had one of the easiest weeks of my professional life."

Martin R. Schneider worked at a small Philadelphia company that edits and rewrites resumes when suddenly a client communicating through email became "impossible. Rude, dismissive, ignoring my questions."

Schneider later noticed, because of a shared inbox, he had accidentally signed his emails as "Nicole," a co-worker. When he began communicating with the client correctly as himself,  there was an "immediate improvement" in their relationship. 

Schneider, of Center City, and Nicole Hallberg, who lives in Delaware County, decided to try an experiment: they switched genders and communicated with their clients as each other.

"I was in hell. Everything I asked or suggested was questioned," Schneider said.

"Nicole had the most productive weeks of her career," he said.

This happened in 2014. On Thursday, Schneider took to Twitter because he was inspired by International Women's Day the day before, he liked to tell stories through tweets, and "I was bored on my lunch break."

His tweets went viral. His first tweet had garnered 8,400 retweets by 8 p.m. Friday and the story generated a flood of responses from women sharing similarly painful experiences.

"Freelance writer here. I use a male pseudonym & fake bio for a 50% higher acceptance rate. Just call me Matt," one woman tweeted back.

"SADDEST part is that it's so rare/accidental that a guy gets a glimpse of this. Even rarer that he reports it," another woman wrote.

"I did not expect this to blow up at all," Schneider said in an interview Friday night.

Hallberg followed up with an article on Medium, the publishing website, and that took off as well.

She described feeling despair when she and Schneider reported the results of their email experiment to their boss and he didn't believe them.

Hallberg, 27, quit the company a few months later and now works as a freelance blogger and copywriter.

Schneider, 28, works as a freelance writer and podcaster and is studying for a master's degree in organizational development at Temple University.