“I read your article and yes to all that but not to reply to a friendly email – takes 10 seconds – seems churlish.”
That’s a comment I received about the 2nd short piece I posted last week, in which I described reaching out to women for collaboration and receiving replies just 1/10 of the time. This hadn’t been my experience when reaching out to men, who were much more likely to respond – and with “yes”.
In the piece, I was strictly empathetic to pressures any musician may feel to stick to projects that seem most likely to keep their career momentum going, and that –long story short– that often means turning down collaborations with women, who are less likely to have the industry “ins” that the gatekeepers (still predominantly male) do. To reiterate, because I think this is important: my theory was that all are reluctant to slow down their career momentum, but that women’s momentum, generally, faces more threats and hurdles than men’s, and that after all that struggling to get their own backs, they simply have less time/energy for side-projects than men do.
But that comment I received did set off some alarm bells for me. First bell: you know what? It’s actually highly unprofessional (and socially: just plain rude) not to at least
send that 10-second email to decline involvement. Are you a professional? Okay, so act the part in your communications.
Consider, too, the positive notion someone must’ve had of you when they reached out to invite you to join their project. The fastest way to make sure you stop being viewed in a positive light is to treat others like they aren’t worth your dignifying them with a short reply. (And if your reason for not replying was that, in actuality, you don’t feel worthy for what they’re asking of you, then consider this a wake up call: it doesn’t read that way. Also, may I inform you that your modesty is a bit of a tired cliché?)
Second bell – and ladies it’s the most important reason it’s backfiring on you when you give each other the cold shoulder:
When you don’t give me the time of day, you’re behaviour encourages me to stick to asking the people who –past experience has proven– will treat me with professional courtesy: men. You’re perpetuating the whole situation I’ve got an issue with in the first place, which is to give the job to a man instead of a woman.
If you’re still not convinced that your non-reply is unacceptable, then how about this as a final argument:
Imagine a woman you’ve never heard of, but who is apparently in your extended music scene, comes up to you face-to-face, introduces herself, and says she’s working on a project looking for someone to fill just the role you are known for. “I know you’ve got what it takes, so wanted to reach out. Would you have any interest in being involved?”
And now imagine that your response is sticking your fingers in your ears, turning around, and walking off into the sunset. Congrats, you’re socially inept and just disqualified yourself from getting asked for future collabs with this person.
So, while I still can empathize with women’s reluctance to collaborate with other women, I didn’t want it to seem like I’m putting my seal of approval on their tendency over men’s not to respond to project invitation emails. I’m not cool with it. And make no mistake, it has dampened the positive glow I saw you in when I first reached out., and it has made me consider just sticking to men, even though I so badly want to connect with other women, musically.
I’m Gwen Thomas, artist name G.T. Thomas.
FB & twitter: @gtthomasmusic