Even Helen MacNamara, one of the most powerful women in Whitehall, was brushed aside when she raised concerns
Sorry to bother you. Would you mind terribly? No worries if not!
It isn’t only women who pepper emails with self-effacing phrases like this, of course, but let’s just say the scales tip in that direction. It’s still women who are conditioned to play nice, and not put people’s backs up; to cajole, nudge and placate instead of barking orders or picking fights. Even brisk professionalism is deemed icy coming from women, so we’ll add a softening exclamation mark just in case.
Gaby Hinsliff is a Guardian columnist
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