coworker tells me to order more food “for the men,” my email will display a name I don’t go by, and more

It’s five answers to five questions. Here we go…

1. My coworker tells me to order more food “for the men”

In the past few months, my coworker “Jane” and I have been in charge of work events, and part of that job is to order the catering. Jane (who’s at my same level) helps by giving me the number of RSVPs, but when she does she always includes the gender ratio and when there’s more men than women she always says things like, “You better order a lot of food for the hungry men attending” and other similar comments on men needing more food.

I’ve always thought that we should order for the number of attendees, not expected appetites, and I don’t think that men are going to be so ravenous that it’s required we spend extra to make sure they get their fill. Besides, there is usually a fair amount of leftovers from the events, so I’m not sure why Jane continues to say more food should be ordered just for the men.

What can I say to Jane so she will stop making these comments? Or am I the odd one out and it’s normal to consider attendees gender and appetites when ordering meals?

You are not the odd one out. Jane is a grandmother from 1874 who has time traveled.

I mean, yes, it’s true that on average men often have higher caloric needs than women (just based on size), but typical office catering is usually sufficient for that and doesn’t require that you order the men extra portions.

One option is to just ignore her and continue ordering the way you have been. But if you want to say something to hopefully get her to stop, you could say, “I don’t think we should be ordering based on gender. We have plenty of leftovers each time as it is.” Or you could just go with, “I think the women will be hungry too.”

2. IT insists my email needs to display a name I don’t go by

I work at a good-sized university. I do not use my first name. I have never used it socially or professionally. I HATE it. When people learn of it, they ask if I’m Italian and/or Catholic. I cannot convey the anger and hatred I have for this name. My parents only ever used it when they yelled at me.

The IT Department has decided that in the email system all faculty, students, and staff should go by their first names. I have tried to no avail to explain to them that I do not use that name. They seem mystified and have argued that no one has ever not used their legal first name. That no one has ever objected to using it. EVER.

I should say that I have worked here for decades, and in previous email system upgrades, I have been able to get the display name changed to middle and last name only.

I will now have to correct multiple people in multiple emails each and every day. I will have to explain that I don’t use that name. And NO, I am not Italian. And NO, I am not Catholic. Nothing wrong with being either of those things, but I am not and cannot pretend that I am. Am I being unreasonable in asking for this change?

No, you aren’t being unreasonable; they are. You should get to use the name you actually go by.

Your IT department shouldn’t be the final word on something this fundamental, so if they haven’t been responsive to reason, go over their heads. Talk to HR or talk to whoever IT reports to, or have your boss do that if she’ll have more pull. Explain that you cannot have an email address that isn’t the name people know you by and that it will cause tremendous confusion with your contacts and impede your ability to do your work. (And you might also point out that this new policy is incredibly unfriendly to trans people who haven’t legally changed their names. In California, it would violate the law.)

3. Employee keeps pushing for a promotion we’ve already said we can’t give him

I have a direct report who is regularly (every three to six months over the past 18 months) asking to be promoted to a position he has created for himself. While there is merit in his idea, the company simply does not want to move forward with this position at this time as there is not enough work to justify it. He wasn’t interested in accepting a compromise (a position that is opening soon that could be blended with some of what he is proposing), and even then, my supervisor cannot guarantee the C-Suite would go for the idea.

A different department recently created a position for one of their staff members, and now he is questioning me on why the same cannot be done for him. I understand the frustration, but as it is not my department I cannot provide an explanation. Quite frankly, I don’t think I should have to. Sometimes it is what it is. If that area has different needs that took priority, there is not much I can do about that.

How can I advise him to stop asking, as this has all been explained multiple times and now he is just coming off as being pushy? We’ve told him that when advancement opportunities open up in our area, he would be a primary candidate, but that also did not appease him. His initiative is appreciated, but business decisions cannot be made just because someone wants something — and this has been explained to him.

You could say, “I realize you’re interested in moving into the role you proposed. For the foreseeable future, that’s not something that can happen. I realize that might mean that you look outside the company for other opportunities, which I would understand. But I hope that we can keep you and we’ll definitely consider you for future openings. Meanwhile, though, we can’t keep having the same conversation over and over.” If you’re open to him raising this again in, say, a year, you could add, “If you’d like, you’re welcome to raise this again in a year, but I want to be very transparent that nothing will change before then.”

Then, if he raises it in another three months, you can say, “I know we’ve talked about this before and I explained (everything you explained). You keep raising it as if we haven’t had those conversations or as if the answer wasn’t as concrete as it was. Is something else going on?” Or you could just say, “Nothing has changed since the last time we talked. I of course understand if you end up needing to look outside the company because of that.”

4. Long interview process — and no job open

There’s a job that I REALLY desire, so I applied. For whatever reason, I have had the hardest time getting job offers lately, where I used never have an issue with this.

The company is new-ish so the founders are very hands-on, as that is their baby. I interviewed for a period of two months, no lie. I had to speak with multiple people and do a skills assignment that took hours. I get to the millionth stage of interviewing and am told there is actually no position open at the time, but there should be in the next couple of months. Although I was floored (no one else could have told me that weeks ago?), I said I understood and would be waiting on the position and hope to move forward at that time.

I had an additional interview after that, and then got a call letting me know the job was 100% not available yet, but they really really liked me. The recruiter even asked if they could just offer me the job now instead of waiting, but they could not since nothing was open. I was told to keep in touch until it’s open and let them know if I had any other questions. What do I say in the meantime? I don’t want to send an email every two weeks saying, “Hi, just wanted to check in and see if you had any updates about the role. I am still on board and look forward to hearing from you!

So what do I say? Obviously I don’t want to wait, I’d love the job now, but it works so well for me and my family I am willing to wait on them.

There’s not that much to say in the interim! You can check in again in 4-6 weeks, and then again a few months after that … but I’d be more inclined to just leave it in their court and tell them to get in touch with you if the role does open up.

However. I’d also be fairly wary of this company. A long interview process isn’t terribly unusual these days, but a long interview where they don’t tell you until the end that there’s no actual job opening is. They sound disorganized and a bit inconsiderate. Combine that with them also being a start-up, and you have the beginnings of many work horror stories. If you do seriously consider a job with them at some point, do a lot of due diligence about their culture and how well managed they are.

5. Should I mention I was a finalist for a similar job at another company?

I’m in the midst of a multi-year career transition and job hunt. This spring, I came the closest yet to getting an offer when I was one of two finalists for a position that was basically my dream job. I was not offered the position by Company A, but was strongly encouraged to apply again when they expanded the department.

Fast forward about three months, and a very similar position, though one where I’m an even stronger candidate, has come up at another company (Company B) in the same field. The field is close-knit enough that people from Company A and Company B very likely know one another. Would be be a good or bad move to mention, in an appropriate spot on my application for the position at Company B, that I was a finalist for a similar position at Company A? There’s an optional “tell us something that’s not on your resume” spot where it seems like it wouldn’t be too strange.

Nope, don’t mention it. It’s not a qualification in any way, and it’ll come across strangely if you try to use it as one. It also sort of implies that you think Company B should put more weight on Company A’s interest in you than they do on their own screening methods.

{ 785 comments… read them below }

  1. Ye old*

    OP 1 – I think a very simple way of figuring out the numbers is to just see how much left over remains from the previous event. Caters also often compensate by ensuring there are one or two carb heavy choices.

    1. Drew*

      Agreed. You can certainly tell Jane, “We always have leftovers so I certainly don’t think we need to order even more food.”

      I have a sneaky suspicion Jane has plans for those extra leftovers, but that’s outside the scope of the letter. Just keep ordering as you have been.

    2. Ye old*

      By which I mean – say if you caterer 100 servings for a 150 person event, and you observe that there is a lot of food remaining, cut back by 25-ish for the next event.

    3. dealing with dragons*

      I also doubt she mentions it if there are more women that they should order less food :/

      1. printen*

        I frequently order food for an all women’s group and I typically order 75% of what the caterer recommends for the number of attendees and we always have some leftovers. I was given this rule of thumb by the person who did food ordering before me and she explained it as a gendered thing. I guess it could have other explanations, but I don’t think it’s an outrageous rule of thumb to have when ordering for all women when the caterer expects an evenly mixed group.

        1. Kiki*

          I know it’s a common practice and it sounds like it’s working for your group, but I hate when events for women do this. I’ve been to several events where they’ve run out of food and it definitely had to do with gender-based order reduction.

          1. merp*

            ^Yes, I’m glad this works for their group but this would not make me feel good as an attendee. People are people, caterers know what they are doing, and women get hungry too.

            1. Tisiphone*

              Ugh! Weightlifter here. I get hungrier more often than I used to and I have been to buffets that ran out of food after the first third went through.

              1. TardyTardis*

                Oh, good, it’s not just me…(doing some very minor weights, but I’m still hungry! ).

          2. blackcat*

            Ugh, yes, I once went to an event like this that was for new mothers. They had done the gendered food ordering thing.
            For new mothers, the vast majority of whom are breastfeeding, and therefore need 800-1200 extra calories a day.
            We were all very cranky.

            1. time for lunch*

              Yeah, this drives me nuts. I’m a female endurance athlete. I’m slim because I exercise a lot and I need calories! I’ve greatly reduced my mileage in the past few years but when I was front-of-the-pack marathoner skinny was when I was most hungry, and at university cafeteria lines and such people would serve me less food! I was already hangry (though I ate two breakfasts and two lunches and still do) and becoming quite paranoid about it. It sometimes took all my patience when given half servings of beans or rice or potatoes to say, “Thanks! Can I have another spoonful? And another?” just to match up to the serving I had seen them give someone else. I don’t think I ever did recite my training regime and mention that I needed 2000 calories *in carbohydrates* but it was often on the top of my tongue. Don’t get me started on the servers who tried during that time to stop me from ordering a plate full of carbs. “I really think you’d like this [chicken breast and green salad] more!” was actually a thing that happened a lot in those days.
              Now my training is more like an hour a day of endurance, and I’m not obviously skinny but people will police women eating. Last week at a party *that took place at the dinner hour* another woman gave me a stinkeye for filling my tiny plate a second time from the more than ample buffet. I doubt she would have done that if I were a man, and I shudder to think how bad it would have been if I were larger. Yes, I eat food. It helps me move my body and think. Ffs.

              1. Grumpy*

                Second all of this, from another endurance-type athlete (currently planning my next meal). I got asked at a family reunion if I was pregnant, is that why I took so much food.
                Some women are just weird about making an effort to single out and please men. It’s hard on the nerves at times, tbh.

                1. Kat in VA*

                  I am absolutely not an endurance athlete but I eat like a dumpster on fire and it irritates me when someone orders me something small (on the rare occasions I don’t order the catering myself) on the assumption that I eat daintily because Laydee.

              2. Amethystmoon*

                This is exactly why I hate eating in public, almost never eat out unless I am part of a group, and generally eat my lunch at my desk. I feel like I can never want to eat what I want to eat at a potluck. Even if one is exercising/counting calories/points/carbs etc., there are always those who would rather be rude than realize that hey, we are making it work within our plan.

            2. Dust Bunny*

              Don’t laugh: One time I went to a model horse show and they had a build-your-own-sandwich thing for lunch. The showholder said that the caterer had suggested she order less since the group was almost entirely women. Surely exhibiting plastic horses all day is light work, right?

              People, there is a ridiculous amount of walking for something that is completely indoors and involves exactly zero live, moving, animals. Fortunately, she had sense enough not to listen because, even if there were leftovers after lunch, they were gone by midafternoon. As were the extra snacks drinks that we all had donated.

              1. Rebecca in Dallas*

                And here I was picturing people walking around live horses, the horses competing for a modeling position. Is that not how they choose horses for movies and ads?

                1. Rainy*

                  They usually just call someone who manages and/or owns horses for movies and tv and say “I need six horses and one is supposed to be a bay per the script”.

                2. Reality.Bites*

                  Sadly in the horse modelling game it’s still all about contacts and schmoozing the right equines.

              2. Tierrainney*

                I also do model horse showing. I borrowed a fitbit for one and amazed my family with how many steps I did that day.

              3. Extemporaneous complainious*

                TWO other AAM readers in our extremely niche hobby?! Hello best friends!

            3. Chinookwind*

              And that’s what I mean by needing to consider factors other than gender. If there are endurance athletes, pregnant or nursing women, or any other of a number differences in the group, they need to be taken into account.

              For an event for nursing mothers, I probably would have ordered 125% of the average food required and have the extra spread out during coffee breaks to ensure that we had a happy audience. That was just poor planning (and not knowing the audience) on their part.

        2. Betty*

          It’s really good to know what’s worked historically for a particular group, though. I’ve been a recipient of catering for a wide variety of groups/meetings and the food expectation clearly differed from “a sandwich to tide you over” to “as much pizza as you can eat”. Gender irrelevant! You’d expect to eat differently for a packed lunch at your desk vs a catered wedding lunch so I think it’s important to know people’s expectation and cater accordingly.

          1. TardyTardis*

            At a science fiction convention, you will find ladies who work out in full armor. Yeah, you go tell Brienne of Tarth that there isn’t enough food.

        3. gimme pizza*

          I would argue that attendees might scale their intake to what appears to be available. I for one wouldn’t want to eat 2 sandwiches if there’s clearly not double the # of attendees, no matter how small the sandwiches are or hungry I am.

          1. Kiki*

            I think that’s a conscientious strategy that attendees should try to abide by, but for big groups and/or events with non-discrete food items, it’s trickier to assess how much one should take.

            It also depends on how long the event is/ are they able to leave and get other food. One of the events I went to that ran out of food was a weekend-long women’s hackathon. Not getting as much food as you would have hoped for a two-hour event is one thing. Not getting enough food for two and a half days is another– people were miserable. It was pretty clear that the estimates were off because people expected women would eat like birds, but we were working hard all weekend– we needed nourishment!

            1. gimme pizza*

              Oh yeah, just to be clear I was saying that in favor of NOT ordering extra “because men will be men” and arguing that the reason printen might be getting leftovers now while ordering less is because the women are trying to be polite and not overeat.

              I previously worked a job where we frequently hosted luncheons for boards as well as larger scaled events that were predominantly male. We did not order differently based on that. Sometimes we offered light appetizers, sometimes sandwiches, sometimes heavy pastas, etc etc all at similar times of day. And regardless of how filling the food might be, there were always leftovers, so I think people just don’t like to take the last of something (at one-off events, obviously your hackathon is different)

              1. gimme pizza*

                (did not order differently in terms of quantity, I should say, but obviously varied the selection based on what the event was, time of year, so forth.)

              2. Employed bootcamp grad*

                Sorry, I misread the comment. Yes! Everyone might actually want way more than they’re taking just to ensure everyone gets enough. .

            2. Gatomon*

              This is a good point, the energy output of the group eating is going to influence how much is eaten, regardless of gender.

              I also recall a conference I helped with were we got a discount for guaranteeing x meals for presenters, so the boss always did it even though that was way too much and we’d have a ton of food waste. We tracked the number of people who ate so we knew exactly how many meals we needed historically.

            3. Paulina*

              A “Women in IT” multiday event I attended recently had enough food at the buffet lunches (though that could have been in part due to politeness and/or resupply), but had only small, artistically plated, individually served dishes at the evening-long banquet dinner. I’ve been to enough dinners of that kind to get a feel for the usual amount of food, and this one was significantly less (at least 1/3 less, up to 1/2 less). I ran into a few other attendees at the late-night pizza place afterwards and wasn’t surprised, as I was still hungry (enough to have had trouble paying attention to the last hour of the event) and so were they. Someone had clearly chosen the “small” version of the standard 3-course banquet dinner, and until that night I hadn’t known there was one. Reducing the buffet order could be based on a sense of averages, but that dinner expected that all women eat significantly less! And less than the ordinary dinner tends to be, which isn’t particularly large.

              1. TardyTardis*

                That might also have happened if the event was a fundraiser for the hosting organization (Winter Board, Blank Jaycees, looking at you…not gendered, just cheap. We had fun speculating how much the head of that organization would dress out to after the puny supper).

          2. ceiswyn*

            Indeed, and I would argue that women, being socialised to be more conscious of such things, are more likely to scale their intake than men are. I’ve observed at free food events in the past that the people taking just a few items are generally women, whereas the people loading up their plates without a thought for the rest of the queue are generally men.

            1. Your Weird Uncle*

              For example, my brother-in-law who got the mashed potato bowl first at Thanksgiving and proceeded to spoon – no lie – the entire contents of the bowl onto his plate, leaving none for anyone else. We stared at him in shock and horror.

              He didn’t even apologize, either.

              1. Pebbles*

                Take the spoon and thwack him over the head with it. Then get a new spoon to shovel most of the contents back into the bowl (assuming he hasn’t started digging into it). Leave him an appropriate amount. Next year, he sits at the opposite end of the table from the mashed potatoes.

              2. CoveredInBees*

                I’m not ashamed to say I love mashed potatoes enough that I’d walk over and scoop some off his plate while maintaining aggressive eye contact. I have two stepbrothers who eat like your brother in law and it only took me doing this twice.

                1. Tisiphone*

                  My family knows how much I love mashed potatoes that they make a ton of extras. I’m not as piggy as Your Weird Uncle’s brother in law.

                  I’m a firm believer in moderation on the first trip through the buffet and then going up for seconds and thirds if I’m still hungry. Seconds only after everyone has had their firsts. And then when it looks like nobody’s going for more, then it’s time to see about taking home leftovers.

                  Most of the time, family is eager to see the food go out the door. Workplaces usually don’t have leftovers I want except the one time they ordered Chinese. Awesome food, but they only ordered enough to feed about half of night shift. The shipping guy who’s on the day shift should have gone home a hour before stayed late enough to be first in line and snap up half of one catering container. The only leftovers was the white rice they ordered too much of. Nobody objected to me taking it home. Nothing went to waste. That was several meals of fried rice for me.

          3. Joie De Vivre*

            Precisely. I’ve started “pre-eating” before group lunches like this because if I eat like I normally do, someone at the end of the line might not get any food. (I run, and I can go through a lot of food.)

        4. Observer*

          This is something you need to be careful of – it’s probably very dependent on the caterer. So, if there is a change in management or you switch to a new caterer, go back to ordering 100% till you have a better base line. I’ve seen many caterers where you’d better order 125-150% of the what the caterer recommends to have barely enough.

        5. Anonymeece*

          I feel like that might be because there is less food available? I always am conscientious at potlucks and catered events because I want to make sure that everyone gets some. You might find the ratio of leftovers to women attendees stays the same if you order more food, because they’re less afraid of taking the “last slice”, so to speak.

        6. Chinookwind*

          Having ordered for groups of men only, women only and various ratios of them together, I have to say that , in general, women do seem to eat less. It isn’t blind sexism but more about needed calorie intake and societal pressures. But there are also other factors you need to consider like job activity level (I would order heartier choices when the group included groups who did physical labour), newness to the labour force (if there are more interns and new to the workplace, I would make sure there was more as they may use it as their large meal for the day), and general age group (when one group of ladies skewed over 60 years of age, I learned that I could probably cut the order by 1/3 due to smaller appetites.). Then again, if the food is something that is quiet popular or a delicacy, this can then skew another way (I have yet to see leftover nanaimo bars at any buffet anywhere – there is no such thing as too many).

          What I usually do, though, is tell the caterer the mix of people coming along with my numbers and have them recommend amounts. A good, and honest, caterer doesn’t want waste or anyone walking away hungry and has the experience to know what would work best for the types of food they provide. There should always be leftovers unless the meal is coming pre-plated or in individual boxes (because few people like taking the last of anything), but the key is to have enough for maybe one or two servings.

          1. Chinookwind*

            One other factor I learned about at this job is general body size. Our 5’4 guys who do the same work physical as the 6’4 guys are just not going to eat the same amount of food. the makeup of our shop had changed from all the guys being built like big bears who could eat 2 burgers and 2 hotdogs for lunch to half bears and half lean grasshopper who could do the same heavy lifting but had smaller stomachs and calorie needs (because overall less muscle due to smaller frames). I was able to cut the average meal to 1 burger and 1 or 2 hotdogs each because some of the guys only had one of those and the bigger guys could still eat 2 or 3 big things without anyone feeling hungry.

            1. Dana B.S.*

              Late to the game, but wanted to agree. My husband is 6’3″ and while he isn’t a linebacker size or anything – he eats noticeably more than me (only 5’3″). So I think it’s more dependent on what men you have there. However, I would also trust caterers to do their job.

          2. Hush42*

            This is exactly right. I am in charge of purchasing Month end lunch for the office each month. Since I’ve started doing this (in April of this year) I’ve noticed that, in the two months where our warehouse staff was mostly off for month end, we went through far less food than I would have predicted just based on the number of people missing. I believe that some of this has to do with our warehouse being staffed predominately by men but I suspect more of it is that their jobs demand far more calories each day than the rest of us whose jobs mostly just require sitting at a desk and typing. Men OR Women whose jobs require heavy lifting are going to be consuming far more calories than their counterparts whose jobs have them sitting all day.

        7. TinLizi*

          I used to work at a sleep away camp. One night was boys camp out and one night was girls camp out. The morning after the camp out, whichever group was camping wouldn’t be in the camp dining hall. When it was just boys, the cooks said they ate about 60% of the amount of food they served when it was coed. When it was just girls, they also ate about 60%. Meaning when it was coed, the girls were eating less, because they were self conscious in front of the boys.

      2. Triplestep*

        Yes, but … Women (at least in the US) are socialized to not appear to be overeating in public. LW#1, if you want to use the gender breakdown as a guide to waste less food and spend less money, this might help to keep in mind. But obviously it’s not a necessity. You can just reduce your order by the percentage that gets wasted.

        1. Jadelyn*

          Yes, but…I don’t think any of us would argue that women knowing they face censure for eating “too much” (aka a full meal) in public is a good thing, and continuing to order based on a sexist social attitude only perpetuates the problem.

          Besides, not to get all #notallwomen, but…#notallwomen give a crap about appearing to overeat in public. Some have made a very deliberate choice to stop worrying about what other people think of their eating habits in public. Under-ordering based on an expectation that all women will undereat in public makes it harder for women who’ve chosen to buck that trend to keep doing so.

          1. GreenDoor*

            Jadelyn is right. I am a woman that loves to eat. That, coupled with the fact that it’s FREE, if you deprive me of my fair share of free food just because I’m female, you will feel my wrath. Multiply me by all the woman in my office and you’d have all out war. LW should just reduce the order based on the average amount of leftovers or increase the order based on how many people (of any gender) complain of portions being too skimpy, as others have suggested, but don’t order based on gender! Ignore your coworker.

      3. JSPA*

        There have been times and places when women were expected to be shy about eating, or they expected to get side-eye for eating, more than a small salad and maybe some melba toast. That attitude may persist in some places. There was also a time where women but not men were expected to potentially be on some fad diet. By now, that seems to be reaching gender parity (for whatever reasons). Caterers will generally suggest ordering generously (they make money from sales), so you can often drop the order by 15% and still have enough (whether serving men or women) provided you’re in a regular office setting. (If it’s a day of team-building activities in the woods, order up by 25%, regardless of gender, though.)

    4. That Girl From Quinn's House*

      I think you might work with my old coworker, LW1. We ordered catering, and every time it was “Get heartier portions for the boys!” and “Get healthier portions for the girls!”

      But of course, if we ordered large portions of hearty food, she’d complain about paying for it. “Oh that was too expensive, and that food was too heavy for us girls, can you get something lighter in smaller portions next time?” Then I’d listen to her, and she’d complain, “That was all bird food and there wasn’t enough hearty food for the boys, can you order more next time?” Basically, she wanted a bonanza of large portions of both heavy and light food (protein and veggies), but she only wanted to pay for small portions of green salads. The caterers and I were ready to murder her.

      She also liked to point out who ate what (You didn’t eat the empanadas, everyone else likes Mexican food! How do you eat so much of that heavy, greasy food!) to the point where I hated getting free food.

      1. Thatoneoverthere*

        That would drive me batty! I had a co-worker that commented on everything I ate all the time. Turns out it was mostly her issue. The only thing she would eat all day was handful of veggies. I tried to ignore it, but it was so obnoxious.

      2. The Cosmic Avenger*

        I was raised in a family where food choices were scrutinized to an unhealthy degree. Luckily, it didn’t really affect my diet, but it did leave me sensitive to having others pay attention to my food choices. If someone said that to me, I’d probably just stare blankly at them while secretly wanting to stuff their mouth full of food so they would shut up, or if necessary reflect it back on them with something like “Why do you ask?” or at worst, “Excuse me?” Luckily, my current coworkers all have enough emotional intelligence to just enjoy their food and not pay attention to anyone else’s.

      3. AKchic*

        This sounds like some of my relatives.

        No amount of setting boundaries, pointing out what they are doing is unhelpful/wrong/rude, or being nice and asking them to stop will do anything. A pointed “shut the f up” will at least get them to sniff frostily and ignore you for a while (which is blissful silence while you eat in peace).
        And they only critique the “girls”. The “boys” are encouraged to eat with gusto because (in my best Petunia Dursley voice) “they are growing boys”.

      1. KimberlyR*

        But you’re not ordering more because construction workers are typically men and therefore eat more food. You’re ordering more because construction work is very physical and causes one to be extra hungry, whether male or female. I would order more food for a group of construction workers than office workers, regardless of gender.

    5. Ali G*

      Caterers also typically tack on 10-20% extra automatically. So if you have 20 people, you are going to get 2-4 extra meals regardless. There is almost never a reason to order more than the # of people you have.

      1. Not a Real Giraffe*

        I was coming to say this. Caterers take notice of how much a group of a certain size will eat and over time, they adjust their portion size per person accordingly. So when you order for 100 people, they have all their years of data to know that 100 people eat 110 people’s-worth.

        I have been placing catering orders for 15 years and have always had leftovers when ordering for the actual number of guests, of any and all genders. It’s actually my practice to order for about 10-15% fewer attendees if I don’t want the food waste.

      2. Alli525*

        Exactly this. I used to order food for client meetings, and even when I ordered an exact number of sandwiches in exact quantities (e.g. 5 turkey club, 2 tuna, 3 veggie) they would always throw in one or two extra sandwiches just in case. Definitely wasn’t charged for it.

    6. kittymommy*

      I think every lunch I’ve gone to has always had a vast amount of leftovers due to this. I mean the plate of baked ziti looks great, but when you add in the salad, rolls, dessert I think “maybe I got too much… (as my mama said your eyes are bigger than your stomach”.

      Most of all though, people need to stay off of each others plates. Especially at work. Issues with food are a thing that happens to men as well!! Co-workers need to stop trying to dictate what and how much other eat! How does this still need to be said???

    7. RC*

      All of the above. In addition, the industry/culture your company exists in will also dictate what catering to order. I work on ordering catering for large events on occasion (think conferences of 500-1500 folks), and the amount of men opting for the “birdfood” options is on the increase. So many people are on keto or paleo type diets these days, so I’ve just gone the healthful(ish) route and complaints have gone down.

      1. RC*

        I ought to have added context: folks in my industry are office workers for the most part, but distributed nationwide.

      2. Chinookwind*

        Yes! I was shocked the first time I ordered catering for a 2 day meeting with our field staff. We had a good mix of hearty and lighter food as we had a mix of office staff and “ditch diggers” (that is what the employees called themselves) and was pleasantly surprised by how many of them enjoyed the lighter fare. On a whim I included whole fruit on the last day as I knew a few people had a long drive home after. They were the first things gone during that coffee break and everyone asked why we didn’t have them earlier. Lesson learned and now I always opt for a tray of fresh fruit and vegetables for anything I cater regardless of cultural expectations.

    8. Ro*

      #1- I’m going to disagree slightly with Alison on this one. While I do think the way this co-worker worded the request is kind of yuck, the reality is, ordering more food for men is a standard industry practice in event planning. Knowing the ratio of men to women at an event is a relevant detail. The reasoning is that men (on average*) are larger and (on average) have a higher daily caloric intake. It’s also relevant to know the age ranges since that can impact both the type of food you order and the amount. This is even relevant if all you’re ordering is coffee- how much and the ratio of decaf to regular. These are some of the guidelines you have to have memorized to pass the CMP (Certified Meeting Professional) certification.

      So yeah, maybe this co-worker worded things wrong. Maybe she isn’t even aware of these industry best practices. But the end result is that gender ratio, along with other factors, should be taken into consideration when ordering catering.

      *The “on average” is key here. When you don’t really know the group you’re ordering for, it’s very helpful to fall back on this. Of course, if you’re ordering for a group you know well- say if I was ordering for my work group and we eat lunch together all the time- I probably know about how many people prefer a light meal to a hearty one (regardless of gender) and I can order the right kinds and amounts of food pretty confidently. But when you don’t know this, having these formulas is handy.

      1. Jennifer*

        I was going to say the same thing. The way she worded it is a bit out of 1874, but I don’t think the meaning behind it is wrong. Of course there are women with heartier appetites as well but on average, men do eat more, and there are a lot of places that order more food depending on the gender break down. It could be helpful if, as you said, you don’t know much about the group you’re ordering for.

        In this instance, gender seems to be irrelevant because there are always leftovers.

        I just think mentioning differences between genders makes people uncomfortable nowadays, with good reason sometimes, but sometimes bringing this up can be valid.

      2. Mousse*

        And why do the men have to get those extra calories at a catered lunch? They can eat any time of the day.

        1. atalanta0jess*

          This seems like a weird argument to me. You want the catered lunch to be satisfying to people, don’t you? Otherwise why not order half as much as folks would typically consume, and let them eat their other calories at other times of the day!?

          I hazard a guess that most people would find that off putting…they want to eat until they feel done.

          1. JSPA*

            You want everyone to leave feeling reasonably fed by the meal provided. If people are leaving feeling like their next stop is the candy machine or the corner store, that’s a big fail, even if you fed them something.

            People with high metabolisms and people who are used to eating lunch are not somehow magically going to have known to eat more at breakfast. So basically, you’re saying they should be fine feeling hungry and underfed from however-long-before-lunch they get hungry until dinner. That’s a frankly bizarre goal, when your job is to provide food.

            1. Buttercup*

              I’m sorry your employer does not provide morning and afternoon breaks. It’s also unfortunate that you can only have your main meal during catered lunches, but I don’t think everyone else’s employers operate that way.

              1. BenAdminGeek*

                What? I am genuinely confused by this comment. If you’re catering an event, you need to feed people. That’s the tradeoff- you’re stuck in a room for an event, but they feed you. You can’t just say “have a morning and afternoon break and go get food.”

        2. Jennifer*

          That I agree with. Ultimately, your job isn’t responsible for making sure any of us are fed to our satisfaction everyday. Catered meals are just a perk.

          1. Chinookwind*

            Depends on the length of whatever is being catered. If I have people locked in a room all day for a meeting, it is in my best interested to keep them satisfactorily fed to ensure that they are focused on what is going on and not how hungry they are.

            1. Jennifer*

              Of course, I was referencing something more like a lunch meeting or a party or something that would only last an hour or two. Not a full-day meeting. I definitely wouldn’t be at my best either if I hadn’t gotten enough to eat.

            2. texan in exile*

              Yeah, I get a little bitter and cranky if I am not only stuck but I also have to be hungry.

              Fun fact: I learned to take my own food when my husband and I would go to his parents’ house. They did not eat lunch and saw no need to provide for any visitors who did.

          2. atalanta0jess*

            Right, but you can’t say “we will provide lunch” and then give a piece of lettuce and a glass of milk. If you’re feeding people, you have to feed them adequately, and communicate clearly about what will be there. It doesn’t work to say you’re giving a meal and then not provide enough food to serve as an actual meal.

              1. Curmudgeon in California*

                Where I work they often do barely more than that – a boxed salad full of stuff I either hate (certain lettuce or raw spinach) or can’t eat (cilantro, celery, soybean oil dressing) and a bottle of water. If we’re real lucky they’ll have cookies (made with soybean oil, which I also can’t eat.)

                One time, for an all hands meeting, they asked us what kind of sandwich we wanted – meat or vegan. I RSVP’d with meat. When the day rolled around, at the start of lunch I had to use the restroom (along with 30 others). Since I walk slowly, there was a line by the time I got there. Usual for me. But by the time I got through the line and back to get my sandwich, the *only* sandwiches left were vegan. All the meat ones were gone.

                Now, some vegan sandwiches are great, with slabs of avocado and portabello mushrooms. These … weren’t. Campus catering strikes again: white bread, wilted bitter wrinkly lettuce, a slice of tomato, alfalfa sprouts and a slab of some sort of tofu with some sort of (soy) oil dressing, and a soybean oil cookie. Drinks were lemon water (not lemonade, lemon water), or coffee. If I had eaten it I would have been back in the bathroom within the hour.

                I was glad I at least had a fruit and nut bar in my messenger bag. But I was angry – either they didn’t order enough of the thing I had specifically reserved, or the “vegans” took the meat sandwiches. I figured it was the former, because the people doing the organizing wanted more people to eat vegan or something.

                Now I always have a backup to whatever the catered “meal” is, because the usually serve stuff I can’t, or won’t, eat. Even the “healthy” salads have stuff like cilantro or soybean oil dressing that trigger migraines or gastrointestinal distress.

                What I find infuriating is that some places, if the meeting is mostly women, will decide that salads are the menu because women are always dieting and only eating “healthy” salads. So I’ll get inedible rabbit food drenched in soybean oil because I appear female. (Seriously, people, put the dressing on the side. Then at least I can pick out the edible stuff and leave the rest.)

              2. So so anon*

                I have been at conferences where the only options for vegetarians were a roll, a slice of tomato, a piece of lettuce, and a piece of cheese.

                1. Wendy Darling*

                  A previous employer had a mandatory 3-day out-of-town training with mandatory catered lunches and dinners and no free time to get your own food. The catered meals did not provide ANY food that was vegetarian (much less vegan), kosher, halal, gluten-free, etc despite having a huge number of employees with various dietary restrictions. The catering company ran and prepped some plain salads with dressing on the side when people started to freak out because they had no opportunity to get their own food and there was nothing they could eat.

                  The problem was less to do with catering and more to do with the fact that the company was run by complete assholes who never considered anyone’s needs. (Also the food was shockingly bad and I ended up surviving on fruit and cookies.)

        3. pentamom*

          Because normally they don’t get the proportionately larger amount of calories all at one time, they get them distributed through the day — i.e., on average they eat more for lunch. The idea is to provide what people can reasonably be expected to eat at a given meal. Providing less than what a person would normally be expected to eat in order to avoid gendering the order process seems like an exercise in virtue-signaling over practicality.

      3. Foon*

        If your caterer is competent, their standard portion size should be enough to satisfy anyone, without needing to make any special gender-related accommodations. I would say that knowing the ratio of men to women is relevant if the event you’re ordering for is an all-day or multi-day affair in which the attendees are solely reliant on you for their meals. Other than that, I would order based solely on the purpose of the meal and your knowledge of the caterer’s portion sizes.

        The CMP is helpful but not gospel- the gender ratio bit sounds extremely simplistic and outdated.

      4. EventPlannerGal*

        Yeah, I agree. While I think the colleague’s approach here is simplistic, it’s very standard to ask about the type of group you’re planning for, and overall gender balance is a part of that picture. There are so many factors in the mix, but in my experience if I was to cater for a group of 100 men and a group of 100 women, the group of men would eat more and differently than the women.

    9. Winston*

      I also wonder why OP’s colleague assumes that the default portion is woman-sized. Regardless of who does or doesn’t eat more, wouldn’t the caterer know how to get the appropriate amount of food for the group based on what a group (of men and women) of that size typically eats?

      1. Buttercup*

        Apparently men are constitutionally unable to regulate their food intake at all, ever, so we are supposed to cater only to their needs. It is, after all, their only meal of the day.

        1. blaise zamboni*

          You’re being ridiculous. OP’s coworker is being obnoxious and clearly doesn’t need to give OP this kind of advice because there’s not an issue with the catering. But “men shouldn’t expect to eat, how entitled to think they’ll have a satisfying meal at an employer-provided lunch” is EVEN MORE obnoxious. The coworker is the problem, the men aren’t even asking for anything extra! Sand that chip off your shoulder dude.

        2. JSPA*

          Are you trolling, or do you honestly believe that most people can just choose not to be hungry at one time, if they expect a normal, promised meal at a normal mealtime, and that expectation is not met?

          If you (individually and unusually) have a “hunger off” switch, I can see how that might be useful! And I understand that there are cultures where people intentionally learn to fast, and some must learn techniques to distract themselves from their hunger. So I’m not about to say that no such person exists.

          But I’ve known people who’ve grown up in dire want, with periodic starvation, and people who’ve never wanted for anything, and I’ve heard all of them grouse or look distressed if an expected, promised meal failed to materialize, or was of such quantity or quality that people only ate a fraction of their normal intake for the meal in question.

          The idea that we can or commonly should eat our meals some other time than at our designated meal break, and that we must all have access to food other than provided food, is frankly strange, and makes me wonder if you’re considering the huge range of professional jobs and professional worksites that exist in the world.

    10. just trying to help*

      For some reason I keep replaying those Swanson Hungry Man TV dinner ads in my brain. Maybe OP should stock up on a few of these, keep them in the office frig, and point any hungry men there when the catering runs out.

  2. Mid*

    To LW2- I somewhat relate, as I have a name that constantly makes people say “oh! So you’re from [country]!” And it gets aggravating. I think a) reminding them that this has been done in the past, and there is plenty of precedent for people who don’t go by their legal name, for numerous reasons and b) using language from your university about inclusion/diversity (assuming you have it, which is a fairly strong chance) to further emphasize that your point is within university standards.

    1. Drew*

      Bluntly, LW2’s IT department is being stubborn and stupid. “No one has ever asked for this before” is not a justification for not doing it now – it’s not even an excuse. It’s literally just “We haven’t ever had to do it so we don’t see why we should have to do it now.” The response to that is, “Because I just asked you to.” It’s an email address; it’s not going to break the system.

      1. PollyQ*

        It’s not even true — OP herself has asked for, and received, this change in the past. And it beggars belief that NO ONE ELSE EVER has asked for it either.

        1. Elizabeth West*

          Yeah, I’m not buying that.

          I don’t use my first name either. In fact, as soon as it’s possible, I’m probably going to drop it.

          1. On Fire*

            Yep. My mother has never used her first name, nor does she like it. Call her that, and she won’t even realize you’re talking to her (like when the doctor’s office paged her for 10 minutes and it didn’t register with her). It will make LW’s correspondence unnecessarily complicated if every email comes through from a different name than that in her signature.

            1. Lynn*

              Agreed. I don’t use my first name either (just my first initial). Between that and having a space in my last name, systems often find me quite annoying. But no employer has ever been unable/unwilling to put me in the system as F. Lynn or just Lynn.

              In my case, it isn’t that I hate my first name (I was named after my mom. Her name came out of her dad’s nickname). But I have never used it, personally or professionally. My folks always used Lynn, and the other just isn’t a name I answer to.

            2. Rob aka Mediancat*

              My mother’s name at birth was on the order of “Alexandra Catherine Jones,” with everyone calling her Cathy. When she married my father, she became “Alexandra Jones McDougal,” but continued to go by Cathy. Whenever she had people calling her “Alexandra,” or worse, “Allie,” she knew that person wasn’t a friend of hers, and would react accordingly.

          2. Jamie*

            I don’t use mine either, and I regret not dropping it. My parents died when I was younger and my first name meant a lot to my mom so I kept it and it’s a total PITA.

            When my son hated his name I was in full support of him doing a full change to what made him happy.

            To the OP – I’ve been in IT a long time and if their claim that this is their first request is true I would be SHOCKED. This is such a common thing I always asked people how they wanted their name in email to read when I set them up.

            1. Working Mom Having It All*

              Yeah, this really reads to me like someone who is relatively junior not knowing how to do something and covering their own ass by hoping that the request will just go away. Because not going by your first name is really, really common.

              1. On Hold*

                Mhm. My father and cousin have both been called by their middle names since birth, because my family has a habit of naming kids in the way that sounds nicest, rather than putting the primary name first by default. So if they like the sound of Middle First better than First Middle, you’re officially named Middle First Last on the birth certificate and then call you by First, even though it’s technically your middle name.

            2. Not a cat*

              Yep! Just started a new gig and the IT Manager asked me how I wanted my name in my email. I have heard in certain industries (finance, government) that the preference is ‘legal name’ and overtime that may have been interpreted as MUST USE LEGAL NAME.

        2. GeoffreyB*

          I work in a tech-adjacent organization of 2000-odd people that has been around for decades, has about 50% female staff. About ten years ago, one of my co-workers got married and changed her name, and wanted to get this change made in work IT systems… and there was no established process for doing this. I still don’t understand how this is possible.

          Thankfully, things have improved since then, and our IT systems include a field for “preferred name” – also helpful for people from cultures where the first name is the family name, and other such cases.

          1. Meagain*

            Eh. At the small college I work in we have very few standard protocols. My first name is normal, but legally spelled differently. At old job when O365 showed up people would just type standard spelling name instead of autopopulating. Go figure I didn’t show up at meetings.

            Fortunately at new small college I got it changed to shortened first name alleviating people who can’t pay attention to spelling.

          2. Vanellope*

            Do you work with me?? I got married in 2007 and my computer log in and various software programs still have my maiden initial. Of course subsequent software / VPN logins use my current initial, so any IT support call is a nightmare, trying to remember what goes with what. But yet an overall update to my accounts has not happened…

            1. Observer*

              I almost never change log ins when people’s names change. But I most definitely DO change email addresses and display names.

              Logins are harder to change and have a greater potential to create unexpected problems. They are also a lot less significant. On the other hand the email address, and the way your name displays to the public ARE significant.

              OP, please tell whoever you kick this to, that you know that it is ABSOLUTELY possible for your email address and display name to be changed. In my opinion, IT is being petty and someone is on a bit of a power trip by insisting on STANDARDS (either that or is too incompetent to know the difference between ACTUAL standards and a convenient rule of thumb.)

              In the meantime, create auto-signatures that have your correct name, to help ameliorate the problem a bit.

              1. SpaceySteph*

                My married name change (including changing my username to be first initial new last name) went through one Friday at 9am and that was the moment that every website in the work computer system simultaneously prompted for my password and then kicked me off. I was actively in the middle of commanding to a spacecraft at that exact moment and could no longer access my procedure.

                And then at the end of my shift I went to do my timecard and of course could not log into it either. Good times.

            2. TooTiredToThink*

              As someone who worked in IT and was responsible for updating the application usernames – have you submitted a request to do so?

              HR would receive the updates to names and update their systems *but would not let us in IT know* – and the user just assumed that HR and IT were in communication with each other and then would stew at IT for not changing the name. We didn’t know. And then there were the times when the Network people (email, vpn, etc…) might find out but then I would never be told. We finally got a process in place so we could make changes, but it took ages.

              But also, some applications you can’t just change the name. It might require a brand new account which meant a brand new license, so those we couldn’t change, so that happens too.

              1. Jadelyn*

                It also happens in the other direction, too – I’m in HR and there have been a few times where the first time I heard of someone’s name-change was when IT forwarded me a request they’d received. (Our IT is pretty strict about their records being in line with HR’s records for personnel details, so they won’t make changes without HR’s approval – I’ve had to argue that someone wanting to have a nickname as their display name didn’t need HR’s okay, I give exactly zero fucks if someone wants to show up as Jacqueline or Jackie, please stop asking me to approve little stuff like that. I do appreciate that they get in touch for last name changes though.)

                From my end, when someone comes to me with a name-change (because I manage our HRIS and am the one who puts in name changes and stuff like that), I *ask them* if they want IT notified. Sometimes people say no, they’re fine leaving it with their previous name, and in those cases I let it go. Sometimes people say yes please, and I forward it to IT.

      2. Librarian of SHIELD*

        Yeah, I also don’t go by my given name. In my college jobs, it never occurred to me that asking for my email address to be the name I actually use was a thing I could do. But then, low and behold, I arrive at my first job after graduation and introduce myself at new employee orientation. And the director attending the session says “oh, you go by Hildegard? I’ll make sure IT and marketing know so we can have the correct name on your email and business cards.” I received my email login credentials that afternoon, under my preferred name. And I work for the government, which isn’t really known for flexibility. If my employers can match up my email name with the name people actually call me, OP’s can too.

        1. londonedit*

          Same here. I use a shortened version of my full first name (to the point where a lot of people who have met me in the last 20 years don’t actually know that I have a different first name on my passport/driving licence/birth certificate). When I applied for my first job after university, I didn’t realise that you didn’t have to use your ‘official’ name on your CV, so when I turned up for work on my first day, my email address was officialfirstname.lastname. Even though I had the name I actually use in my signature, it was always really confusing for people and I often ended up being called by a name I never use (my mum only uses it when she’s angry with me!) Since then I’ve used my preferred name on my CV, and whenever I’ve changed jobs I’ve made a point of asking HR if they can make sure my preferred name is used for everything except official stuff like tax and whatnot. Where I am now, there’s actually a space on the forms you fill in when you join for ‘preferred name’, which is great.

          1. Leviyah Gray*

            That’s what I do. My email has literally nothing to do with my name, and if I’m asked about it, I simply say, “Because I don’t lije my legal name, so only use it for legal purposes like job apps, taxes, banking, contracts, and pay.”

          2. Media Monkey*

            my legal surname (since marriage) is not the name i use for work. I have always been employed as my maiden name, and my tax details, salary etc are in my maiden name but paid into a bank account in my married name. Never had an issue (UK)

            1. diehardfan*

              I’m from the US and am in a similar situation. I got married after 2 years of working for my company and then changed my name. Because of my field, I didn’t want to use my married name professionally, and they agreed to keep my email address with my maiden name, even with all my legal documents using my married name. I have had zero problems with this.

            2. Thany*

              I have done the same thing where I use my maiden name professionally, and my married name for taxes and insurance. I have done this with two different employers and never had an issue.

          3. Elsajeni*

            It really does make a surprising amount of trouble — I go by an extremely common nickname of an extremely common first name, but even having “elastname” in my email address when people know me as “Liz” has made me hard to find! People just don’t think about looking for you under an alternate name, and of course, if you work with people from other cultures, they may have no idea what nicknames typically go with what legal names. And in a case like the OP’s, where the two names presumably aren’t connected at all, it would be even more trouble — at least SOME people, when they can’t find me under L, have enough context to go “ohhhh I bet she’s an Elizabeth actually.”

          4. PrettySticks*

            Yes, this exact thing happened to me! Let’s say I’m Katrina, but I’ve been Katie my whole life (and I wouldn’t even turn around if someone yelled “Katrina”). But when I first applied for jobs, my mom told me that it was totally inappropriate to put “Katie” on a resume. So at my first job, my email is Katrina.Jones, and no, they couldn’t change it – it was policy to use legal names. Even the CEO, who was semi-famous as “Joe” had Joseph as his email address. Then a new employee starts, and his email is Bill.Johnson, and I learn that not only is it a nickname – William was his middle name! I asked how he pulled that off, and he hadn’t tried to do anything tricky – Bill was on his resume. So they weren’t even going by HR docs or anything, just the first name they saw(?) This was also a national company, with a global address book, and there was a Katherine.Jones at some office across the country, so this poor person was constantly getting emails from folks looking for Katie.

            You better believe every subsequent resume had “Katie” on it:) Newsflash: no one cares!

        2. Night Cheese*

          Yes, the college where I work has an option for preferred name, which becomes the name in the email line, and shows up in the campus directory.

          1. tamarack and fireweed*

            Ours too.

            And given this is a university, I’d consider it completely impossible they haven’t had to deal with name display issues and requests before (and messed up some people’s culturally appropriate patterns). While most software packages apparently *are* very hard to convince to adopt the “surname first” style used in some areas (Hungary, China, other Asian countries), given name displays are fixable and OF COURSE should be fixed. And unanticipated requests are commonplace. This thread alone has many people who go by their middle names (or other non-first-in-order out of a list of given names). Then there’s initial + name, name + initial, two initials, Spanish people with matronymic and patronymic family names… Recently, a Korean co-worker had to fight to get his given name sorted out – Korean ones commonly are in two parts without a hyphen between them. On the software developer side, there’s ample material available to raise awareness about name display issues (an amusing one: ) . So, yes, this is worth keeping to push about. The systems is there to serve your needs, not the other way around.

        3. wittyrepartee*

          Yeah, but the government has a really diverse workforce. Things like “oh, I actually have two last names, one of which is listed as my middle name” happen ALL THE TIME.

          1. SpaceySteph*

            I work for a government agency and have for 10 years. It was sometime after I started that they finally allowed people to start using modified names in the computer system. Before that it was automatically and your display name was your legal first and last name. I remember trying to find Steven Smith (not his real name) in the directory and couldn’t because Steven was his middle name and he was in global as Gerald S. Smith and you just had to “know.” Now you can be Steven Smith or Gerald Smith {Steven}, but that’s a relatively recent update.

      3. ..Kat..*

        If tech companies had gone with “this hasn’t been done before,” there would be no email. And as such LW would not have a problem.

          1. 2 Cents*

            Not at IT departments where I’ve worked. If anything smells of a) extra work and b) outside what they “always” do, good luck.

          2. Rainy*

            The IT at my higher ed employer has decided what nicknames are allowed to go with what first names and won’t let you use an email alias unless they think your nickname is the “right” nickname for your legal given name.

            So I can’t get an email alias with the name I use (Rainy) because my legal given name isn’t Rainbow, which is the only one they’ve decided is legitimate if you go by Rainy.

            Who do they think they are, L’Académie Française?!

            1. Jadelyn*

              …that’s…that’s such an amazingly rigid form of pseudo-flexibility I’m genuinely amazed.

      4. Anonomoose*

        Uni IT guy here: this is super unreasonable. There is nothing in having a different name for email that will break the system. It’s also absolutely reasonable to bring up with, say, the head of IT, as it’s a policy change. Skip the middle man, email the head of IT, mention the potential discrimination issue. If IT Head is any good, they’ll turn pale, and get it sorted very quickly, as no one wants “I created an email account policy that got the university sued for discrimination” on their resume.

        1. Mybelle*

          Particularly if the uni has many foreign students with names that aren’t easily rendered in English. Now, if the person with the non-English name wants their name listed in it’s original form, one should always do that. But if someone wants to use a nickname to make it easier on others, that’s their right.

          I have a name that’s very, very simple for native-English speakers to pronounce. I’ve lived in two foreign countries where it was difficult, so I went by an acceptable variant of my name. While I was in both countries, my email was the variant.

          None of this should be up to IT. There should be a policy that sets the emails according to a protocol unless asked to deviate. Then they should deviate.

          This is all about making IT’s job easier by setting up one rule. It’s not about what is possible or smart.

          1. Observer*

            What blows me away here is that it’s SUCH an easy thing to do with most email systems that I suspect that it’s not just about making things easier for the IT staff. I mean, even if every single person in the place asked for a different display / email name, it would not be that much work.

            1. Mybelle*

              Depends on the system and how they set it up. Also, how big is the Uni? Are we talking 10,000 people or 100,000?

              If it has to go through one person and this were say, a campus network the size of Penn State, it would be too much work.

              In any event, it’s weirdly inflexible and unreasonable.

              1. Observer*

                If there is only ONE person who can deal with this in a system that size, then they are understaffed anyway. Changing an email address takes less than a minute if what the person wants is just to be able to send and receive emails with that email address. If they want to nuke any trace of the old email addresses, add another minute unless the address is the account name.

      5. Lena Clare*

        Yep, indeed. I went by a short form of my name for years before deciding to go back to the full form, which is really unusual, and no one ever knows how to spell it when they hear it over the phone.

        But anyway, no one had a problem with the change itself, and IT changed my email address in about 5 minutes.

        OP, your IT department are out of touch, lazy, ignorant, and possibly sexist.

      6. Works in IT*

        Our IT department sets a user’s email to whatever their name is on their official licenses. Admittedly this applies more to people who have professional licenses, whose employee identification NEEDS to match what’s on the professional license for legal reasons, but the rule is in place for everyone to avoid complaints of “but SHE can be Mary instead of Martha, why can’t I use my maiden name that isn’t on any of my licenses?”. But if users change their legal name, we are very willing to change their email address for them.

        1. Mary Connell*

          …and it turns out that that’s a serious problem for some people. Not good to have no flexibility in a system involving naming.

        2. Callie*

          There are just too many reasons that this policy isn’t a good one. People who have trauma associated with their given name; people avoiding a stalker; people who culturally use a different name than their legal name (and denying their right to use a chosen name would be discrimination); people who just don’t want every business associate to be confused about which email address to use. Exceptions are the norm, and that’s a good thing.

          1. Mybelle*

            Also, in the USA, this is potential gender discrimination.

            Linda Ann Jones builds a career and everyone knows her by that name. She marries and chooses to change her last name. IT says that her email must now read Linda Ann Smith b/c that’s her legal name.

            I can guarantee you that there are still plenty of women in US academia who use their maiden name for teaching and publication long after they’ve legally changed the last name to match a spouse.

            I know of a woman like Linda who so loved her wife’s family, she changed her name and adopted her stepkids. But Professor Linda Jones had a reputation, so she had a “work name” and a “private name.”

            Talk about gender bias AND bias against non-heternormative relationships all in one.

            1. Mybelle*

              PS. In most of the US, you can sign contracts and all sorts of other legal documents with a variation of your name. If I sign Malcom Marcus Aurelius or Malcom Aurelius or Mark Aurelius, I can still e bound. It’s even still valid if I sign it with an X b/c I can’t write.

              So, I am honestly really, really skeptical that in most cases “legal reasons” is backed by some regulation or law if this is int he USA.

              I am not saying that the poster that started this thread has it wrong in his case. I have no idea if he’s in the USA or if he works for some weird organization where “legal reasons” = “regulatory reasons.”

              1. Maeve*

                My middle name is listed as my first name on my debit card which has never been an issue for me once, I find it really hard to believe that it would be an issue with work emails!

            2. Parfait*

              This exact situation caused a giant kerfuffle at a big university I worked at. They decided that instead of having one database of professor names for the course catalog and timetables, and a separate one for payroll, they would have both systems use the same data. Sounds streamlined and efficient!

              But so many women professors have a professional name and a different legal name that it caused mass confusion. “Who’s this Madeline Smith? What happened to Madeline Bunce who was supposed to be teaching my class? Wait, did she just get married to Dr Smith in Bio? Oh they’ve been married for 20 years? Why’d she just now change her name? She didn’t? But…. huh?”

          2. Cookie Monster*

            Also, what about if you have a super common name-I do, and a lot of systems I log into my username is scommonname8 or some variation, showing that I am the 8th user with the same name-so any large employer would need a way around that issue.

        3. Glomarization, Esq.*

          That’s interesting. A colleague of mine goes by “Terri Smith-Jones.” (Not her real name, of course, but I’m basing this on her actual scenario.)

          Her full name before she was married was Hester Jessica Smith. When she first got her law license, it read “Hester Jessica Smith.” Then she got married and got her license changed to “Hester Jessica Smith-Jones.” Socially and professionally, however, she’s “Terri Smith-Jones,” that’s what her e-mail signature block says, that’s what her law firm staff bio says. She’s only ever been known socially and professionally, even before federal appeals judges, as “Terri.” Forcing her to use “Hester Jessica” would be totally unnecessary and confusing. Forcing her to change her name legally is an administrative burden at best and an intrusion into her personal business at worst (also, there have been Hesters in the family for generations). Sure do hope Lucy never has to work for your shop!

        4. WellRed*

          “whose employee identification NEEDS to match what’s on the professional license for legal reasons”

          What’s the legal reason?

            1. Mybelle*

              Also, as a lawyer, there’s a huge difference between a statute, common law, regulations, and policies.

              I’ve heard “legal reasons” used frequently for all of these. Agency policies are often treated like they are law when they are not.

              Fear of being sued for some reason is often conflated as “legal reasons” even when the person taking the action is dead wrong about what they are doing.

              I’ve seen “we will call you Mrs. Margaret Mary Mead” for “legal reasons” because we don’t want to be sued for confusing someone for x,y, and z reasons. The person making the statement cites legal reasons, but there’s no actual law behind it.

              Unless the university or organization can point to an actual act of Congress, executive order, statute, regulation, etc., it’s a policy. Policies can be changed.

              If this is in the USA, I can think of no law that would require a university email to match the operative legal documents. In fact, I can think of several that are would require the university to deviate. Particularly in California.

              Further, which legal name? My spouse has a different variation of his name on his birth certificate, and marriage certificate (both issued by the same state). Both of this differ from his passport which also differs from his social security card. This is not at all unusual.

              So, in that scenario, were there to be some requirement, I’d be very curious how an IT department would decide which name is valid and whether or not using that name violates state anti-discrimination laws in some way.

              1. Gaia*

                I wonder what they would do with me? Legally, I have no first name on my birth certificate, my passport has a first, middle, and last name, and my social security card has a first name and different last name than both my birth certificate and passport (BC and passport last names match).

                So which legal name would they use?

                Also: yay for being born in the 1980s where apparently you didn’t need to actually *prove* your legal name in any way, shape, or form to get legal documents.

                1. Mybelle*

                  I have a relative whose legal documents had two different birth years. He was born in the 1920s in the LA area. Things were apparently quite loose.

                  Wasn’t a problem. Even when he was granted a very high level clearance by the US government. (He wasn’t allowed to travel overseas without escort. Even to the UK).

                2. Michaela Westen*

                  I was a young adult in the 1980’s and I unofficially changed my middle name to one given me by a manager because I liked it better. I put it on forms for a few years, then I stopped using a middle initial at all.
                  I ended up with a credit card that had my new middle initial, which I used until about 10 years ago. I still get junk mail with that middle initial. :)

                3. Epiphyta*

                  Last month I was organizing my “You have 15 minutes to evacuate” file and realized I didn’t have certified copies of either my marriage certificate, or the divorce certificate from my previous marriage. Not a problem! Went to the state health department’s vital records website, filled out the online forms, went about my day.

                  Two days later, I got a call from a friendly woman wanting to confirm that they had the right person: I had forgotten that when I applied for the first marriage license, the only ID I had was my university student ID, as I didn’t drive then. That ID had my nickname on it, a shortened form of my first name; by the time of my second marriage, I’d learned to drive and gotten a passport, so my full first name was on the documentation used for that.

                  We agreed that 35 years ago, local folks were a lot more relaxed about those things!

          1. desktop ladybug*

            I am trying to figure that out. I work for doctors, and the name on their claims has to match the name on their license, but that’s it. We can use anything they would like for email, windows login, etc. Our practice management software barely functions, but even it will allow us to set a provider up to operate with their preferred name and bill with a license name.

            1. Gaia*

              That’s the only thing I could think of: medical claims. But that literally only matters for the claim. The insurance company is never going to care what their email is.

            2. Elizabeth*

              We’re required by state department of health regulations to have whatever name appears in the medical record as the documenter be the same as appears on the license of the documenter. So, if you’re Amanda Jane Smith, R.N., on your license, your name will be Amanda Jane Smith in the electronic record system. We can’t change the underlying setup if Amanda Jane Smith changes her name to Jane Smith Crabapple, but we can change the name.

              This causes problems when individuals delay updating their license to match their name on the Social Security card. We’ve had users who delay a year or more, because they don’t want to pay the change fee for the license and then have to renew the license a relatively short time later, which has its own cost. They get upset that we have to keep the name in the system matching the license until we get confirmation that the license has changed, because “But I changed my name!”. No, you didn’t, not with your licensing agency…

            3. WS*

              +1. We have to record the legal name for both doctors and patients. We don’t have to actually use it.

          2. Matilda Jefferies*

            We had a huge discussion about this a few years ago. Someone was trying to write a policy that everyone’s employee ID, email, etc had to match the legal name on their registration. (This is in health care – mostly nurses, but also some dieticians, dental hygienists, etc.) The draft policy as written was going to say that any exceptions must be approved by HR.

            The stated reason was that we needed to know that our staff are giving the same name to their clients as they are to their managers. So if a client has a complaint, we need to be sure that the person they’re referring to as “Jennifer Chan” is also the same person we know in the office as Jennifer Chan. Yes, okay, obviously. But if Jennifer has introduced herself to her clients as “Jen,” it’s not much of a stretch to assume that this is the same person; and no, she absolutely does not need approval from HR to do this.

            I think it’s a case of taking a reasonable rule (we need to know how you identify yourself to your clients), and trying to make a policy that will cover all possible applications of this rule. Some things really can be left up to judgement and common sense.

          3. Legal Beagle*

            There are professional rules dictating how lawyers can use their name professionally, to identify/advertise themselves to potential clients. But, it still wouldn’t require using your legal name if you typically go by a nickname or some other variation. (I believe it’s more of a consistency and accuracy requirement – you can’t use someone else’s name, for example.)

            1. Mybelle*

              Yep. The states I’m barred in would mean that if I use any name other than my actual name for my law office, I have to register that with the state and include d.b.a. In documents.

              But no one cares about email. I know of a judge who uses gmail for his official correspondence and it’s something like “judgeofcountyX….”

        5. Cranky Neighbot*

          That can be kind of a problem, though. I had a classmate in college who was transgender. Someone in our school’s office, in defiance of the school’s policy, wouldn’t give him a new ID.

          This meant that he was outed every time someone saw his ID (and incorrect name and old photo), when he picked up food in the cafeteria or when he registered for classes. He didn’t really talk about discrimination, but I saw people behave pretty badly towards him. It always started with the stupid ID.

          1. Gaia*

            That’s really horrible. I don’t understand why folks get so caught up on forcing someone who is transgender to use an incorrect gender and/or name. How is it any of their business?

          2. we're basically gods*

            I worked at a place in college where we had to get ID with every credit card (yes, I know it’s stupid and doesn’t help with anything at all, management was stupid), and I watched a guys face visibly fall when I asked him for his ID, which blatantly misgendered him. I handed it back to him, beamed, and said “Thanks, man!”, which got him to perk right back up.
            But that interaction could have gone… a lot worse for him, and based on how deflated he got when I asked for ID, that type of interaction *had* gone worse for him in the past. The whole ID thing is such a mess.

          3. Quill*

            That’s terrible. One of my friends got outed to his parents during graduation because he asked for his seat label to be changed… and they asked his parents if that was what *THEY* wanted! (He couldn’t get his diploma in anything but his deadname either because of parents + lack of legal name change.)

            Looking back we should have tried harder to head these things off at the pass instead of just chasing each other around with the misgender corrector squirt bottle for the first few months after he came out to us…

        6. Mybelle*

          The only legal requirement I can think of in the US wrt to names is that the tax forms (e.g., W2, W4, and I9s) have to match the social security card.

          If any other lawyers know of anything else, please share.

          1. iglwif*

            … although my social security card was issued when I was a wee child and has never been updated (I’m a dual citizen born abroad, my parents applied for the card and I’ve never even seen it), which means it absolutely does not match my W2s or anything else, and yet I manage to file my US tax return every year. Maybe I’ve just been lucky!

            I know that airlines / airport security folk insist that your ticket and boarding pass match your passport exactly (which makes my tickets and boarding passes hilarious because my full legal name is in four parts, three of which get squished together and often truncated), but I’m not sure whether that’s a legit legal requirement or just more security theatre…

        7. Observer*

          but the rule is in place for everyone to avoid complaints of “but SHE can be Mary instead of Martha, why can’t I use my maiden name that isn’t on any of my licenses?”.

          That’s a very good question. Sure, their ID and licenses have to have their legal name on it. But email is *NOT* ID, so who cares what someone is going by in person?

          Also, if you are talking about functional adults here, it kind of boggles my mind that you are using a rule that’s more appropriate for pre-school than a workplace. (And even in preschool that tends to be a problem.) Do you REALLY think that a policy that differentiates between nicknames and surnames that need to match licenses is something that your staff can’t understand?

      7. Hey Karma, Over Here*

        This happened at my friend’s company. She told me that someone in corporate IT of a nationwide company decided to standardize emails. Because someone needed to boss very bossily before annual reviews, I guess? So Jim was now James, because that mattered! And Bob was now Andrew because that was his first name. And Chip became Michael, which was a surprise (and pain) to his team and clients because nobody knew that. Stupid. Stupid. Stupid decision.

        1. Goldfinch*

          I saw this happen at an old job, it did NOT go well. Particularly when IT assumed that “San” was actually “Sam” and changed his name to “Samuel”. That was a major cultural screw-up.

          1. Rob aka Mediancat*

            — and even if they read it right they’re making an assumption that it’s short for Samuel, and not Samson, Samael, Samwise, Samantha, or even that they weren’t just flat out named Sam in the first place.

            1. Amethystmoon*

              Right, I have two friends. One is named legally Cynthia and the other is legally named Cindy. Cindy got told quite a bit that she was a Cynthia, even though she was not. Organizations need to not assume these things.

              1. Kat in VA*

                I particularly love it when I tell people my name is Kat, and they go straight to, “OK, Kathy, blurb blurb blurb.” No, I said Kat, there’s no -thy at the end there, Y U DO DIS. Pat, I can understand, but why are you making my name longer?

            2. Don P.*

              There was a MASH episode where Hawkeye tries to discover what BJ’s real name is. He keeps answering “my full name is BJ”. Turns out his legal name is Bee Jay Hunnicut, after his Aunt Bee(Bea?) and his Uncle Jay.

        2. Quill*

          I’m getting flashbacks to the substitute teacher who spent 10 minutes quizzing me about what my “real” name was (It really is not short for anything. It’s just uncommon) to the point that half the class was shouting “that is her full name!”

          Add to this the fact that nobody can SPELL anything they think must be my “full name” and I feel a hellish amount of sympathy for everyone in this story.

          (Nothing like as appalling as the sub who tried to send me and the class’ only black girl to the office because she thought we were “pulling a prank” because apparently black girls aren’t named Rachel (obviously not her real name) and no white girl would have a “made up name” (like mine, which is actually… obscurely scottish) but fortunately she crossed a line severe enough that we never saw her again.)

          1. wittyrepartee*

            Yup, I got crap in preschool when no one believed my middle name was my mom’s maiden name, which is ethnic. They kept on telling me my middle name was Chelsea. It was not. My mom explained it to them.

            On the sub: Wow. What a terrible day you must have had.

            1. Quill*

              Early 00’s in the upper midwest were a running list of clashes with the weird and out of touch who turned up to sub. The teachers were usually appalled (She said WHAT? She gave you an assignment that had nothing to do with the lesson plan? Where did she get a copy of “The Miracle of Life” to show you, I left Bill Nye ON MY DESK?)

              If we’d been allowed to do quotes for yearbook mine would have been “Yes, that IS my name.”
              (and it’s not hard… five letters. spelled phonetically. I have never had a single person with experience in any romance language, or even German, have trouble with it. But random subs who spent an hour talking about how they think God revived a butterfly for them instead of shutting up and letting us read about photosynthesis? Every time. Every time.)

              “Rachel” and I ended up bonding over having ‘weird’ hair and the ‘wrong’ name after all of it. :)

              1. wittyrepartee*

                Heh, well- we know why those subs did not get jobs as teachers. I wonder if most of the best subs ascend to full-time teaching roles, leaving the real oddballs.

                1. Quill*

                  That’s how my mom started teaching – people begged her to do their long term substituting (maternity leaves, etc,) and their science and math classes because she was actually 1) qualified to explain the subject matter 2) committed 3) not some random weirdo who didn’t like kids. So she decided to go back to school for the license and degree.

          2. EvilQueenRegina*

            A sub once accused this kid in my class of pulling a prank every time he insisted he wasn’t called Colin (his last name was something similar to that and she had misheard it at some point). She wouldn’t have it when he tried telling her he was really called James, and kept calling him Colin for ages until she actually looked properly at that class list and realised that there really was no Colin but there was a James.

            (He sat next to a kid who had tried pranking her by pretending his name was John Lennon, which may have contributed to why she thought he was pranking her too).

          3. hey*

            This happened to my supervisor. She started her at 22, about 10 years before I did, but the person was still around when I showed up.
            “Karma, can you take this package to Georgia, please?”
            Me, newly arrived, highly nervous and not knowing who the heck Georgia was, stared for a second, because she wasn’t going to help me. “Oh, sure, Gia, my boss.” Get a smug smile back, and thank you.
            Take it to my boss.
            “Here you go, ‘Georgia’.”
            “I see you’ve been talking to Jane. Yeah, my name is Gia. She insists that’s a nickname and it’s Georgia. I just ignore because she’s an ass I don’t really have to interact with her.”

          4. Demon Llama*

            OMG thank you for the flashback to the teacher who told me “oh I’ll just pencil in your name how I think it should be spelled” when she took our register.

            Flames. Flames on the side of my face.

            (Not that it matters, but my name is 3 letters long. It just has a slightly unusual, BUT ABSOLUTELY VALID, spelling. Apparently that was too much for her. Grrrrr.)

          5. Nancie*

            I got a paddling (back when that was still a thing) in first grade for refusing to spell my name “correctly”.

            On the plus side, I still remember the satisfaction I felt when my mother came to school to correct the teacher, and the teacher apologized.

          6. pamela voorhees*

            Flashbacks to my school friends Anders (the Scandinavian version of “Andrew”, but not in fact a nickname for Andrew) and Ashley (who was a boy and went by Ash, but whose name still read Ashley on the class roster) that had to take an entire class period explaining to the substitute that they were not messing with her. She nearly sent Ash to the principal’s office before another teacher heard how loudly we were complaining, came in, and just said, “why are you yelling at Ash and Anders?”

      8. Stitch*

        I work in a group of 25. In that 25 we have two people who go by their middle name and one person who goes by a nickname (he’s a junior). This is not rare at all.

        1. SB*

          I’ve known many people who went by middle names in my career, either because they didn’t like their first name, or they were a “Jr.” and grew up going by their middle name, or their given name was as common as dirt, so they went by a middle name for better differentiation, or they were an immigrant who chose a Western name to avoid having their given name mangled.

          1. Ev*

            Yup – my dad is a “the third”. His dad was [first name] Jr and my dad has gone by his middle name his entire life. Because that’s *his name*.

      9. SheLooksFamiliar*

        I worked with a company that had a sensible policy regarding email addresses. When they onboarded new employees, they used the name on the resume when they set up user accounts. The assumption was, that’s the name the person uses in in a business environment and, therefore, their preferred name. In the odd case when someone used their ‘legal’ or their ‘given’ names on their resume – ‘I’m Upton Sinquential the Third, but I go by John.’ – it was no big deal to change their email profile.

        I understand compliance with style guides and all that, but makng employees go by names they don’t use is rigid and paternal.

      10. General von Klinkerhoffen*

        Having had a similar/related problem, the answer to “we’ve never encountered this before” needs to be an assertive “so now is the time to work out how to accommodate it”.

        It’s completely absurd to insist on being so inflexible when there are a million legitimate and common reasons not to be using the exact first name and surname as displayed on your passport (e.g. the aforementioned transition, but even as simple as using “Beth” from Elizabeth or “TJ” from Tyrone James).

        1. Hey Karma, Over here.*

          Flashing back to the letter writer whose future coworker said his name “King” was unacceptable because of Jesus, and the company asked him if he’d just use a different name.
          (So what if they hired a actual Jesus or Christian or Faith or Madonna? I’m so curious!)

      11. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

        (Apologies if any of the following has been said—I wasn’t able to read all the prior comments.)

        It’s absurd. I’ve worked at several universities, and it’s very common for people to go by a nick name or middle name. I have a colleague whose name is Martha that goes by “Marty” (and whose display name reflects that), and a Catherine T. who goes by “KT.” Then there’s Michael who goes by “Jack,” and an Isadora who goes by “Dorie.” Put bluntly, IT probably set up a standard process or script for originating accounts, and changing the display name probably takes additional manual effort that they don’t want to entertain. I suspect they don’t want to set precedent that would encourage others to request changes.

        But this policy is terribly wrong-headed. What will they do when a trans person requests that they go by their name, but their legal first name hasn’t yet been changed? Or when someone from a community with different naming conventions (e.g., family name is listed as the first name when it’s not their familiar name, or there is no last name)? This rigidity is not only morally and functionally problematic, it’s a recipe for a civil rights complaint.

        Campus IT can accommodate this pretty easily. I’d go over their head if OP feels strongly enough (it sounds like they do).

        1. Mama Bear*

          Agreed. It is also not uncommon for folks with unusual names to go by a nickname instead of having to correct people all the time. My mother goes by her middle name professionally and I never ever use a common nickname. When we made badges at work, we had everyone write down their preferred name and spelling. I don’t assume that Mike is Michael or vice versa. There’s just no good reason for this to not be updated. I hope OP gets traction when pointing out having to waste time correcting people constantly to their boss. I wonder, too, what OP’s business cards (if they use some) say? If they say the preferred name, then IT needs to make it match. It’s an unprofessional burden on OP not to change it.

        2. Windchime*

          I work for a state university and we are allowed to choose our own email addresses. One of the first things you do as part of the on-boarding (before your first day of work, even) is to set up your account. You simply choose what you want your email address to be and it’s done. Of course, if someone else is already using “”, then they will make suggestions or you just keep changing it until you find a variation that works. It’s easy. Most people set up some combination of their first and last names, but many also choose something else. It really doesn’t have to be that hard.

      12. TootsNYC*

        My company has a policy that your email name MUST match your PeopleSoft name, and your PeopleSoft name MUST match your legal name (I guess they get it from Social Security).

        HOWEVER: they still have created second email addresses that redirect to the original email box.

        1. TootsNYC*

          Oh, and there was Amy Ryan, who raised holy hell when the IT group at a different company tried to insist, insist, that she stick with the company convention of first initial, last name.

          1. Mama Bear*

            Oh my. The route I would take there is does the company want a potentially awkward association when a small change like using her full first name would help.

          2. Hey Karma, Over here.*

            Holy crap. Took me a second. Yeah, why would the company even want that in their system? It’s going to come up in a search sometime by somebody. Think, people.

          3. Curmudgeon in California*


            At my (university) employer, when you first onboard, you can usually pick your uid. Lots of people get stuck with the default that someone else picks, or one of the three “suggestions” based on their legal name, because they think they can change it later. Nope. It nearly takes and act of deity to get a new one, and uids are never reissued. So if you want to avoid that nightmare, you pick something only barely name tied.

            OTOH, you can change your name and email aliases at any time. Sure, your wallet name may be John Jacob Jingleheimer-Schmidt, but you can go by JJ Longname if you want, and pick your email accordingly. IT can’t tell you you have to use a deadname for your email. It’s up to you.

            Your legal name and your display name are able to be different in LDAP/AD. IMO, that the way it should be.

        2. Observer*

          That’s not a terrible solution, because it lets someone use the correct name in public facing situations.

      13. Rachael*

        I agree. I know that all they have to do is put it in the system. The IT dept at my last job tried to tell me that they couldn’t change my last name for my network login when i remarried and I went above their heads. They moved a bit faster when I told them that it will cause me distress to have to login with my ex-husband’s last name and I wasn’t going to stop asking. Magically, it was changed so they were just blowing smoke.

      14. Ama*

        I had a similar experience with IT when I worked at a university. It wasn’t over a name change but it was a very simple request (basically creating a general email for our department so simple admin requests that our student workers could handle didn’t all bottleneck in my personal work inbox) and they insisted it wasn’t possible. It was plenty possible (our email system ran through gmail and I had used the same setup at an outside volunteer job), they just hadn’t ever done it before so they didn’t want to try to figure out how to do it. My boss even complained to the head of IT and was told no.

        It actually was the straw that broke the camel’s back in me deciding to leave, since the university couldn’t provide even the most basic thing I needed to have my job not be a total nightmare.

        1. Curmudgeon in California*

          Even Outlook has the ability to do email distribution lists, so they were so full of it that it was leaking out of their ears. Plus, a good university has mailman or something like it for interest groups, etc, to set up mailing lists.

          Good on you for leaving that toxic mess.

      15. Sarah N.*

        I also 100% do not believe this is true. In a small organization of 5 people, sure, maybe you never randomly got that request before. A UNIVERSITY?!!!! So many people don’t go by their legal first names (either using a middle name, or they’re trans, or they just happen to go by a different name) that I think it is literally impossible that a university wouldn’t deal with dozens of these requests each year.

      16. Quinalla*

        I’ve heard of stubborn IT departments before, but this is ridiculous. Plenty of people do not go by their given names at all or go by their middle name, this is not unusual. Even if LW2 is the first to bring this to them (for this particular policy change, sounds like it was no issue in the past), oh well, figure out how to fix it. Beyond the LW personal preference (which should be respected regardless!) it is definitely going to confuse clients and cause a huge amount of headache for her correcting people all day long. Go above IT – to your boss or HR or whoever makes sense in your company – and if you go to HR, I too would bring up how this policy is not going to be workable for any trans people and what about someone who legally changes their name? What is the policy for that?

        Ugh, stuff like this make me steam :)

      17. Don't get salty*

        And I’m pretty sure once people learn that they don’t have to use their given name by IT, many more requests are going to come through for people to display their preferred name. That might be what IT is fearing. Nevertheless, if they persist, this is something that needs to go up the chain. It’s a matter of dealing with the person with the power and authority to actually change the procedure versus arguing with the worker.

    2. Ginger ale for all*

      I feel your pain LW2. I go by a shortened version of my official name and visibly flinch when someone calls me by my given name. When I first got my work email address decades ago, I met with the same problem. The IT guy told me it was unprofessional of me to go by a shortened version. And he used Bob instead of Robert (not his real name in this post of course). I was finally able to get it changed when he left for another job. When word got around about his not letting me use my nickname and he used his, I got to hear very interesting stories about the nutcase. If I had to go through it again, I would have climbed the ladder at my university about the discrimination. Check to see if others are in your boat as well. I would bet you might have a Peg instead of a Margaret or another middle name fan working with you.

      1. dealing with dragons*

        My official name is a shortened version of an “actual” name – even that is confusing for people.

        1. WonderingHowIGotIntoThis*

          Oh yes, my poor hubby, whose legal name (on his passport, marriage licence, etc) is Bob will offend receive legal documents (our latest mortgage application for a start) addressed to Robert.
          Which makes me wonder if the semi recent trend of Alfies are going to find their driving licences being issues to Alfred…

          Go over ITs head on this one OP, and I say this as someone who’s Bob works in IT and complains about this level of lunacy on a weekly basis!

          1. RUKiddingMe*

            My birth name was the sane way. Think “Patty” instead if “Patricia” (not my real birth name). Bonus, it was already very old fashioned (never to make a return) when I was born.

            I had teachers insist that I didn’t know that my own name was actually “Patricia.”

            As it happened I hated (hated!) both my first and *middle names with a burning passion and decided right about second grade that when I was old enough that I would change it. And…I did.

            I don’t even recognize the old name at this point. Say it a thousand times and I won’t turn around…it’s not me. Not to make a point, just that literally I font recognize that name belonging to me.

            *Middle name was my mom’s middle name, which she went by because she hated her first name.

            1. 8DaysAWeek*

              Same for me. I had someone actually fight with me that my real name can’t possibly be “Chrissy” it MUST be “Christine”.
              My son gets it too. His legal name is the short version….”Joe” vs “Joseph”.

              1. Sans Serif*

                Same thing here. I had a teacher in elementary school insist I didn’t know my own name, that it couldn’t possibly be Cindi instead of Cynthia. She actually called my mom … and then never spoke of it again. lol

                Oh, and for my high school yearbook, they distributed forms asking what your preferred name would be. Didn’t matter if it’s first name, last name, nickname, etc. So I figured there would be no problem with my first -name-that-sounds-like-a-nickname. Nope. My high school yearbook lists me as Cynthia.

              2. facepalm*

                Ugh, I feel your pain. I’m a woman with a traditionally male name, along the lines of Steven or William. I’ve had people ask, “Are you sure your name’s not Stephanie/Wilhelmina?” Ummmm yeah, I’m pretty sure I know my own name, thanks. I’ve had sales people accuse me of fraud when I signed my name, I’ve had all kinds of annoying stuff. I dread calling banks or credit card companies. My favorite was when a low-level guy at the power company refused to speak to me without ID when I was trying to pay my bill over the phone. (Who else would want to pay my bill??) I finally hung up and called back, got a different person, explained the situation and they were mortified but said b/c the first guy had put some kind of fraud block on my account, they actually couldn’t remove it unless ID was provided. I explained I was at work and under no circumstances was I going to take time off to drive to one of their offices to show my ID when I’d been a customer for over a decade. I faxed a picture of my driver’s license along with a letter accusing them of gender discrimination and harassment. The next time I logged into my account my display name had been updated from “Steven Smith” to Ms. Steven [my typically female middle name] Smith”

            2. OGV*

              I’m changing my first and middle (maybe even last!) name soon as a 30th birthday gift to myself and I’m SO. EXCITED. It will be one of the best things I’ve ever done for myself.

              1. Curmudgeon in California*


                Names are so personal that it’s a delight to be able to chose what you want and make it happen.


            3. Observer*

              What is it with teachers who tell kinds that THEY know said child’s name better than the child. I’ve had it happen to me too, and I have never, ever understood it.

          2. Works in IT*

            Note that if academia somehow works like my industry (I can’t imagine how it would, but just in case) there ARE legal considerations to having someone’s name in the system match their official, legal name, and trying to go over IT’s head would make the OP look extremely out of touch. Then again, even where I work, if you have a nickname, IT often (not always, sometimes people don’t think to give HR their nickname when they apply) adds the nickname in parentheses or quotation marks after the legal name in the display that auto populates when you type in the email address, so their nickname still appears somewhere.

            1. WonderingHowIGotIntoThis*

              Which is an important consideration if OP hadn’t pointed out that they’d previously been able to use their preferred name for YEARS before the latest arbitrary IT change

            2. Mary Connell*

              And now I’m really curious what those legal considerations are. Has a state legislature passed a law requiring email to match the professional license, or is the policy for IT convenience?

              And why would OP be considered “out of touch” if they didn’t know an arcane point of law? If there is a law, explain it. No big deal. If it’s just IT preference, then they’re right to loop in HR as Alison suggested.

              1. Ethyl*

                Yeah I think there’s a difference here between having someone’s full legal name on “the system” somewhere and having their email address be givenname.lastname@place.wevs

                I don’t think anyone is saying that the name someone files taxes as, or has their professional license under, doesn’t matter at all.

              2. Gaia*

                I can’t recall the details but I do remember that for awhile I worked in an office and assisted in some billing through Medicaid and it was made very clear that the counselor’s name had to match their license documents exactly which had to match their transcripts exactly, etc, etc. It wasn’t so much a legal issue as it was a risk that Medicaid might deny the claim. But even then, people used aliased emails all the time.

            3. Mybelle*

              Please explain this. As a lawyer, I’ve never, ever seen it or heard it. I used to work in IT prior to becoming a lawyer. In the USA and two European countries.

              In the USA, I’d be very, very surprised if there were an actual legal reason. I used to work for a DOD contract with many, many rules and regulations. I could not leave the site without being searched. But we were allowed to chose how our email read. Even the engineers with highly technical degrees and license and an ability to blow up the entire planted.

              I have several friend who works for the US government in sensitive areas (think FBI, CIA, State Department). Just checked their emails. Nope. Doesn’t appear to be the policy.

              In any event, when this is true, as it may well be in your case, it’s going to be the rare exception. Also, I’ve seen many cases where non-lawyers say “legal reasons” and it’s actually simply policy.

              I think assuming “legal reasons” for this is going to be out of touch in 99.99% of cases.

              It absolutely would not be the case in US universities for student and faculty names. There is no legal reason for it in that context.

              1. Not One of the Bronte Sisters*

                My father always went by his middle name and he was born in 1918. Let’s say his name was John Paul Jones. He always signed his name as J. Paul Jones. He was a lawyer. It was only when he was in the Army in WWII that he was not allowed to go by his middle name and he had to be Captain John P. Jones. My uncle was in the Navy, where he was also not allowed to go by his middle name, which was his preference. Otherwise, not a problem.

                1. RUKiddingMe*

                  Weird. My step-dad with a first name like “William” and a last name like “Peterson” was always “Pete” when he was in the navy (WW2 era).

                  I mean sure official stuff had his full legal name, but I’ve seen myself non-ofgicial but nevertheless still -naval communication-stuff addressed to “Pete.” ‍♀️

                2. Linda Shaver-Gleason*

                  To RUKiddingMe below:
                  That might be a military thing. My grandfather had five brothers, all of whom were in the Navy. (He served in WWII, but the youngest brothers did not.) That side of my family has a patronymic surname, like (but not) Stevenson. ALL of them were called (the equivalent of) “Stevie” in the Navy. All six.

            4. Observer*


              It’s true that there ARE legal considerations for paperwork, ID and legal names to match in some circumstances. There is no place where that affects email addresses, though. Same for staff directories, etc. although it probably makes sense to have that additional info in the directory for a company that is under such constraints.

              And, of course, none of that is relevant here anyway. IT is not pointing to regulations, but to “policy” and the stupid claim that “no one else wants to do this so you must be wrong”. And the OP has made it clear that they have been doing this for years – which also means that IT is causing a problem for everyone who needs to correspond with them.

        2. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

          I see you know my friends Jenny and Sophie (who are not Jennifer or Sophia) :)

        3. SheLooksFamiliar*

          My brother’s birth certificate says his name as Danny. Not Dan, not Daniel. He’s Danny. He’s 70 and goes by Dan, but still gets pushback when he has to use his legal name.

        4. Seeking Second Childhood*

          There was a whole M*A*S*H episode about people insisting that “BJ” Honnicutt must stand for something, and it didn’t.
          But I digress…

          1. Don P.*

            I should have scrolled down before I mentioned this above in another comment!

            (I remember it as his aunt and uncle.)

          2. Cactus*

            That was actually pretty common among southerners of a certain era to just have initials as names (it’s been a while since I last watched MASH, but every person I’ve known with the last name Hunnicutt was from the south). Johnny Cash’s given name, for example, was just JR.

      2. Asta*

        I just don’t answer when people use my real name (because I hate it and never go by it). Luckily my employer is perfectly reasonable, has a ‘known as’ box in the HR system and set up my email and directory entries with the name I actually use.

        1. iglwif*

          Which makes perfect sense as a setup because people go by things that are not their exact real name ALL THE TIME.

          My current office has only a dozen people in it, and of these, 4 go by nicknames of their first names, 2 go by a surname that’s not the full legal surname on their passport (I have 2 legal surnames and go by my spouse’s; the other person has 2 legal surnames and goes by her own), and 1 has a legal given name that people always think is short for something else, but it isn’t.

          I 100% do not believe that LW’s IT department has never been asked about this before.

      3. Ginger ale for all*

        There is one system in the academic library where I work that wouldn’t change their naming ways. You have to have a login of your first initial and then your last name. For example, Jane Doe would be jdoe. However, there was an employee whose first initial and last name made an insulting, almost vulgar word for a person of a certain stereotype. It was not something you would say in polite company and it was never changed. I have no idea if it was ever asked if it could be changed though. It made interesting conversation to see the log in in the system when you were working.

        1. Alexander*

          But it is YOUR fault that you are named Nicholas Igger or Charles Unt …our system is perfect, change your name.

          No, really, we had the same issues at our work for a time – and we obviously changed those logins (or never created them at all).
          We had a case where (in our local language) the login would have been a slang word for “Bunny” (as in “Hey Bunny, nice assets you’re having on your chest..”)… and she was head of Finance. Would surely have looked good in a board meeting or with external consultants when she has to log in to systems while presenting.. ;)

          1. That Girl From Quinn's House*

            I worked somewhere with a similar convention, first name, first initial of last name. If your name was Wakeen Furguson, and you were the first WakeenF, that would be your login. If you were the second WakeenF, your username would be WakeenFu.

            IT was able to make an exception around that.

          1. Seeking Second Childhood*

            I tried to find that on coffee break to no avail. I had that one on my wall when I was trying to get my email corrected at a new job. And dang…I’d forgotten about that.
            For some reason, the fact that I used all three names on my resume confused IT and they hyphenated my email (“Sarah.Michelle-Gellar”) so the address book had me alphabetized under my middle name. My boss went crazy that he couldn’t prefill my name in the email system and pushed the issue.
            IT fixed the address book & display name, but I was stuck with a screwy email address until we got bought out and moved to a new domain name. (And questions. For the love of bacon pants did it get boring repeating the explanation…probably why I’d blotted it out of my mind.)

        2. Decima Dewey*

          In my library system, your email is your lastname and the first letter of your first name. I’d be deweyd, if that were my real name. Where we run into trouble is when we have to email other city agencies, and their email conventions are different.

        3. Observer*

          That’s annoying, and I certainly would change it for a new person whose ID hasn’t propagated all over the place. But even when there is a reason to not change a login id, which sometimes does happen, display names and email address are a whole different kettle of fish.

      4. Anonymoose*

        My workplace would have solved your problem by all agreeing to refer to him as Robert until he changed it for you. I once encountered someone who got mad at me for using his first name in a public context, instead of his title and last name (in the context it would have actually been bad to draw attention to his title), and when I mentioned it to my boss he looked quite gleeful and said that he would only ever use the guy’s first name ever again.

        In a similar situation many years earlier, I had my reference name for my email mis-spelled by IT. I pointed it out and it didn’t change. So I decided to address the IT guy as ‘Frank’ instead of ‘Francois’. The first time I gave him a friendly “Hey Frank!” he looked unhappy and told me it was pronounced ‘Francois’, and I said “Yes, and my name is spelled m-o-o-s-e, not m-o-u-s-e”. He was quite good about it, and fixed it within minutes!

        1. TootsNYC*

          My sister (let’s call her Jo Ann) had a friend who would only call her Jo–but the name Jo is really different from Jo Ann. And all the normal things didn’t work, so she started calling her friend by every name she could think of that began with the same letter.

          I think it helped a little–but not much.

      5. Phil*

        Me too. The only people who call me by my full name-guess what it is-are my 2 sisters and people who knew me in grade school 60 years ago.

      6. Rebecca in Dallas*

        Ugh, I have fought this same battle.

        I go by my middle name, always have. I don’t dislike my first name or anything, but my parents decided I would go by my middle name so whatever. When I started this job, my preferred name was used in my email address and my display name in Outlook. Then a few years ago, IT decided to “standardize” our email display names. I argued with them about it then eventually gave up. When we switched to using Gmail, I was able to just update it myself. LOL

    3. Sue*

      I agree this is ridiculous and you should be able to get a correction but because you say how much you dislike your name, you might also want to look into legally changing it. The process is my state is very simple and inexpensive. It does require changing legal documents, such as driver’s license and passport though. But if you really hate it, might be worth it.

      1. Aphrodite*

        I agree I live in California and legally changed my entire name (first, middle, last) back in 1989. Clean, easy. If you have a choice between the court petition method and the usage method I suggest the former. You can get copies of the court order and head off those stubborn, ill-advised places that want to fight you on it. (Not government; they are used to name changes; it doesn’t phase them at all.)

        For what you want now I agree with suggestions to go above IT’s head. They are just being pigheaded

        1. PollyQ*

          Unfortunately, it can be somewhat pricey in some states — CA currently charges $435 for the privilege. Might still be worth it to OP, tho.

          1. Mel*

            Yes, when a high school friend wanted to legally change her name, her mom told her she could have that or her class ring, they cost the same and there wasn’t money for both.

          2. Artemesia*

            The hospital when my son was born ignored out wishes and registered him under his father’s name rather than the hyphenated name we had chosen (they also changed my name in his birth certificate giving me my husband’s last name which I have never used. We didn’t catch it then but managed to get him registered for school as we preferred and so it wasn’t an issue until he got his driver’s license and couldn’t get it in his name. He wanted it changed to what he went by and it cost several hundred dollars to get that done. So it is not nothing to do it.

            1. Seeking Second Childhood*

              My great-grandmother remarried when grampa was a child. After WWI, “No Irish Need Apply” meant it was easier to find work with his English stepfather’s name. He married with that name, had kids with that name… but his kids were drafted for WWII with the Irish name they’d never used. Father & sons did name change paperwork together.

      2. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        I stopped answering to the name on my birth certificate when I was like 12. Kept making noises about having it legally changed, but never actually doing. (My employer was happy to put the name I used on my email.) Then when I was 25, my then-SO and I were planning an international trip with his family. His parents bought our plane tickets as a Christmas gift – and they didn’t know that the name they had known me as for 2 years wasn’t my legal one. Turns out, since I hadn’t gotten my passport yet anyway, in the state of Washington it was cheaper to change my name than to change the ticket. So that was what finally prompted me to get around to doing the name change.

        1. londonedit*

          My mum discovered that one of her best friends’ names is actually Julia and not Julie (her friend having gone by Julie the whole time she’d known her) when she booked plane tickets for them both and then had to change one of them because the name on the ticket has to exactly match the name in your passport.

          1. London Calling*

            My mother was christened Julia and that’s the name on her birth certificate. It was YEARS before she found out that her name wasn’t Julie because that’s what everyone called her – probably because my grandmother was so cross that a) my grandfather had registered her as Julia and b) the significance of that name to my grandfather.

        2. Miss Pantalones en Fuego*

          I get this sometimes because I didn’t change my surname when I got married (slightly different situation but related). An aunt once bought me a plane ticket and I didn’t realize until a day or two beforehand that she put my name as Pantalones Hisname. For whatever reason nobody at the airport seemed to care, probably because it was a very short haul flight, but ever since then I make double sure that anyone booking travel for me doesn’t make the same mistake. I don’t mind being called Mrs Hisname socially but in anything official I’m Dr or Ms Myname. It was just easier not to change it.

          1. Media Monkey*

            i didn’t change my name at work, so always have to make really sure that anyone booking international travel knows that my passport is in my married name (as having my passport in my maiden name would cause issues any time i needed to fly with my daughter who has my married name – i would need a letter of approval from her dad – who i am still married to, there’s no issue there!).

          2. Róisín*

            I bought a plane ticket for my best friend to come visit me, and she’s a trans girl who no longer uses either her legal first or last name (for now, she doesn’t actually have a last name – whenever I have to full-name scold her for something I use my own). It took me a second to remember her deadname so I could do it!

        3. Rusty Shackelford*

          Apparently this has been an issue where I work, because the person buying my ticket for an upcoming flight asked, very specifically, for my complete actual name as shown on my ID. You can tell when someone’s been burned before.

          1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

            I don’t think we ever actually told them that they got my name wrong, since I was perfectly happy to have an excuse to get off my butt and jump through the hoops, hah! But yeah, I wouldn’t buy a plane ticket for anyone else without double-checking their info first, personally, unless I’d done so multiple times before. (If my husband is changing his name without telling me, we’ve got other issues. :P )

            1. Curmudgeon in California*

              My wife works as a travel agent. One of the forms she has specifically asks for your full legal name (as on passport or ID) as well as the name you are known by. Anything to do with TSA or international travel must be ticketed with your state sanctioned, approved name that matches your documents. She can’t book your travel without your legal name, period. But email or daily use name? Whatever you want. She’ll send the the email to freddie@gmail with the itinerary for Wilhelmina Friderich MacMunchausen.

              Not using wallet names in daily use is so common that it should be a non-issue. IMO, only jerks insist that you have to use your wallet name in day-to-day life.

          2. Alton*

            Or they’re aware that it could be an issue. As someone who doesn’t go by my legal first name, I think I’m more cautious about making sure that I refer to someone by the name they prefer and that I know their actual legal name in contexts where it’s required.

        4. Artemesia*

          A secretary in our company booking airline tickets to China booked my husband’s in my name and while we were able to cancel the ticket we were not able to change the name and there were no flights available that matched my tickets at that point; he ended up having to fly through a different city and we met up in Narita. Airlines are the worst; it costs them nothing to make the change.

      3. TootsNYC*

        My sister was fortunate to change her name at the end of high school, when her documentation in the world was limited. It actually didn’t cost money–you just had to notify everyone in writing, and then use the new name. (and not be trying to defraud, etc.)

        The lawyer suggested she start with Social Security, and then once she got the new card, use that to show to the driver’s license people, and then send letters to school, doctor, church.

        For grownups, it’s much more annoying, but there are probably ways to make the logistics easier. Maybe peg it to just before you are going to get a new passport or driver’s license.

      4. Mama Bear*

        True. We have a friend who hated his first name, so he legally changed it to first initial middle name surname and goes by his middle name.

        When I changed my name it was fairly inexpensive (like $100) and just a paperwork process. I just had to prove I wasn’t skirting the law/debts by doing it. $400 is steep, but might be worth it in the long run.

    4. Elephant in the room*

      The email assigned to me when I was hired at my last job was not even based on my actual name on my employment application or social security card. All the arguing in the world (by me, my boss, and the one female IT employee) would not convince the head IT person to change my email name. Because… it was “too difficult” to move all my records and access permissions to a new email name (on the first day of work!).
      It took a decade to get that policy changed.

      1. Leviyah Gray*

        I could not be in charge of that person. He would have exactly two choices: change it or be fired. Immediately. I have no patience for this kind of deliberate obstruction of reasonable requests.

      2. Ali G*

        I had something similar at my last job. They had me fill out an employee onboarding form so all my info for email, business cards, etc. was in one place. There was a field for my middle name and I put mine in it, but I didn’t expect them to use it. Low and behold my emails came in as FirstName MiddleName LastName. When I contacted IT they were like – well you filled out the field! And I said there was nothing on the form that indicated what it would be used for. We went back and forth all day. My boss had to finally intervene to make them remove my middle name from all my accounts. It was ridic.

        1. Artemesia*

          I have had my middle initial used on publications although I never use it and make that clear. But it is in the system somewhere and so people put it in even though I don’t use it. My name is unique enough that it is not needed to differentiate me — there are a handful in the country with my name not thousands like there are of my husband’s name. I had to actually change it on galleys of a book although I had not submitted the ms with the name they were going to use. I hate it when other people officiously decide what your name is.

        2. I'll Have That Drink Now*

          I go by my middle name too, and I took my first name off all my official records starting at age 16 with my Social Security card. Decades later, I was starting a new job, and left the middle name field blank on my paperwork. HR insisted that the field had to be filled in, so I put “(NONE)” in the blank space. When I got my employee ID badge, it read “Middlename N. Lastname.” I eventually got it fixed, but jeez.

          1. Curmudgeon in California*

            Weird. Some folks don’t have middle names – from birth. Insisting that everyone follow a certain western naming convention is biased, at best, and downright discriminatory, at worst. Some folks only have one or two names, others have five.

    5. Jarffe*

      This is such a strange stance. People have been wanting to go by something other then their legal name for at least centuries. My grandma(born in the ’20s) hated her legal name and went by a common nickname the entire time I knew her. Her preferred name and legal name even had different initials and she was in the phone book by her preference initial and that was in the 1990’s.

      1. wittyrepartee*

        Lol, and back in the day it was really common for people to have the exact same first and (if relevant) last names. That’s why old records have so many “John Tall” and “Ellis the Younger”.

      2. iglwif*

        Actually now that you mention it, one of my grandmothers also did that — and she was born in the 1890s! I was an adult before I discovered that the name she’d used my whole life wasn’t her legal name, it was just one she picked because she liked it better.

    6. sheworkshardforthemoney*

      The IT department is choosing to be tone deaf with the names. Some people use simplified versions of their name or change it completely because of the way their email name is generated. Ho@your school, for example, Ho was the real name and that person changed their name when they started high school for obvious reasons.

    7. Reliquary*

      I’m in academia.
      The problem is that IT is the wrong office for this. It’s likely HR/Personnel or Central Records.

    8. Hamburke*

      My husband goes by a dimunative name. He has both email addresses at work with the full name redirecting. It’s not hard to do as his previous jobs that was part of his duties.

      Either they don’t want to set precident or they aren’t skilled enough to know how to reset this. Or, op isn’t high enough to request that. Bring it to the boss.

    9. Alli525*

      I work at a college in the Northeast US and holy god I cannot imagine this policy ending in anything other than absolute disaster. Right now I know that the federal government doesn’t care about trans people, but someday soon they will be 100% covered under the same non-discrimination laws as LGB people and POC, and arbitrarily refusing to use anything other than their deadnames is going to result in a MOUNTAIN of lawsuits.

      Right now it’s just a serious reputational risk. All it takes is one trans student/employee going to the media. This needs to be escalated to the highest level of OP’s administration.

      1. TheFacelessOldWomanWhoSecretlyLivesinYour House*

        WHat deeral laws are LGB people covered under? As far as I know, there are none.

        1. LawBee*

          There are some EEOC rulings and executive orders for LGB, but I am unaware of any that would include trans, intersex, etc..

          1. TheFacelessOldWomanWhoSecretlyLivesinYour House*

            I believe none of those have held up in court as of yet.

      2. Anon for this, colleagues read here*

        I’m astounded that the university I work at has not been sued yet.

      3. Observer*

        It’s not just that – there are a lot of other situations that present a potential discrimination issue.

    10. Justme, The OG*

      I work at a state university (so government-ish) and two of my four coworkers have email addresses and therefore display names that are not their given names – one is a shortened version of her first name and the other one is her middle name. IT is being ridiculous to LW2.

    11. Mynona*

      I go by my legal middle name, and last worked at Harvard University. My new IT department there told me, insisted!, that it was impossible to change my auto-generated email address, which used my first name. Insisted for the entire three years of my job there. I know Harvard can change an email address. On top of that, every time I asked about it, IT acted like I was a child who didn’t understand how e-mail worked. And it did create a lot of confusion for new work contacts.

    12. Decima Dewey*

      My library system is stubborn the same way. Back when they used to send out printed memos, readers would have to figure out that the Mildred on the memo was Lynn, Omar was Dwayne, Johanna was Natalie, James was Perry, and so on.

    13. Elliot Kendall*

      University IT person here. I’ve worked at two private and one public school, and I can confirm that all three had easy processes in place for people to go by names other than their legal one, both in their online directories and for email addresses. You can probably find a ton of documentation for schools that do this with a little Google searching and present it to your IT department.

      The one thing that I could see being reasonable is refusing to change your username. That can be a lot more difficult from a technical point of view, and none of the schools I’ve worked at would do it without a very, very good reason. That said, your username shouldn’t be publicly visible very often if at all.

    14. Nana*

      Many years ago, my daughter got married and changed her last name. The (incompetent) IT person changed her email to “DonnaSmithsonusedtobewilkerman@company” Took only a few days to fix that!

    15. NotTheSameAaron*

      It used to be the standard that professionals always initialized their first name and used their middle name. ex. James John Doe would use J. John Doe, Esq.

  3. Iron Chef Boyardee*

    Re letter #2:

    “They seem mystified and have argued that no one has ever not used their legal first name. That no one has ever objected to using it. EVER.”

    ‘Well, I object. Now somebody has.’

    1. London Calling*

      “People ask all the time why we don’t sell that item. We don’t stock it because there’s no demand for it.” (Real conversation in a shop).

      I have a friend who maintains that human IQ is actually decreasing. I think she may be on to something.

      1. Harper the Other One*

        Well, that just gave me flashbacks to my time in specialty retail.
        “We never sell that $5000 widget.”
        “We don’t sell it because we don’t have one – I’ve talked to three people in the last year who have bought plane tickets to a nearby big city to buy one.”

        1. Burned Out Supervisor*

          I work part time at a niche grocery store and we sometimes can’t keep things in stock because there are supply problems with the vendor (like we legit stop carrying something because the vendor can’t figure out how to make enough or the quality has gone down). Also, people will buy a case of something and resell it on Amazon for a 20% markup.

        2. Lis*

          The bus company in the town I grew up in responded to a request for more busses from a suburb into the centre at times that would get people to work/school with “we can’t do that, too many people would want to use it” *headdesk*

      2. TootsNYC*

        my husband and I used to like this one brand of flavored rice. Whenever we saw it, we’d buy all of it. And then it wouldn’t be refilled for a long time.

        i used to joke that the store was saying, “I’m going to stop stocking this, I can’t keep it on the shelves.”

        1. Fact & Fiction*

          I have this problem with my caffeinated beverage of choice. I can only find it in certain grocery stores–but not every branch of any particular chain that carries it–and it’s like finding a needle in a haystack most of the time. Every time I find a store that stocks a good amount of it, things will go well for a few weeks or months and then BAM! They stop carrying enough of it for those of us who are buying it. Which I can guarantee is more than just me based on how much I see one week versus how much is there the next week. I have to stock up on several 12-packs at a time whenever I come across it.

          News flash to these stores: If you stock more of it, you will sell EVEN MORE OF IT! I get tweaking how much you order by small amounts, but not regularly letting it run out of stock for long periods of time.

          1. Fact & Fiction*

            Um, and I forgot to tie this back to the original post.

            This is a short-sighted and ridiculous policy, and hopefully you can escalate it to the right people to get the necessary results. Because you should definitely be able to use the actual name you go by.

            I answer to like 3-4 different names. My legal first name, the pen name I publish fiction under, and 1-2 gaming names I use online. If someone tried to dictate which name I could go by at work, I would definitely raise hell until they sorted things out in a sane, common-sense fashion.

        2. Seeking Second Childhood*

          For me it’s Norwegian goat cheese… I gave up trying to get our usual grocery to stock it and just go to Whole Paycheck when we need a treat.
          Ski Queen brunost: Come over to the dark side of the cheese, it’s wonderful on crackers.

          1. NotTheSameAaron*

            Same for Halloumi. They sell it in in small packages, with a high price. When it goes on sale, it sells out fast, and takes a month or so to restock.

    2. Lora*

      I know, right? IT’s whole argument is demolished by “there’s a first time for everything”.

      There’s no technical reason your name has to be anything other than limited to a certain character set. Like maybe they don’t do Cyrillic or punctuation or something in the software, but that’s it. They have already, I guarantee you, had to change SOMEONE’S name because it turned out there were two Commonname.Commonlastname people in the system and one had to be Commonname1 or whatever.

      It baffles me to no end why they don’t just routinely ask when they’re setting up your account what you want it to be.

      Signed, Lora “no my OTHER last name, fine then make it OtherLastName123, why can’t you do hyphens, you know what then I’ll just automatically forward to my home email and never use this crap computer anyway” who has been correcting her name for IT people for 30+ years.

    3. pleaset*

      So you keep a file of requests you’ve denied? I assume you’re adding my request to that. I’d be curious to see that file, but even if I can’t, you should hold onto it to make sure there’s not a pattern of discrimination.”

    4. Reliquary*

      It’s because at a university, this is not IT’s job. I’ve posted this elsewhere already, but it’s probably Human Resources / Personnel or Central Records or some office like that. OP 2 just needs to figure out which office handles this, and which forms get filled out.

      1. Environmental Compliance*

        Even if it’s not IT’s job and the request has to come through HR, if it’s an email change IT is still going to put through the change in the email system, which still makes their argument that no one has ever requested this before very, very odd.

        1. Rusty Shackelford*

          Right. An HR name change doesn’t necessarily mean an IT name change. This wouldn’t be the first institution to make people keep their original email address even if they change their name legally.

          1. Countess Boochie Flagrante*

            That was what mine at OldJob did. They changed the name that displayed, but not the address itself, so that it came up as “Boochie Flagrante []”

            It was pretty confusing for a lot of people.

        2. Sally*

          Maybe people requested it, were denied, and gave up. I don’t go by my legal 1st name, but at my last company, they claimed that it could not be changed. I work for an IT consulting company, so not sure why they couldn’t figure it out. I was constantly telling people my name is “this” not “that.” I finally discovered that I could use my 1st initial.last name, which worked because the name I go by starts with the same letter as my legal first name. This was a company that nickel and dime to the employees, so this situation just made me more aggravated with them.

      2. Anon for this, colleagues read here*

        Maybe. Or maybe it’s like my university where IT hath spoken and the Powers That Be hath blessed it.

        1. Pay No Attention To The Man Behind The Curtain*

          +1 on that. If the Powers That Be really have very little clue as to what IT does (which is sadly very common) then IT says “um, no we can’t do it” and the PTB just back them up on that because they don’t know.

      3. Yorick*

        But the letter says that IT has started doing it this way, so I think we can assume the problem is with IT.

      4. BethDH*

        Yes, I think this is likely! At my institution this is changed in HR. As a general rule of thumb in these situations, I’ve gotten a lot done by asking “who do I talk to do x?” instead of “can I/you do x?” You’re less likely to get the kind of refusal that’s just based on one person’s limitations.

      5. wittyrepartee*

        But sometimes you spend a half hour calling, just to get back to the first office. Then you tell them that, and they fix whatever the issue was.

      6. pleaset*

        Even if it’s not IT’s job, they’re crap for not pointing the OP in the right direction. I manage a website and get requests all the time that I cannot do because I need to be directed by the right team in our organization. So when someone asks, I tell them who to check with, or even loop that person in myself.

      7. LunaLena*

        Maybe it’s different at OP’s university, but at the one I work at, it’s totally IT’s job. I hate my first name with the passion of a thousand fiery suns, and when I started working here, one of the first things I did was have IT change the name on my email to my middle name. I didn’t even have to fill out a form, I just walked over and asked them to change it. I could have just emailed them, but at the time I was still figuring out the geography of campus and used it as an excuse to figure out where the IT department is.

        I’ve also seen other people here who have shortened versions of their names on their email (think “Maggie” instead of “Margaret”), and I doubt they went through HR for that. It’s such a mundane request and certainly not something that’s going to bring down the whole system, there’s no point in making a song and dance about it. My first name is on everything else – the online portal for timesheets and expenses, tax records, etc – along with my preferred name, but that’s for official records, not email.

      8. Observer*

        There is no sane universe in which IT doesn’t actually change email addresses, etc. Maybe sub-department X doesn’t do it, but it is ALWAYS a branch of IT. Also, if the problem is “we don’t handle that, X department does” the answer to the request is “Call X department” The answers is NOT “This cannot be done, and besides you are a weird person who wants to do something that literally no one in the world should want to do.”

    5. Mookie*

      It doesn’t even require any action or effort on their part. There is no inconvenience. This is literally none of their fucking business and not their call in any way. It’s just baffling to Jobsworth this repeatedly.

    6. Catsaber*

      That is bonkers to me. I’ve been working in higher ed IT all my career and have taken many, many, MANY support calls asking to use a different name than the legal first name. This is why we include a “preferred name” field in the student information system, and select from that field for pretty much everything that does not require use of the legal name (like visa stuff, financial aid, etc).

    7. Serin*

      An argument like “we’ve arbitrarily come up with this standard and it pains us if there’s one exception” would be annoying, but “No one could object to this” is just *bizarre.* I mean, J. Paul Getty. L. Ron Hubbard. Paul McCartney, whose first name is James. Jason Momoa, whose first name is Joseph.

      1. iglwif*

        F. Murray Abraham. R. Murray Schafer. J. Edgar Hoover. M. Night Shyamalan. Woodrow Wilson (whose first name was Thomas).

      2. MtnLaurel*

        Also to add: my maternal grandmother. My mother. My father. My husband and both his sisters. It’s probably not as common as it is in my family (weird coincidences) but it is certainly not unheard of.

    8. Nyltiak*

      It’s also really common so they’re lying. At my undergraduate university, the formula was first initial, second initial, first four letters of last name. Which meant that one of my history professors should have been “edcrap”. No professor wants that so they switched to his full last name (also 6 characters) instead. At my graduate uni it’s first initial, full last name. My advisor is Egyptian and their naming conventions are different, so his “legal” last name in the US is not how he prefers to be addressed. So IT used the surname he uses (what the US calls his middle name). These are not difficult or unusual requests, and email addresses should accurately reflect who is being emailed. If everyone knows you as Sara, but your email address is, it is nothing but confusing.

      1. NotTheSameAaron*

        People from India also do this. When your first name is something like Veshanbrapanchrabe and your middle name is Rachambralrye and your last name is Doe, you dba VR Doe.

    9. AJK*

      I go by my middle name also, and the IT department at a temp job do the same thing to me. At the end of said temp job, they wanted to offer me a permanent position, I said no, and that was more than 50% of the reason why! It felt so disrespectful, honestly, and it just got the whole job off to a bad start. (And it did not get better, either.)
      The reason they gave me was “it’s your legal name.” I pointed out that my middle name is also (part of) my legal name but that didn’t help.
      I’ve worked at many, many jobs over the years and this was the only one that ever gave me an issue. Most places it’s just “Oh, okay, no problem.”

      1. Grumpy*

        Similar here. I worked for Massive Global Corporation and my login, email, everything was a name I don’t like and never used.
        I ended up quitting, that was a huge part of why. I’ve earned the right to be called by my name.

      2. Sally*

        I used to think that I *had* to put my legal name on my resume. Once I stopped doing that, my work email addresses were what they should be (except for the bad example I mentioned up-thread).

  4. IT But I Can't Fix Your Printer*

    OP2, at my university, we have multiple bigwig faculty who go by their middle names. We actually have a custom coded process in our enterprise financial system just to replace the display name of one particular faculty member every night. There must be someone(s) like this in your university – ask around, maybe with folks in the central research offices?

    Of course, it should be perfectly reasonable for IT to accommodate your request without this extra step, but universities are frequently unreasonable places and if you can say “I’m sure Professor Smith, Fancy Endowed Chair of the Major Research Department, will want their preferred name displayed on their email as well” it will give you more leverage.

    1. Reliquary*

      I am also in academia, and at a large university. In this case, IT is most likely wrong. But with all due respect to the poster above, I would not counsel arguing with anyone in IT, and I do not think that giving examples involving anyone else’s naming practices will help you at all.

      Instead, contact someone in Personnel/HR, or in Central Records. You could even start by using your university website’s search function, and search for “preferred name.” There might be clear directions and policy statements in documents like your university’s policies and procedures manual. (The names of these sorts of documents or manuals can vary, but again, do a search on your university’s website. Student and employee name changes and name preference changes are incredibly common, so these policies are kept up-to-date at most every university.

      1. Effie, who gets to be herself*

        This is really good advice. In my company, it would be staffing’s job to update the name, not IT.

      2. MicroManagered*

        At my university, IT actually doesn’t control what name displays in your email–the payroll department does. OP find out what the process is to change your name (like if you got married or divorced). It’s possible that that determines your email display name.

        1. Psyche*

          I was wondering if the change in system did something like this and they actually can’t change the displayed name and are arguing because they don’t want to admit that they can’t do it.

        2. TootsNYC*

          yes, at my company, your email name is linked to your PeopleSoft account, and it gets created during onboarding, and it’s a massive PITA to change it, so they won’t. Once you get history in the PeopleSoft records, it gets cemented.

          However, they do create redirect email addresses for when people get married, or people discover that someone goes by their middle name.

          But the core email address never changes. I email Catherine Johnson often; every time I type in “Johnson,” the email that pops up is “Hopkins,” her maiden name.

      3. JSPA*

        Agreed. And if that doesn’t work, provided you’re in the USA, it’s not even that hard or expensive to change your legal name (though it takes some time and it can be irksome to update all your documents–voter registration, driver’s license, social security, passport etc). If you hate your given name that much, though, it might be worth changing it before you end up in a situation where you can’t advocate for yourself effectively.

    2. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Every system needs a way to allow for variation.
      I immediately thought of a Dilbert strip where someone was asking to have a variant email address. Pointy-haired boss insisted she stay with the standard first initial, last name. Last panel he sighs “That Brenda Utts is such a troublemaker. “

      1. Rob aka Mediancat*

        I process insurance claims, and some of the providers have apparently ironclad methods of coming up with account numbers — some are random, but more than one uses part of the patient’s name to form it. Well, this one company used first three letters of last name, first three letters of first name, random number string, without fail. Even for [not real example, but similar to the one I saw] KITty FUChs.

        1. NotTheSameAaron*

          I had an ancestor whose last name was Fuchs. When he moved to Canada, he changed it to Fox.

    3. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      out of sheer and utter curiosity, why does this one person’s display name need to be replaced every night?

    4. beepboopin*

      I work in academia as well and they instituted a “preferred name” system a few years back, I assume to be inclusive to transgender students. However, I have always gone by my nickname (a common diminutive of my full name) and my maiden name so this has been extremely helpful in simplifying that (think legal name is Katherine Smith Jones but I go by Kat Smith at work). OP 2: How does your university handle those who go by preferred nicknames? Its such a common occurrence that I have a hard time believing they insist that every Chris in the University must go by Christopher.


        I’ve worked for a similar university, the Preferred Name capability was added in an upgrade of their enterprise human resource software system and the administration had quite a publicity effort in place to highlight it. Other software systems were keyed to pick up the preferred name fields from the enterprise package, so it was a pretty slick technical fix.

    1. Long Time Fed*

      This is standard at my federal agency. Your legal name is on your PIV and matches your IT accounts. No nicknames or preferred names allowed.

  5. Not A Manager*

    I’m gobsmacked. IT has never met anyone, ever, who was named Elizabeth but goes by Betsy? Edward but is called Ned?

    What about Christopher Ashton Kutcher, or William Bradley Pitt? How about “Jack” Kennedy or “Jimmy” Carter? John Calvin Coolidge? George Orson Wells?


    1. Spencer Hastings*

      To be fair, all the Neds and Betsys I’ve known have been “Edward” and “Elizabeth” per their official work emails.

        1. RUKiddingMe*

          My son had a name like *”Alexander”… IT told him it was too long (**what even?) so he said fine and for them to just use “Alex” because he went by that anyway.

          No it had to be his legal name. Son said “ok then,” IT said, “it’s too long.” Not sure what they expected.

          *Not his real name.
          **No one ever figured out what they meant by “too long.”

          1. Mickey Q*

            I worked on a project where the last name was limited to 8 characters. We had to redo the entire project when poor Mr. Takeshita had the A dropped from the end of his name.

            1. Turquoisecow*

              At my current job there was an issue because they’d put the user name in with a limit of a certain number of characters and the username was always FirstInitial Last Name. My (married) last name pushed me over the character limit. Previously, such names had been truncated, but for some reason the person doing it when I joined didn’t truncate.

              It took them a few hours to just remove the limit and we all wondered why it had been there in the past, as it wasn’t necessary. My maiden name is significantly shorter, so if I hadn’t changed it they wouldn’t have had the issue.

            2. MsChanandlerBong*

              I just laughed so hard I scared the bejeezus out of my sleeping cat. Now that is FUNNY.

          2. MarsJenkar*

            “Look, I’m not changing my legal name just for this. Either go with my legal name ‘Alexander’, or the shortened form ‘Alex’. Pick one.”

          3. Observer*

            I’d be tempted to ask them if they were REALLY planning to fire me because my name is too long.

            1. Jenny Next*

              Many years ago, I read a novel with exactly that premise: “The Man Whose Name Wouldn’t Fit: Or, The Case of Cartwright-Chickering”, written in 1968.

              The Amazon description is “Arthur Duane Cartwright-Chickering, is fired from his job because the new computer that processes employee files cannot handle his long name.”

          4. Michaela Westen*

            They didn’t have my Computers 101 professor. I still remember his lecture about field name length and that it should be long enough to accommodate names in the user groups ethnicity. So fields for a Korean organization would be shorter than for a Greek organization.
            I argued with this – what if with growth people with longer names joined the Korean organization? He didn’t agree.

            1. Observer*

              What an idiot. Even if you can’t wrap your head around diversity, it’s extremely rare that EVERY SINGLE name in that ethnicity is is going to fall in the “normal” length.

              The only excuse I can see for him is if he spent his professionally formative years in the REALLY early days of computing where each space was precious.

    2. Arctic*

      I think that would go against OP with IT since those people almost always use their birth name.

      I am an Elizabeth who has never been called Elizabeth (not even when parents yelled at me!) And use Elizabeth on work email.

      I am totally with OP. IT is being ridiculous. But I don’t think pointing out nicknames will help.

    3. Christmas Carol*

      or little Alexandrina Victoria, who dropped her first name upon becoming Queen of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, Empress of India

      1. Artemesia*

        Monarchs in England always choose a ruling name when they take the throne. George the VI was after all Bertie (Albert) and the last Edward was David. Elizabeth kept Elizabeth but she could have decided to be Victoria or Anne or whatever when she took the throne.

        1. Arctic*

          And she partly kept it because Elizabeth because it was already a traditional Queen-Regnant name.
          (Victoria was actually encouraged to choose Elizabeth as her name. But didn’t as an act of defiance against her mother’s household.)

      2. Evan Þ.*

        Nitpick: She dropped it long before she became Empress of India (she only adopted that title in 1876, thirty-nine years after she became Queen of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland.

        And yes, official documents from the first day of her reign did call her “Alexandrina Victoria,” but she insisted on using her middle name, and everyone acquiesced. The conflict is not a new thing!

      1. alacrity*

        Or Edwin, Edward, Edmund, or Edgar. Basically any “Ed” name…and Benedict, probably because it actually contains “Ned” in it.

    4. NotAnotherManager!*

      I worked at a place that, until about three years ago, could only display one’s full first name in company IT systems. It wasn’t an IT limitation – creating a “preferred name” field in lieu of the legal first name to be displayed is just one additional field in the database – but HR refused to allow it. I had an employee who went by name made up from nicknames of her first and middle names (like Emily Elizabeth called Embeth), and people searching for Embeth in the directory would not be able to find her. (And, the real problem was that, if you were important enough or you were willing to bribe an IT systems administrator with baked goods, magically, some people’s names reflected a preferred name. So, it wasn’t consistent.)

      Now, saner heads have prevailed, and your preferred name is documented from the day you walk in the door and set up that way in the user directory and on your email. There are still situations where Robert who goes by Bob Smith might have a user ID of rsmith, but everything else will say Bob, and his email will be aliased to

    5. Antennapedia*

      I was a grad student at a large university that creates emails by smooshing some combination of first and last name letters together and they are BUTTTTS about asking to have it changed. The only time I’ve seen an exception is when a prestigious faculty member was hired on and he put his foot down and refused to have his email be “”

      He was like “no, I’m sorry, I’m not asking publishers to send emails to Ma Winkle. You’re going to change it.” It was a huge deal at the time and I still find it utterly infuriating that IT was so inflexible.

      1. NotAnotherManager!*

        A friend in college’s computer-generated email address was The campus help desk thought she was a prank caller when she called to ask to have it changed. We did not get email aliasing until two years into undergrad. (Mine got hit by the character limitation and truncated my last name in a hilarious but not quite as insulting manner.)

  6. The Man, Becky Lynch*

    Caterers only ask for head count for a reason, if males indeed needed more allotment the caterers would be asking for that extra information. Jane is being so extra.

    Unless the men attending are coming straight from the fields after 16hrs behind a plow, they’re gonna be fine.

    It’s also going to shake out since there’s people (of all genders) with small appetites, picky eaters, pre gamers who want to graze only, dietary restricted and so on that leave room for the hungrier folks to get their fill in the end.

    We always order a reasonable amount and have plenty of leftovers and I work with all men. Who have physical jobs and they’re still not needing extra portions.

    1. pleaset*

      I’m certain that if the event was almost exclusively one gender or another, and was large, we’d notice differences in the total amount of food consumed.

      The differences are not big enough to matter in small events where individual variations have more play. But if the event was large and very skewed toward one gender – say 2,000 men and 100 women or vice versa, we’d notice. Men are bigger and on average consume more.

      1. Rusty Shackelford*

        I attended a Secretaries Day lunch (because yes, that’s what it was called, it was that long ago) where the menu was a scoop of tuna salad in half a cantaloupe. And a brownie. No one would have planned that menu if they thought men might be eating it. (I’m not saying it was woman-friendly, because it was not, just that it was very obviously gendered.)

        1. MechanicalPencil*

          Words cannot describe the amount of lip curl that just happened. I hate tuna salad unless I make it. I despise melons in all forms. The only saving grace is that brownie.

          1. Nyltiak*

            Agreed. Cantaloupe is the Devil’s Melon, commercially made tuna salad is gross about 90% of the time, and the thought of the two flavors together, even if i liked cantaloupe and they had good tuna salad, is disgusting. I bet they did something horrible like put walnuts in the brownies too.

            1. Jamie*

              I would eat lunch with you anytime.

              And I fully support capital punishment for those who ruin perfectly good brownies with walnuts.

            2. Rusty Shackelford*

              I don’t remember the brownie. I do remember a lot of us picked at the tuna, thinking “this is the first course, there will be some chicken or something coming.” There was not.

              (I like tuna salad, as long as it doesn’t have raw onions. I like cantaloupe. I do not want them to be combined.)

            3. Robin*

              I’m also one who likes tuna & likes cantaloupe, but together????
              Nuts ruin a perfectly good brownie in my book too.

        2. Gaia*

          I didn’t think you could make tuna worse than in the form of tuna salad but I stand corrected. Tuna salad IN a cantaloupe? Why? Why combine two of the worst foods ever known to man?

        3. AKchic*

          All of that sounds absolutely terrible. I would have started a riot. What a way to show your staff that they aren’t appreciated.

          1. Observer*

            That’s a really smart take. That explains how this wound up happening. I LIKE cantaloupe, but this is just gross.

        4. Curmudgeon in California*

          Oh, yuck. Tuna salad with no mayo on a bed of iceberg lettuce and some other small veggies around the side (think cherry tomatoes, carrots, broccoli, etc) might be palatable as a summer luncheon, but in cantaloupe? Yuck.

        5. Amethystmoon*

          Ew. Even as someone who diets regularly, that just strikes me as ew on so many levels. I would consider eating tuna, and maybe even cantaloupe, but separately! And people need some balance in their meals.

      2. The Man, Becky Lynch*

        I’ve always worked as the only woman in most jobs and the guys consume only marginally more. And there’s always ones who eat less for their various reasons. Age is often a huge factor.

        The thing isn’t always portions. It’s “hearty” options verses low caloric options.

        I come from a family of laborers and actual lumberjacks. They only eat more when their bodies required it due to their work. When they got into their 30s and 40s and eventual retirements they eat like birds.

        It’s about environment as well. Most men don’t stuff their face on a lunch spread provided at work. Unlike if they’re eating at home or with friends.

        Also timing. Lunch is usually lighter since going back to work stuffed is an awful feeling for a lot of people. I know guys who don’t eat much at all throughout their day for that reason.

        It’s very little to do with men eating that much more than women in the end. Women are just conditioned to think this way to keep us in line and under the thinking of “eat less. Stay slim. Lady’s only graze.”

        1. Jamie*

          Women are just conditioned to think this way to keep us in line and under the thinking of “eat less. Stay slim. Lady’s only graze.”

          This is exactly it. It’s why many of us are conditioned to opt for a small salad on dates and then eat a can of spaghettios when we get home because we’re starving. It’s somehow not ladylike to need to consume food, good thing we are also often raised to pretend we don’t have digestive systems, either.

          I’m really picky so I never eat at work functions, so the big strong men can all split my share.

        2. AKchic*

          All of this.
          I’ve worked a variety of jobs, many of them as administrative positions in labor-intensive, male-dominated industries.

          Unless they are really young, men don’t act like ravenous beasts and fall on food like a plague of locusts (I will say that teenagers in general tend to be different – all teen and pre-teens tend to inhale food). Everyone tends to have their better (for the lack of better term) Party Manners when at a work function. Sure, generally speaking, guys are more likely to fill their plates, and go back for a second helping; but they are more reserved than at home. Women are too.
          At home – I would definitely fight you for the last slice of pizza. At work? I’d offer it up to see if anyone would like it. Social Contracts and all that, y’know.

    2. wittyrepartee*

      Yes, I too wanted to know if this was a meeting of lumberjacks just back from the forests.

    3. Brett*

      When I worked emergency management, restaurants did routinely ask us for head counts of firefighters separate from the rest of the headcount.
      They didn’t care about the gender of the firefighters.

      In my experience, they were smart to ask this ;)

      1. Nyltiak*

        I went to dinner once with a friend I. Town for a conference and some of her work friends. She was not a firefighter, but her work friends were (emergency planning) and I was amazed at the amount of food ordered and consumed. And then the firefighter from the NFPA bought everyone’s dinner because “with you two here, I’m under limit per person on the company card! That never happens”

      2. Bunny Girl*

        Same with any sports team. My younger brother had some of his baseball team spend the night once after a game and I made about 30 pancakes in the morning and I swear those four had them finished before I even whipped around.

  7. Seal*

    #2 – Your IT department is a pack of inconsiderate fools. There is no reason whatsoever that they can’t change your email address to reflect the name you go by. I go by a nickname; most people have no idea what my given name is. When I started my current job I was assigned an email address that consisted of firstname.lastname. I firmly but politely said I can’t use that email address because no one knows me by that name and asked how I could get it changed. My new supervisor immediately put me in touch with our IT folks, who quickly changed my email to to nickname.lastname, no questions asked. Any pushback whatsoever would have been a dealbreaker for me; I would have quit on the spot if they refused to accommodate my very reasonable request. Everyone should be allowed to go by whatever name they choose at work, no questions asked.

  8. The bad guy*

    #4 needs to run like the wind. If the funding isn’t there for the job now, you’re getting set up to have your heart broken by layoffs in 6 months. Granted there are some exceptions to the “startups are chaos” rule but it sounds like this ain’t it. Unless they’re planning on giving you a contact, let yourself down easy now.

    1. Falling Diphthong*

      “The job you’re interviewing for doesn’t exist… but one day it might! Put some toothpaste on your nose and crawl around under the office building every couple of weeks, and maybe you can catch it!”

      This is a really high level of chaos and they aren’t even near a job offer.

    2. Mockingjay*

      Yeah, I think a very close inspection of their finances is warranted. The job is a wish list. They have a final destination in mind of what the company should look like, but haven’t a clue (i.e., business plan) how to get there.

      Enthusiasm won’t pay your rent.

    3. Sara without an H*

      This is one of the destructive side effects of the “dream job” — you want the mythical position so much that you ignore red flags. The job doesn’t exist now, and may never exist. Time to move on.

      1. Legal Beagle*

        Yes!! This is such a real danger. It’s painful to open your eyes to the red flags and potentially walk away from something you had believed was a dream job, but it will spare you so much pain in the long run. The most generous interpretation is that this company is horrifically disorganized with no understanding of business norms – not a place you want to work!

      2. Willis*

        This! I think the fact that there was another interview even after they told the OP there was no job is an indicator of this. In most cases, the fact that they don’t have a position would be enough of an indicator that this shouldn’t be something to put more time into. I think the “dream job” mentality is giving this company leeway they don’t deserve! Assume that job isn’t going to happen, and if you hear from them down the line, do some real due diligence on them before moving forward.

        1. Teal*

          Yes!!! Why would they waste their own time… Let alone yours…. Interviewing AGAIN when there is no job. Do they have 0 clients and nothing better to do than interview all day? Yikes.

    4. TootsNYC*


      Let your confidence be bolstered because you are obviously a good candidate, and go get a job from someone who can actually pay you.

    5. Dr. Pepper*

      This is what I was thinking too. They don’t have the funds to support the position, which is why they have not hired you. If they don’t have the funds now, they probably won’t for some time to come, yet people like to hedge on the future and if they’re overly optimistic, you could end up laid off very quickly. Which I think is very likely here, especially because they have already pulled a bait-and-switch on you. I mean, you’ve gone through extensive interviews and assessments only to find out that *sike!* there’s no actual job. Do you really think that they’d have qualms about hiring you and then a short time later doing the same thing?

    6. Massmatt*

      I am surprised how much time they are wasting doing interviews for a nonexistent job! Yes, this is inconsiderate of the applicant’s time, but what a waste for them also! If this is a start up they should be frantic trying to get 100 things done per day, not spending hours interviewing someone for a job that doesn’t exist. Why don’t they have actual work to do? Very odd.

      1. Not a cat*

        Eh…this is very startup-ish. One of my They want to get exactly the right ninja-rockstar-hero-insert-stupid-title-here in the role. Or they have to run staff additions by their VC …..

  9. Mike*

    #1: As a big guy I would be so embarrassed if I found out an extra portion was ordered for me because I was a man. Unless you are providing all the food for a day I can assure you I’ll be fine if the lunch is the same as the women’s.

    #3: I work IT and our system generates the names and emails based on the data HR enters. We have HR enter the first name that the person uses. Then I don’t have to be involved at all which is the way it should be.

    1. Myrin*

      #1, right?! I’m a woman but I’m always – even now after my gallbladder surgery! – the person able to eat the most in any given setting. But I’m completely fine with a simple regular serving! It would indeed be pretty embarrassing if someone who knows that I like eating a lot would order more because of my “expected appetite”, as the OP so aptly put it. The gender angle just puts a weird archaic twist to it but the approach is ill-advised even without that, I’d say.

      1. RUKiddingMe*

        The only group that I would think about “expected appetite” is adolescent males.

        This is only *my* perspective from raising one and feeding him and his friends…all the time. In other words, just one data point.

        But “men need more food because manly men?” Just…no.

        1. Environmental Compliance*

          *raises hand* This woman right here could outeat many a male friend in high school, thanks to an overt amount of extracurricular sports.

          Teens are black holes for food. But that’s quite literally the only time I would consider ordering extra food – if the group needing food was mostly teens.

          1. Mainely Professional*

            Once in my early twenties (when I was biking and walking everywhere and constantly on the go and constantly hungry) I was out with some coworkers, one of whom was another early twenties woman, like me. She’d been a serious college athlete just a few years prior. We each ordered appetizers and a beer, and when mine came it was significantly larger than everyone else’s. Socialized as I was at that age I said “Oh gosh, I don’t know if I can eat all that.” My friend leaned over and looked me straight in the eye with a wry grin, and said, “Give it your best shot.” I laughed so hard. But I got the message, and never again have I said anything approaching false modesty over my appetite.

            1. Gaia*

              Good for your friend! There is no shame in eating an appropriate amount of food for you in that moment. Some days I eat like a bird because I’m just not expending much energy. Some days I eat like a rhino because I literally just cannot get full. It is what it is. I hate that we are taught that eating is somehow shameful or not feminine.

            2. Burned Out Supervisor*

              “Youth is wasted on the young” How I would kill now for the metabolism and energy I had in my twenties. Enjoy your food and however much of it you want to eat! is what I say.

          2. blackcat*

            When I taught high school and ordered food for extra curriculars, my standard order was 2 large pizzas for every 5 students. There was always one or two who would knock back an entire large pizza, and one or two who would eat one slice. This was somewhat gendered, but more along athlete vs non athlete lines. My childhood BFF was a serious swimmer, and she would EAT during swim season.

          3. wittyrepartee*

            I don’t know about out-eating male friends (as I had none in high school), but I ate a LOT when I was a teen. Enough that parents commented. Enough that my friends and I hung out mostly in the houses with the most abundant snacks.

        2. Rusty Shackelford*

          Yeah, my mother-in-law still doesn’t understand that adolescent males eat more than 80 year olds…

          1. Stabbity Tuesday*

            My grandmother raised 2 boys and fed all their friends, but was surprised when I wasn’t filled up by a slider sized burger and 12 fries as a 13ish y/o girl. I’m just now wondering if there was a gender element to that, or if they were just old and forgot how much teenagers eat.

            1. Rusty Shackelford*

              In my MIL’s case, I think it’s an age thing, not a gender thing, because she forgets that *most* people wouldn’t be satisfied with, say, half a pork chop and a small scoop of rice. But it’s especially astonishing because of the whole teenage boy legend.

          2. Artemesia*

            My mother told me that when she was brought home to meet her FIL who lived with his elderly mother (he was widowed) they were served a tiny hamburger patty, half a steamed carrot and half a smallish potato for dinner. For two normal 20 somethings they left the table starving and later ‘took a walk’ straight to a local diner where they got another meal before returning to the FIL’s home for the night.

        3. AKchic*

          Ugh. Teens.

          I say this as lovingly as I can… but teens will eat you and the entire neighborhood out of town. I feed enough of them to know. I had three teenage boys in the house and my monthly food bill was over $1000 a month. When friends came over? Oh yeah… it got worse. And L A Z Y. Screw the fruits and veggies and sandwich supplies – they’d go straight for the pre-packaged snacks, the microwaveable meals, the known school and work lunch foods because “it’s easier”. Too lazy to prep a sandwich at night, and too “in a hurry” to make a sandwich in the morning, so they’d grab a hot pocket and run out the door to school (after refusing to get up with three alarms and an increasingly angry me trying to get them out of bed for an hour)… and then come home and eat a good $30 worth of snacks as soon as they walked in the door while there weren’t any adults to stop them.

          It got to the point that I had to stop actually buying snacks for the house and start storing lunch snacks in locked cabinets in the garage to force them to rethink their habits. Even my husband is guilty of it. He figures he looks like a teenager so he can eat like one (his digestive system says otherwise).

          It took a lot of creative thinking to get the teens to actually recognize that they had other options besides just the pre-packaged snack foods, and they needed to get back to a healthier diet. Being hungry (or being bored) wasn’t a free-for-all. Being a teenager and unsupervised didn’t give you free reign over the kitchen cupboards, either. Especially when you could eat the entire week’s worth of lunch foods in a day.

    2. MechanicalPencil*

      #3 — Exactly! I distinctly remember always being asked for “First name” and then “Preferred name” everywhere I’ve worked. So I could say Lucinda and then Lucy or Jehoshaphat and Joe. This is asinine.

    3. TootsNYC*

      We have HR enter the first name that the person uses.

      Except…HR gets legal paperwork, and they use that. And they do it well before the person starts. (I don’t know if they use resumes, but I think not–they ask for proof of right to work (green card, birth cert.) )

      If HR doesn’t ask about preferred names, then the legal name goes in there.
      And once it’s done, they won’t change it because it’s linked to PeopleSoft, at my company.

    4. Observer*

      That’s not a bad system.

      The thing is that whatever system the OP’s place uses, IT is being a bunch of idiots. Either it’s their job to take the request OR they need to tell the OP who to talk to. Telling them that “This cannot be done and no one has EVER asked for this to be done” is utterly unacceptable in either case.

  10. Undine*

    What is my legal name, exactly? The one on my passport? The one on my birth certificate? The one on my social security card? For years, all three of those were different, and all of them were legal. IT has no standing to say if your name is legal or not.

    1. MK*

      The one in your birth certificate, unless you had it changed by some legal process. It’s odd that your passport at least isn’t the same. In any case, apparently the OP goes by a nickname that probably isn’t in any official document.

      1. CloakingDevice*

        only one of my three passports has the name on my birth certificate (abandoned middle name) (and it isn’t the US passport, either), and I never went through any legal process. I don’t use my real first name in real life much. My work email is in my preferred first name, no problem. Its only when my manager has to access the system to put in certain types of leave, or the training department enter me for a training certificate, that we all need to remember I actually have my real name somewhere on the system.

        1. MK*

          Eh, what countries are these? Frankly I find it odd that you can choose the name displayed in your passport particularly; surely that’s a security risk?

          1. Lily Rowan*

            I have always gone by an obvious nickname of what is on my birth certificate. At this point in my life, every other legal document including my passport shows the name I go by. When I got my first passport, I just asked if it was OK to use the name on my school records, driver’s license, etc., and they said yes. My assumption is that there is no risk of fraud — someone looking for Christine would not be fooled by finding Chrissy.

              1. JSPA*

                That (literally) may not fly in the future (and also wasn’t legal when they told you it was OK, so far as I know).

                1. Yikes*

                  Agree with JSPA. This is the type of thing that can seem fine, right up until it isn’t, and then is very difficult and time consuming to resolve. Honestly, I’d start the process of getting everything to reflect your legal name now when there’s no urgent need, because it can take months, and that’s hard if you’re in a rush.

              2. Teal*

                Did your state enact RealID yet? You will literally have to bring your birth cert and 2 other documents with the same name to the DMV to keep your license/state ID valid. I have to do it this year.

                1. JSPA*

                  Yep, just did mine. If my passport had not matched my (original, unlaminated) Soc Sec card and my current driver’s license, I’d have spent weeks hopping through hoops. And we also were hit, very briefly, with the sort of Voter ID law that required everyone show perfectly matching ID, or vote provisionally. Disenfranchised quite a few women whose voter reg. and drivers licences were split between showing their married vs. pre- or post- marriage names (not to mention a wide range of other people, in more idiosyncratic / individual ways)–the law at the time being written such that even if this was someone known, by both names, to all the pollworkers, there was no recourse except going downtown for a court order. (“Not even if it’s your own mother” rules stink, especially in a country where states have so widely varied in how–and whether–they recording births, over the last century.)

            1. vanillacookies*

              This is interesting to me; a friend of mine immigrated to the US as a child, and when she was applying for college discovered that her birth certificate, passport, and SSN card all had slightly different spellings of her name. This became a huge issue for her and she almost lost scholarships over it.

          2. Artemesia*

            in 1972 my new husband and I planned to travel to Europe and my childhood passport had expired. I submitted the old passport and paperwork and they insisted that I could not have a passport in my name since I was married and would have to use my husband’s last name. They were willing to put Myfirst Hislast (AKA Mylast) as if I were a bank robber on the lam but insisted his name was my legal name although it wasn’t and I never ever used it. We didn’t travel outside the country until that policy changed. This was a US passport.

            1. MK*

              I am not surprised by this happening in 1972, but it is odd if you legally had a choice about taking your husband’s last name. In my country, women never had a choice: till 1981, once you married your legal name was your husband’s, no matter what you might call yourself in everyday life; after 1981 (Gender Equality Act) your name didn’t change with marriage and if you wanted to take your husband’s name you had to go through the same process as any other person changing their name.

          3. Gaia*

            So I have a US passport and I was able to “choose” my first name because legally, I don’t have a first name (my birth certificate literally says “baby girl” on the line that should list my first name). Getting a passport was a huge PITA for a lot of reasons but not the least of which was the fact that I had no legal first name. I had to supply documents showing my “alias” had been used in other legal context (social security – but that’s hard because the last name is different, school records, medical records, etc).

            But it can be done. I suppose I could have legally changed my name and had a new bc issued but that seemed like a bigger hassle at the time.

      2. iglwif*

        … except, my birth certificate is the only ID document I have that *doesn’t* have my full legal name on it. My health card, Social Insurance card, both passports, and provincial photo card (driving licence equivalent for non-drivers) all say Firstname Middlename Birthname Marriedname, but my birth certificate says Firstname Middlename Birthname.

        Or are you including “I got married and added my spouse’s surname to mine on all my stuff” in the concept of “having it changed by some legal process”?

        1. MK*

          Yes, I meant “process” as in “change in legal status”, not “court proceeding” (#translation woes)

        2. JSPA*

          Bringing in a marriage document with proof of name change was also included as part of what was required for Real ID, if you’d changed your name–yes–unless you had enough other concordant documents, and in the right form (not expired, social security card not laminated or overly torn, etc).

    2. Tyche*

      Strange! Here in Italy it would be a huge problem if the names in your documents differ from one to the other and from your birth certificate. Once a friend had a lot of difficulties because the name on her driver license was different from her birth certificate, it was a huge hassle and at the end she had to change the driving license because they made an error and they transcribed her name wrong.
      Here women don’t legally acquire their husband’s names, so if you are Lily Evans and you are married to James Potter, you may be known around as Mrs. Potter, but your legal name will always be “Lily Evans”, so every contract, every signature, every check should be “Lily Evans”.

      1. Elizabeth*

        Such a better system.

        I work with historical records in the US and we will never know as much about women as men because we lose track of them in many records when they change their name. It makes me sad.

        1. General von Klinkerhoffen*

          By convention, women in the part of Scotland I know best revert to their maiden name on death, regardless of what their passport might say. It’s very helpful for genealogy!

          So a typical headstone reads

          beloved wife of JOHN CAIRNS

          Side note: they often give dates as “born 1930, born to eternal life 2015” which I find beautiful.

      2. iglwif*

        The province of Quebec works like that, too.

        Although it’s also the case that Quebec has the lowest rate of legal marriage (vs. common-law marriage) in Canada, AND that hyphenated surnames are super common (you can give your new baby either parent’s surname or a hyphenated surname) … as are hyphenated first names, because French XD

        So you get a lot of, like, Jean-Michel Deslauriers-Tremblay and Marie-France Saint-Martin-Legendre[I made those up but I bet there are real people called that] and I have no idea how those couples figure out what surnames to give their kids!

      3. Quoth the Raven*

        Pretty much the same in Mexico. Everything has to match the official voting/ID card you get when you turn 18 (and you generally need that one when issued other IDs, like passports), or your birth certificate when you’re under 18. A name being spelled differently, either by choice or by mistake, can render paperwork invalid.

        The first thing I always check in any paperwork is that my second last name, which is German, is spelled correctly and not by the more commonly known English spelling — otherwise it legally is not me.

      4. Teal*

        The USA was lax on it for many decades and now it is a huge problem for anyone who got the “nice” desk clerk who let them mess up their documents.

        RealID is being enacted everywhere and everyone must bring in a matching birth certificate to renew their drivers license/state ID. So all the people saying it’s no problem are actually about to run into a huge problem when their state rolls out realID.

      5. JSPA*

        The US is allergic to requiring people to register their identity with the federal government–it’s supposed to be entirely voluntary. And we’re also much laxer with name changes, so long as the goal of the name change isn’t nefarious. In addition, as a nation (largely) of immigrants, we’re used to changes that happen between one language and another, whether it’s from one script to another, or Timofey becoming Timothy, or someone docking the “-insky” or “-amanian” when faced with a long name and a short box to write it into.

        Last I checked, the name-change process (unless it’s part of witness protection or something along those lines) was similar to “doing business as” requirements: you have to publish actual old name and proposed new name in one or two publications, and wait some period of time to give people a chance to raise objections.

        Considering that people can change all sorts of other features with plastic surgery, it seems strange that a name would be the one thing about yourself that you’re not allowed to change.

        Are you sure that the “no name change on marriage” is historically long-standing? Granted, in most countries, women didn’t even have the right to sign contracts in their own name, if married, until one, two or three, or at most four generations ago, so “ability to sign at all” and “which name to use” may have settled out differently, in different countries.

    3. Helvetica*

      I apologize if this is off-topic but is it very common in the US to have official documents with different variations of your name? Like, if you’re Katherine on your birth certificate but go by Kate on your driver’s license and Kathy in your passport, and so on.

      I only ask because in my (European) country, any and all official documents have to bear your full legal name, and you can’t decide what it will be. Even if you always want to be known as Kate, there is no possibility for you to have that on any document – it’s always Katherine. If you want to be known by another name in your life, that’s your prerogative but you cannot make it stick in official documentation of yourself, unless you legally change your name.

      And even with that, I know in my organisation of people whose e-mail address is their “preferred” name, not their full legal name, so it is doable even in circumstances where it is less than common.

      1. greenthumb*

        According to the US Passport Agency (national agency), our middle name or names don’t need to match or be consistent. But the first name (given name) and surname (family name) must match or you end up with a lot of problems. Social Security doesn’t seem to have a strong opinion, but you burn up one of your limited quantity of changes that result in a replacement card if you fiddle around with middle and/or maiden names.

        So if you are Arabella CutiePie Smith on your birth certificate, and marry someone with the surname Jones and take that as your surname, you can be plain Arabella Jones on your drivers license, and any combination of Arabella { + middle + maiden } Jones on national documents without a hassle. Nowadays, what seems strictest is the airlines/TSA. If you’re in a carrier’s database with one ID with more middle names than the other, and try to get to your gate with the briefer ID … You. WILL. Have. Problems.

        I have a middle name I dislike for personal reasons. Got tired of seeing it on my passport and Social Security card, so I removed it from SS, and then from passport at my latest renewal. No problems with either procedure.

        However, the removal of that name seems to have put my Global Entry renewal into limbo…. 95 days and counting.

        1. RUKiddingMe*

          “However, the removal of that name seems to have put my Global Entry renewal into limbo…. 95 days and counting.”

          Thats the kind of thing that keeps me from screwing with stuff. Anything that can result in more aggravation for me, if I can just ignore it (e.g. my passport photo), is a nope.

          I just consider it a necessary evil for general purposes…

        2. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

          Legal name changes don’t count against card replacement limits, the limits are for “I need a replacement with no changes because I don’t have my card anymore.” (I’ve been through the legal name change process six times, I checked.)

          1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

            Derp, you’re talking about reordering the card without middle names showing, not actually dropping them legally. Sorry, never mind me!

        3. Seeking Second Childhood*

          It may be a process issue. In the US, we need to jump through the hoops to change the name when married/divorced/widowed. Just replacing documents with the _same_ name is a Catch-22 when two or more of your documents have been destroyed. (In regional disasters like hurricane flooding, officials are set up to help, but we’re out of luck if it’s just one house.)

          1. Adric*

            Helpful hint: Apparently, an expired driver’s licence can be used to kick start the ID recovery process. Obviously, assuming you have one available.

            I’ve never personally needed to try this, but I have been keeping track of my old DLs for a while now.

        4. TootsNYC*

          wait–there’s a limit on how many times you can get change your name in the SSA database and get a new card?

          1. greenthumb*

            Yes, 10 total cards. Which is why I’ve hopefully put card version #6 in our safe deposit box. (Younger self was sloppy with records. Also: Burned up 3 “lives” on a convoluted process of getting hated name off my name, then putting it back on so I could get a certified BC, then taking it off again. But totally worth it, had no idea of the family angst tied to that name until I did some genealogical research and stumbled onto court proceedings.)

            1. greenthumb*

              Clarification. You receive up to 10 cards total. For whatever reason. Not sure what happens to people who’ve consumed all their requests.

          2. AKchic*

            Yes. And it sucks for those of us who have stalkers, multiple name changes, etc. I’d gone through 7 of them in 5 years before they made that rule. Two of my kids had needed 3-4 replacements each for the same reason. One child never received his SSN card so when I went to apply for a replacement I was lectured about “keeping it safe” because this REPLACEMENT counted toward his lifetime number. He was 18 months old and never received the first card.
            Luckily, I’m generally organized and haven’t had to get replacements since then. Now they are starting to need their cards and I’m sitting here in a panic like “don’t you dare lose this. Bring it right back and put it in the fire safe when you’re done” like I’m some control freak.

      2. RUKiddingMe*

        IME most documents, particularly driver license, social security card, and passport should all show “full legal name.”

        Since a lot of people change their surname upon marriage or divorce it’s a good idea to keep those original documents so that you can show when/how your surname changed.

        1. Environmental Compliance*

          ^ I actually wouldn’t have been able to get my driver’s license when I moved states without my birth cert AND marriage license, because my SS card showed my married name, but my birth cert showed (of course) my birth name, and the office would not have accepted this paperwork without the document that showed that I changed my name. (My passport at that time had expired, and was under my maiden name anyway.)

          I keep a packet now in a safebox of all the documents I need to renew anything, because it just makes it a heck of a lot easier.

          1. TootsNYC*

            this is one of the ways that requiring an ID to vote (after you have already registered) can hurt women.

            1. MK*

              Eh, I think it’s more about the fact that apparently in the US requiring ID to vote is a new measure intented to stop people from voting than the practise in itself. In my country, it has always been necessary to produce ID to vote (you don’t have to register, you are automatically added to the voting registry once you turn 18). If for some reason the name in the registry doesn’t fit the one on your ID, you can get a certificate from the municipal office stating e.g. that Mary Green is the same person as Mary Green-Smith; said municipal office is working all-day for a couple of weeks before the election and on the actual election day to provide these certificates instantly. And there are ads on television constantly reminding people to check their voting details (where to go, which name you are registered under, what ID is acceptable) online. But the authorities actually do want as many people as possible to vote.

              1. JSPA*

                That’s fine, if a country also gives people ID, and requires it more generally. In the US, photo ID is something you pay for (not a right) and–despite what many believe–it’s something that many people (including many whose families have been citizens for generations) can’t get, and manage to live without.

        2. NoviceManagerGuy*

          Pennsylvania doesn’t have enough spaces in the driver’s license form for my full legal name. I text my parents while waiting for the manager at the DMV.

            1. NoviceManagerGuy*

              I don’t text my parents *rudely* while at the DMV, more as something we can laugh about.

              1. General von Klinkerhoffen*

                Oh I would have texted that as a joke – “nnnnghh I’m at the DMV and just guess what the hold up is?! This is all your fault lol”

                1. TootsNYC*

                  I blame my parents for lots of things like that. Wide feet, long name, confusing middle name thing…

                  I figure, that’s part of what they’re for.

      3. DaisyGrrl*

        In Canada, Quebec has a rather unique history that makes names on official documents a bit interesting. Until 2001, baptismal certificates were accepted as birth certificates (heavy Catholic influence until the 1960’s). Baptismal certificates had four names. First name was always Marie/Joseph, second was often the name of the godmother/godfather, the third was given name used on a daily basis, fourth was the family name. So Joseph Jacques Jean Chrétien went by Jean Chrétien in his daily life as prime minister of Canada.

        This naming convention is understood by Canadian government entities, and there is absolutely no problem ignoring the full name on the birth certificate (transcribed from baptismal records) and providing identification in the given name a person actually uses. I have, however, encountered a few Quebecois who immigrated and got saddled with their full baptismal name on their official documents abroad.

        I can just imagine an IT administrator in Quebec insisting on assigning everyone Marie/Joseph as their first name and expecting it to work out just fine!

    4. NorthernQueer*

      A note on legal names: In the UK at least, they’re… kinda not a real thing. Over here, a ‘legal name’ is just a name that you go by. If you need to get official documentation, or ‘prove’ that this is your name for reasons, you can just fill out a deed poll, which is a) free and b) does not need to be notarised – it just states that you intend to (permanently) renounce use of your former name and use any given new name from now on, signed by two witnesses who have known you for a little while.

      In the states, I’m less sure, but this page (sorry for wiki link!) –
      suggests that you can do similar things across most of the USA – submit paperwork, and then that is your name unless you’re intending to deceive people.

      Institutions don’t always get this, which can be a cause of frustration, but that doesn’t make it any less legal or valid.

      1. Countess Boochie Flagrante*

        Legal names are definitely a thing in the US.

        When it comes to name changes, it isn’t “just fill out paperwork,” especially if you’re doing it for a reason other than marriage. You have to file it with your local court system, probably have to publish it — for me, it was in a local paper dedicated to legal filings like this — and then once the judge grants your name change, you have to do a tremendous amount of legwork to update your legal name with various government agencies.

        1. Turquoisecow*

          Even with marriage, there’s a bunch of legwork involving going to the social security office, the DMV, and then banks and whatnot, because your driver’s license has to match your credit/debit cards, and that’s not even getting into the weeds of things like bills and work names.

          Been married almost three years now and I still have issues because I started seeing a new doctor under my married name and then went to get bloodwork and the new doctor couldn’t find it because the lab sent it over with my maiden name because I’d been there before. And I only recently got the pharmacy to accept my married name, before that, all my prescriptions were sent from my doctor (who knew about the name change and updated his paperwork) with my married name but when I went to pick it up the pharmacy had it under my maiden name. Sigh.

          I think I have it all figured out but then o find something else that was missed. The one plus to being unemployed at the time of marriage was that there was nothing to change at work. My current boss knew me before the marriage but thankfully got everything set up at the new company properly with my new name, so at least there’s no confusion there.

    5. New Girl*

      My name was spelled wrong on my birth certificate when I was born. My mom sent it back to be corrected thinking they would fix it up nice. All the day was cross it out and handwrite my name correct above the misspelling. Surprisingly I’ve never had any issues with getting government documents with my name on them!

      1. Becky*

        Wow, wish it were that easy everywhere! My sister’s name was misspelled on her birth certificate so my parents had to file paperwork for an amended birth certificate. Fast forward 30 years when my sister was applying for her first Passport, the Passport office couldn’t accept an amended birth certificate as proof of citizenship, the state that issued it automatically destroyed the original after the amended certificate was issued, didn’t retain records of the change. She had to send them all sorts of records showing she had been int he country her whole life (think childhood medical records, elementary school report cards, etc) and an affidavit from my mother that she had in fact given birth to my sister. This despite having been issued an SSN at birth.

      2. Drewski*

        I lost a day of my life in the SS office correcting my daughters name. I misspelled it on the form in the hospital (I was tired, ok!) and when it came in the mail I looked at my wife in horror realizing what I had done.

        It was not easy, because that was the first document we received. Then the birth certificate showed up, naturally, misspelled as well.

        Take a day off work, read most of a book, waiting around in that SS office.

    6. TootsNYC*

      For years, all three of those were different, and all of them were legal.
      Would you be able to vote, if they required an ID that matched your voter registration name?

      1. MK*

        Imagine going to the election official, producing three passports and asking under which name they had you registered.

  11. Fatima*

    OP2 – I’m guessing your name is something like Immaculata or Innocencia. There are several of these among my extended family. Having people think of you—a grown, professional adult woman—by the words ‘immaculate’ or ‘innocent’ isn’t ideal, especially in a leadership role. It’s a rare woman who can carry such a name yo her best advantage (my aunt, for one, does—though she’s director of a religious organization.) I feel your pain!!

        1. valentine*

          Having people think of you—a grown, professional adult woman—by the words ‘immaculate’ or ‘innocent’ isn’t ideal, especially in a leadership role.
          Hopefully, OP doesn’t work with a lot of people who have a gross bias against Italian or Spanish names.

            1. Pippa K*

              You might be thinking of Amira. (Fatima is a popular name historically but not for its literal meaning, which is to do with weaning a baby.)

              1. 2 Cents*

                Just thought it was ironic that someone making fun of “immaculata” or “conception” used a screen name as “Fatima.”

                1. Pippa*

                  Huh. Don’t see the irony. Pretty much all names mean something, and I didn’t read Fatima’s comment as mocking.

          1. Observer*

            It’s not about not liking Italian names. Most people don’t know what most names mean, but you don’t have to know Italian or Spanish to know what those two words mean. So, I can see it being a bit of an issue.

            But only a BIT – I was just listening to a podcast about names and their effects and one of the main sources is a professor called Marijuana Pepsi. She’s an educator, researcher and has a PhD. At some point people get past the initial “HUH!” reaction.

      1. Lana Kane*

        Concepción is a normal Spanish-language name and the word isn’t only used as “conception” is used in English.

    1. P.C. Wharton*

      This would make sense, but I’m still interested in learning where OP2 is from. I (East Coast US) can’t imagine ever trying to guess someone’s ethnicity or religion(!) based on their name, unless I knew them very well and the topic came up. Even then, Italian and Catholic names are common enough here that I’d probably just assume and not comment. Maybe they’re not where OP2 lives, but if that’s the case than it’s crazy that they’re getting this comment so often!

      1. Bernadette*

        I have a very Catholic-sounding first name, and I don’t use it partly because I get these comments *all the time*.

        “Oh, you must be French!”
        No, not really.
        “I see, Catholic then.”
        My family hasn’t been religious in years.

      2. diner lobster*

        There’s also a huge difference in how much your name tells about your background in non-US contexts. Really fun as a US-ian to learn just how much a person’s heritage becomes obvious when they have a, say, distinctly South Indian name.

      3. Working Mom Having It All*

        That’s funny, because the only place I’ve ever lived where people did this regularly and didn’t think anything of it was the East Coast of the US.

        I actually had someone come up to me out of the blue and, based only on my combination of first and last names, ask, “Are you Protestant?”

        I got arrested at a demonstration in college, and because my last name sounds kind of Irish (but actually isn’t/my actual ancestry is not Irish), the cop arresting me made the cuffs extra roomy and said things like, “What’s a good Irish girl like you doing mixed up with this crowd?”

        I saw this happen CONSTANTLY to people of much more sensitive backgrounds than my own “garden variety WASPy white girl”, and I also saw it turn ugly a few times when strangers came up to me and, based on the name of the person I was standing next to at a party, say “I hope you’re not dating that [slur redacted].” Based on NAMES. More last than first, but still. Constant.

        I can understand why this is a problem for OP, and I also think the solution is not to bemoan what horrible people would name their kid something “too Italian” or the like.

      1. valentine*

        No; Madonna goes by her name.

        OP despises the name. Why potentially make her look at it here?

    2. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Baby name books can lead to a lot of strange choices.
      And then there’s people whose immigrant parents gave them names that kind of rely on the original language’s pronunciation — one common example being Jesús vs. Jesus. (The Jesús I work with goes by his initials– and our IT department did use that as part of his email address. Even though women who changed their name for marriage/divorce have to live with changed display name with email address still the old name!)

      1. valentine*

        Italian/Spanish names that make people assume Catholicism are common to a large swath of the world. People who may or may not be immigrants are fully aware a lot of y’all are going to anglicize (and butcher!) their children’s names. Mispronouncing Jesús as Jesus doesn’t change what it is. It’s only a big deal if you wanna make something of it, like that one awful, bigoted coworker who refused to call OP by his first name.

        1. Database Developer Dude*

          What awful bigoted co-worker who refused to call OP by his first name? Where was that story?

      2. Database Developer Dude*

        Okay, that’s lame on IT’s part. Women who change their name for marriage/divorce should be allowed to have the actual email address changed. It’s only if someone retains a legal name, but goes by a nickname, should the display name be changed to accommodate them… If they change their legal name, change the damn address already! It’s not that hard.

        NOTE: I’m saying it’s not that hard for an IT person in charge of the email server to do.

      3. Jennifer Thneed*

        A friend had a co-worker named Savior. ??What!!?? I said? Yup, Savior. Yes, Mexican-American. And then I thought about people named “Jesús”. And then I thought about people named “Xavier”, like the professor in the X-Men comics my father had collected. And then my understanding of the world expanded a little bit.

        I was a teenager at the time. C’mon, IT, it’s really not that hard!

  12. Filosofickle*

    #4: Definitely check up on them and don’t get too invested.

    Once I spent FOUR months interviewing. The first 2 months involved 3 rounds with 6 interviewers, and after that they said they wanted to bring me on for a 3 month trial project. (Not that unusual in my industry.) That was followed by 2 months of conversations as they “tried to find” a good project to place me on. There were no new projects, it seemed, which is not a good sign even though they’re a highly respected firm. Then they ghosted me. AFAIK they never hired anyone and my point person quit the company. :/

    1. Leviyah Gray*

      This. I would not wait around for these incompetent fools. And I started with my current company when it was a startup. She’d only had the company a few months when she hired me. The same day. And I had a route (I’m a dogwalker) 20 minutes after the interview ended – we did a sit-down, tjen went to meet some puppies, then she hired me and I started. Granted, my resume pretty much screams amimal care, and she was one of 2 places that offered for me on the same day, so maybe I’m a bit spoiled, but there’s no way I would put up with this kind of foolery. I am an adult with bills to pay. I can’t afford to wait around while the kids running a startup play around. Get it together BEFORE you start trying to hire others.

  13. Kimmybear*

    #2 – I laughed. I work in IT and we recently encountered this problem with a non-email system we are implementing. The developers didn’t think it was a big deal the first few times we mentioned it until we pointed out that 2/3 of the small group of testers went by middle names, nicknames, or Americanized names. Got fixed shortly after that.

    1. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Good for you. It’s particularly hard when the email address naming convention is known to your customers, and the name someone uses is _not_ their email address — we had someone whose emails kept bouncing or going to the wrong person in another division because of that mismatch after her divorce.

  14. Kat A.*

    For #4,

    “A bit inconsiderate”? Come on, Alison. That company was being massively inconsiderate!

    Did the OP use up a lot of time off in order to interview and take tests? How many hours did she devote to trying to get this job before finding out it doesn’t exist? Let’s be sure to include all the time spent researching the company, looking up its principals on LinkedIn, prepping for the interview, getting groomed and dressed for the interviews, drive time, everything.

    OP, No matter how awesome a job description sounds, the job is going to suck if the company is run by inconsiderate, deceitful people.

    1. MK*

      I have to agree, interviewing for a job that doesn’t exist yet is extremely disrespectful to the candidates’ time. Not to mention probably a waste of time for the company too; what’s the benefit of choosing someone to make an offer to months in the future? They might not even be available by the time the job opens.

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        I wonder about the recruiter. Do they maybe only get paid when the job is filled, and the company failed to mention to the recruiter, as well, that this job did not technically exist and so filling it would be impossible?

    2. Thatoneoverthere*

      My guess given this was a start up, is the money wasn’t there to hire her. Someone said, ” We should hire someone be our Tea Pot designer!”. Then they didn’t have the funds and ended up, doing the designing themselves. Either way, its bad business practice.

      I agree with the above, this is more inconsiderate. Unless you are desperate to work for them I would let it go. If asked again to any other interviewing and I would mention all that you have done already.

    3. Dr. Pepper*

      It’s almost like you’re being pranked. “Oh yeah, we totally have this awesome job and you’d be so good at it and we love you and we need to do multiple rounds of interviews and now you’re really invested………….. ha ha just kidding, there isn’t actually a job! Isn’t that hilarious? But you should totally keep checking back with us just in case.”

  15. Chocolate Teapot*

    1. I remember that a previous admin assistant always used to order slightly less food based on the number of attendees for meetings, since there were always leftovers.

    The other thing I thought of, was that Jane is aware of somebody struggling to get enough food, and by ordering more food “for the men”, there will be leftovers for them. (Remember the story about the broke employee who was living off cupcakes?)

    1. P.C. Wharton*

      Oddly enough I thought along the same lines! At least, that some leftovers are good for everybody–especially if someone can’t attend the event, isn’t comfortable eating around everybody, is food insecure at home, or just forgets lunch one day and is starving.
      Still push back on the sexist language. But if it’s within the budget to have a few leftovers, why not?

      1. valentine*

        Jane is aware of somebody struggling to get enough food
        There’s no need to go for the false, gross sexism, though. If that’s your go-to, you’ve bigger fish to fry.

    2. Coffee Cake*

      I was going to say the OP might want to hold off on this they need to determine how much extra has been ordered vs how much you have for leftovers. The goal with these is to have some left overs, if you are completely empty on food then you have people that left hungry. So make sure you have left overs of everything and not of the just some things.

    1. P.C. Wharton*

      That’s very true. At our university, though, the way I’ve seen that play out is that IT still puts your first name in, and people just know to look at someone’s signature for their actual preferred name. IT can definitely change it, but I’ve heard recently that it’s a major pain involving way too much paperwork.

    2. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      My husband is like… the sixth of seven generations to be named Wakeen (different middle name) Lastname and to go by not just the middle name, but a nickname of the middle name.

      (We have no kids, and if I did I would have voted against saddling another generation with Wakeen because the actual name is ugh and none of the Wakeens ever used it anyway, but his brother has a wee Wakeen who goes by a variant of his middle name, so I’m off the hook for multiple reasons.)

      1. Betty*

        Is this a male thing? I’m not American but I’ve only ever heard of it being the umpteenth son with that name, never daughter. Like, no one is EVER Betty Jr or Betty the Third.

        1. Environmental Compliance*

          My middle name is one that has been passed down for a few generations. My dad has the middle name that got passed down for the men through the generations. Goes back to a (multiple greats) grandma & grandpa.

          Not as cool as EC the Fifth, but one of my nicknames is (Grandma) Jr or Little (Grandma).

          1. Quill*

            Lol, I got “Traditional feminine version of Mom’s Dad’s name” for a first name, while my brother got “traditional middle name for every firstborn male in my dad’s family” for a middle name. I kind of wish we’d thought to honor the grandmothers as well.

            (Though on my mom’s side of the family this could be because we had a generation that was 90% girls so we had to avoid repeats. Though when the next generation had boys we ended up with two Andrews, somehow.)

          2. Goldfinch*

            My husband’s mother broke tradition to avoid this, because using grandpa’s name would have created a “mockable” first-middle name combo. She ended up choosing a truly hideous name instead.

            So, instead of Don Atello Goldfinch, he’s Don Englebert Goldfinch. Much better MIL, you’re a GD genius. Nobody will make fun of that. *eyeroll*

            1. Quill*

              The oldest daughter of the oldest daughter in… four generations of my family is always named after her maternal grandfather. Think “Mark’s granddaughter Marcia.”

              My dad has a name you just can’t do that to and have it sound right, everyone jokes about how the tradition stops with me because I can’t in good conscience name a kid “Grantia” when in reality it’s going to stop with me due to my lack of plans to ever have kids.

        2. Rusty Shackelford*

          Yeah, for some reason if you name your daughter after yourself, it’s “weird,” but if you name your son after yourself, it’s “tradition.”

          1. Kiwiii*

            It’s not completely unheard of, though (the reigning Lorelei from Gilmore Girls and all that). Also: I work adjacent to social services and so see a lot of children’s names and I’ve also seen a trend lately of naming a kid after a grandma or great grandma more often (ex. my sister’s first daughter is named Elizabeth after our great grandma.)

            1. Rusty Shackelford*

              No, it’s not unheard of, but it’s definitely not as common as naming a son after his father, or naming a child of either sex after a grandparent.

          2. Elephant in the room*

            I’m female, and the 3rd generation to have the name Jane Smith (not my real name) . Dad’s mom was Jane Smith. Then dad married my mom, Jane, and my mom changed her surname to Smith. Then I was named Jane Smith as well.
            I think the reason that we don’t see multiple generations of women with the same firstname lastname is that women (in the US) usually change their surname upon marriage. I never did change my surname, so if I had kids there might have been a 4th generation.

          3. General von Klinkerhoffen*

            As it’s been traditional in most European countries (and therefore in much of the US) for women to take their husband’s name on marriage, giving your daughter your or your mother’s name isn’t as repetitive as father to son anyway.

            e.g. Karen Smith marries John Brown and has a daughter Karen Brown who marries Edgar Green and has a daughter Karen Green etc


            John Brown has a son John Brown Jr who has a son John Brown III.

            Kinda makes me think it makes more sense to pass names to girls than boys.

            My full name currently is effectively Grandma Great-Grandma Husband. My mother is currently Grandad Great-Grandma Dad. If I had had a daughter she would have been Name Great-Grandma Husband. It would have been good to pass that middle name down even though the five generations of women to bear it would have had five surnames between them.

          4. blackcat*

            I wasn’t named after my mother, but I do have the exact same name as my aunt’s birth name. It was my great grandmother’s married name, so I’m the third person to have the name. The middle name was the great grandmother’s birth last name.
            Naming women for other women in their family is definitely a thing that happens.
            As a side effect, if you google my full name, you basically get a ton of family history relating to my great grandmother (she was the child of someone historically notable and had a notable child). If you google my first and last, I am a ghost because my First Last combo is extremely common in the English speaking world. It’s great grandmother’s maiden name that’s unique (think Elizabeth Smith vs Elizabeth Obernacle Smith).

            1. blackcat*

              Oh, and I have a male cousin who is the equivalent of Edward Obernacle Smith who goes by a nick name of the middle name, like Obie. We are also southern.

            2. Rusty Shackelford*

              Yes, naming women for other women in the family is very common. But you don’t often see a daughter given the exact same name her mother has, the same way you do with sons.

              1. Betty*

                Yes, this is what I was getting at. Naming children to “honour” grandparents or other family members seems pretty common in many places. But if John and Mary Smith have a son and a daughter, it seems MUCH more common for the son to be called John than the daughter to be called Mary. Obviously Mary Jr might change her surname in the future so might not be Mary Smith II forever, but she probably won’t even be called Mary in the first place.

          5. Alienor*

            I’ve known a couple of Mexican-American families where the eldest daughter and mother shared a name, but the daughter usually had a nickname to distinguish her (e.g. I had a friend who was named Marilyn after her mom, but everyone called her Mimi). But it definitely is more of a male thing.

        3. LegallyRed*

          It isn’t as common now, but a few generations back in my family tree, lots of daughters were named after their mothers. I’m also from the South, with loooong family roots there, and can attest that going by your middle name there is definitely A Thing, including for women.

          OP2, I feel for you! I also detested my first name and was known by my middle name. For years this was not a problem; most places, including work, banks, my insurance company, etc. were happy to use my preferred name. However, with security regulations tightening recently, it became much more of a hurdle. This summer, I took the plunge and legally changed my name. I just dropped my birth first name entirely and moved everything to the left. It was such a great feeling to get that court order and know that a name I despised was gone forever! I highly recommend that you look into doing so; it’s usually a relatively easy process (in the US) that can be done pro se (without an attorney).

        4. Mel the Knitter*

          I think it’s more of a male thing because it’s very common (and historically pretty much a guarantee) that females changed their name when they married. So even if they were named after their mother (and many were) it wasn’t such an obvious, enduring legacy as being Firstname MiddleName LastName V

        5. Nobby Nobbs*

          My mother and grandmother have the same first name, but it’s not noticeable because they use different nicknames. Think “Liz” and “Beth.”

        6. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

          I think it’s more common with men, at least. The heterosexist assumption is that women’s names are going to change anyway, because of course all women are going to -a- marry -b- men and -c- change their surnames while they’re at it, so of course there wouldn’t be a Jane Philomena Warbleworth the 5th because she’ll eventually be Jane Philomena Pepperpot instead. :P

          (I only still have 1.5 of the 3 names I was assigned at birth, and the one I fully ditched was in fact drawn from a relative which is why I ditched it, so whatever :P )

          Also, I believe in order to properly be a Jr or Third or whatnot, the full name has to match – husband’s not a Sixth, because all the Wakeens have had different middle names.

        7. Lynn*

          I have heard/seen it more often with men, but my first name is the same as my mom’s (and she was given a feminized version of my grandpa’s nickname). If I had ever had kids, I would likely have continued that tradition and used that same first name and a middle name with the same initial.

          So, she is Firstname Leanne and I am Firstname (which I never use) Lynn. I would have named my theoretical girl-kid Firstname Lee or something along those lines.

        8. The Man, Becky Lynch*

          Mostly a male thing.

          My mom changed it up by slightly changing my brothers middle name. Say the family name is Wesley, she made it Weston. So that it’s still a version of “Wes” which is what her dad and his dad and his dads dad went by.

          But I got my dad’s middle name despite being a girl. Instead of a million different options because they didn’t care much and it was easy lol

          1. Quill*

            Our family middle name is pretty reliable for boys – so much so that as a kid I assumed it was my uncle’s middle name too, even though he’s the only one who didn’t get it.

            Since he hates his real middle name (also taken from a relative) he was pretty tickled.

        9. Drew*

          I knew a Betty Jr. when I was a teenager. Her dad reeeeeeeally wanted a Daddy Jr. but had only daughters, so he improvised.

        10. Not One of the Bronte Sisters*

          It’s a male thing. When daughters are named after an ancestor or a parent, there’s no junior or second or third. Only if you’re a queen. Then you get to be Elizabeth II.

          1. P.C. Wharton*

            This is true in modern times, but in many places and times there has been a tradition of girls named after moms. One common pattern in the southern US, which came from England, is that the 1st boy is named after the father, and 2nd daughter named after the mom. Also, many Southern families use the mother’s maiden surname as a child’s first name, and/or mom’s first name as child’s middle name.

    3. Hope*

      Yep, both my husband and my brother go by their middle names. And while I don’t go by my middle name, I was given it because it was the same as both of my grandmothers’ middle names. We do a lot of handing down middle names to girls in my family.

    4. Artemesia*

      All my SILs are named Mary in a big Catholic family and so all but the eldest goes by a middle name.

  16. Villanelle*

    1 – I am new to ordering catering. I asked my manager how much do I order and she said that number of attendees (incl staff) + 5% is a good rule of thumb.

  17. Sophia*

    1- If there’s always extra food this is super silly. Plus it’s just odd that she keeps bringing it up past the first time.

    That being said, I have years of experience hosting various events and ordering food for groups 5-500 and have definitely noticed that women, in general, do eat less food. There isn’t enough of a difference for me to change my ordering unless the group is fully made of women in which case I do tend to order a tad less (especially if we’re talking donuts, cookies, or sandwiches.) Women or wayyy more likely to split a donut or cookie multiple ways. And if sandwiches are pre-cut in half and on a platter (not boxed lunch), women are more likely to take 1-2 where men are more likely to take 2-3. These are generalizations based on lots of observation so I don’t apply them to small groups where individual differences play a larger role.

    1. Kirsten*

      Yeah, I used to plan conferences as part of my role, for a profession that is 85-90% women. I’ve had hotel event coordinators tell me that we can plan on ordering less food for buffets than more male dominated professions would, but for a smaller event with relatively balanced ratios I’m not sure it makes a difference.

      1. pleaset*

        It’s a numbers issues. We can’t accurately predict what any particular individual will eat – there’s so much variation between people. Just like we can’t predict hat size.

        But if we have 1,000 people, we can predict it far more accurately. We can predict the distribution of hat sizes more accurately, or food eaten, etc. So in small events I would not take gender into account. In a very large event, I would.

        1. valentine*

          If there’s always extra food this is super silly. Plus it’s just odd that she keeps bringing it up past the first time.
          If there’s always extra food, she assumes OP1 is doing her bidding, so she’s reminding OP1 so the poor menfolk don’t positively starve.

      2. sheworkshardforthemoney*

        We planned our meals based on the guests’ agendas. If we had a group that was spending the day outside doing physical work then they got a heartier lunch then the seniors who came on a bus tour the next week to look at the leaves.

      3. Falling Diphthong*

        Yes, while I get that the coworker’s phrasing is irritating–and the numbers here are probably not enough to justify changes in food ordering unless the hungry men are teenagers–this can be a real and practical difference in food ordering. (At fourth of July, the private party I attended ran out of the main course before everyone was served, and it was because the young men in the buffet line all gave themselves a big pile of ribs.)

        1. I'm A Little Teapot*

          I tend to think those young men who took huge amounts of ribs needed to show some consideration to everyone else. It’s rude to go to a party and fill your plate with 90% one item and ignore all the other options.

          1. sheworkshardforthemoney*

            A friend who does catering always serves the roast beef herself because the first people in line see the big side of beef and load up their plates not realizing that it has to feed everyone. Or worse, they know and that’s why they’re first to make sure they get an extra large plate full.

        2. Elspeth Mcgillicuddy*

          Rule of potlucks: Parents with small children go first, then standard adults, then teenagers. That way everybody else gets first dibs, and the teenagers can feel free to load up guiltlessly.

          1. Old Biddy*

            And no one goes for seconds until everyone’s gotten through the line. I remember going to potlucks as a kid and having adults cut in line in front of me to grab seconds of something good.

        3. Sophia*

          Agreed it’s totally rude when people take way more food than is “normal” but a good event planner anticipates stuff like that. As someone who does a lot of ordering, it’s a huge pet peeve of mine when an event runs out of food. And yes I definitely plan for more food with teenagers and especially teenage boys. :D

    2. I heart Paul Buchman*

      This is my experience as well. When ordering for front of house staff (predominantly women) the order is less than for back of house (mostly men). Admittedly there are class differences as well as that is white collar vs blue collar. The men seem happier to publicly dig in to free food than the women. This is obviously a huge generalization that doesn’t predict individual’s habits but over a larger group is more reliable.

      Frankly, I can’t see why this is ridiculous. Even in my house I consistently eat less than my husband and grown sons. They outweight me in body size and muscle mass and I would expect them to eat more calories.

      1. Tisme*

        It’s ridiculous because there are already leftovers so ordering more food for the men is just a waste because its not needed.

        Accounting for peoples personal intake, for the main family meal is different to doing so, for a catered one off meal at work. Even if the work meals take in lunch and dinner, if there are already leftovers as standard, it means that the men have enough to eat.

      2. The Man, Becky Lynch*

        That’s nice that you’re outrighted by your family. It’s not the same everywhere.

        The women in my family are all on par with the men. I’m actually heavier than my partner by a bit. So la de da. We are indeed all very different.

      3. Jackalope*

        See the comments above. It’s ridiculous because you can’t predict how much someone will eat just based on gender. Energy output is a better possible option. And a lot of women shared stories up above about going to catered meals where they were assuming what women would eat and these attendees were incredibly hungry because they were underfed.

  18. Gaming Teapot*

    OP 2: As someone pointed out upthread, it’s entirely possible that IT cannot actually change your email address, because it might be auto-generated through the entries HR makes in your file. I’d recommend that you:

    1) Go back to IT and explicitly ask them if they are not going to change your name because they CAN’T or because they WON’T. If it’s the latter, dig in your heels for all the reasons Alison mentioned. If it’s the former:

    2) Go to HR and inform them of this issue. Make them sort it out.

    1. Database Developer Dude*

      As someone who works in IT and has been an email administrator before, no. It is not possible that IT is unable to change the email address. At the very least, a secondary address can be established that points to the same mailbox, and reply-to: can be automatically set so that nobody uses the existing one.

      1. Observer*

        Exactly. And for all intents and purposes, it’s the same thing.

        If IT need HR to approve it, they should say so, but that’s not what’s happening here.

  19. MommyMD*

    Why bring trans people into her wanting a name change? She’s already having issues with it. Simply go to HR and explain the situation.

    1. Lena Clare*

      I think Alison’s bringing up the issue of a trans person because if they wanted to change their name at some point, the company they work for are legally obliged to change it. (Well in the UK anyway). So it’s not a matter of IT not being able to do it (because they’d have to do it if legally required to) – it sounds like they are just being petty or difficult or just downright lazy.

      1. MommyMD*

        I understand. But I think she jumps to the veiled legal threats/issues too quickly. I’ve noticed this many times. Speak with HR first about the issue at hand. This is not a trans employee seeking to go by a new name.

        1. londonedit*

          I think that’s what Alison was suggesting, though – speak to HR/IT about it first off, but if they still push back for whatever ridiculous reasons, OP could escalate it by pointing out that while they might think OP is just being fussy about their name, if it was a trans person, they’d be getting themselves in trouble if they refused to allow them to use their preferred name. And if they can allow someone to use their preferred name in that situation, they can allow it for OP too.

          1. valentine*

            if it was a trans person, they’d be getting themselves in trouble if they refused to allow them to use their preferred name.
            Even if a trans person can sue their company, they’re still on the back foot. MommyMD is right that OP1 should not raise the specter of trans people. Using trans people like that is transphobic.

            1. Vegas Baby*

              Being an ally for trans people by pointing out a trans-unfriendly policy is not transphobic (!!). This is a trans-unfriendly policy that violates the law in at least one state. I hope people would point that out.

              1. SomebodyElse*

                I don’t know… it seems kind of ick to me for someone to use trans people (or anybody else for that matter) to get what they want.

                1. SomebodyElse*

                  Adding… I think it would be different if somebody pointed this out who doesn’t want a name change for themselves. If that were the case I’d agree. But using a marginalized group who one doesn’t belong to in order to get what they want… yeah, that I have a problem with.

                2. boo bot*

                  I thought Alison was pointing that out because this policy would in fact cause a legitimate problem for some trans people, and that’s something anyone with a similar policy should take into consideration (and change their policy).

                  Like, if I wrote in saying I got written up for taking long bathroom breaks, because the only way to the bathroom at my workplace is sneaking through a dragon’s hoard, Alison would presumably advise me on how to talk to my manager about the write-up. But she would be remiss if she failed to mention that that whole dragon thing could turn out to be a problem, as well.

                3. Quinalla*

                  It isn’t using a group to get what they want, it is very importantly pointing out how a policy would affect other people. That is a courtesy to tell your employer when their policies are either legally or ethically problematic. The folks who are enforcing or who instituted this policy (or both) have not though about ramifications of this for a variety of groups and it should be addressed with them if they continue to push back.

                4. sheworkshardforthemoney*

                  Someone hiding from an abusive ex or a stalker has a good reason not to use their legal name. It shouldn’t be necessary to tell IT that if you put my legal name out there I may have to quit my job and move again.

              2. Countess Boochie Flagrante*


                The OP can bring up trans people constructively by pointing out that if a system does not already exist to facilitate name changes (preferably without retaining the old name in the email address), that is something that the company is going to have to deal with sooner or later.

              3. Monokeros de Astris*

                As another trans person, this. I’m exhausted enough pushing my company to fix issues like this (though thankfully much less blatant than this). Something so obvious? If cis people can get started pushing before I start working there, that’s great. OTOH, if the company won’t budge even for something this obvious, I’d be looking to leave, even though my name has been legally changed; they can’t possibly be supportive of me if they’re not willing to even think about doing the bare minimum.

            2. N.L.*

              As an actual trans person, please don’t tell people that pointing out discriminatory polices is transphobic. Jesus Christ. This isn’t using trans folks to get what they want, it’s pointing out all the reasons a policy is bad. We’re one of those reasons.

            3. neeko*

              No, it’s really not transphobic at all. Part of being an ally is pointing out things that you see are a form of discrimination and not waiting for the marginalized community to have to do all of the work.

          2. Rusty Shackelford*

            Right. It’s just the last step in a possible escalation.

            This isn’t the name I go by, please change it.
            Oh, sorry, we don’t do that.

            It’s going to be confusing to people who need to email me.
            Yeah, we don’t consider that a problem.

            Interesting. How are you going to deal with it when a trans person wants to start using their new name, and it becomes a discrimination issue?
            Huh. Maybe we do need to think about that.

        2. MicroManagered*

          It’s not a veiled legal threat though. It’s pointing out an example of when a first name change is legally required. If OP’s university operates in multiple states, it’s actually very relevant because a lot of multi-state entities tend to operate on the requirements of states with the most restrictive law for stuff like this, just to be on the safe side.

      2. Anon for this*

        They might still refuse the trans person unless there’s been a legal name change.

        I work at a university in the UK whose HR recently brought in a system that did not allow for ANY names other than legal ones, and the names on the system would be visible to all staff members. When I went to speak to them because I had not legally changed my name (immigrant, so the process is much more complicated and expensive for me), they told me that the only way to avoid outing me was for me to legally change my name very quickly and let them know when I’d done it.

        1. Sophie*

          You should escalate.

          In the UK, you are protected from discrimination with the protected characteristic of gender reassignment (you do not need to have undergone reassignment to be clear). A policy which actively outs you by publishing your deadname has the effect of exposing your private medical information to people who do not require to know this.

    2. Glomarization, Esq.*

      I agree in that I think bringing up trans* people is bordering on concern trolling. LW would be best advised to talk about their own concerns, not the concerns of someone who is not bringing a request/problem to IT.

      1. Vegas Baby*

        Of course they should talk about their own concerns but while they’re doing it they can also do some advocacy/awareness-raising about the impact this would have on trans people. It’s relevant to the policy and might make them realize they will run into other situations where they can not be this rigid. This is part of allyship.

        1. Glomarization, Esq.*

          It can also be seen as slippery slope-ing, what-about-ing, or at best just bringing up problems that don’t actually yet exist. LW doesn’t fail to be an ally by sticking to their own issue.

          1. merp*

            At a good-sized university, I sincerely doubt that the problem doesn’t yet exist. Far more likely that trans folks are weighing whether or not they can safely bring it up, or bring it up without having to answer a lot of invasive questions. People may think they don’t know any trans folks, but it’s very possible they just don’t know any trans folks who feel like they can disclose that information.

            1. Quill*

              And if you wanna be a good ally… make the stink that helps other people out. You’re safer making it than they are.

              “Fix my issue, and realize that it will come up again for a variety of reasons so you might as well not pretend that it won’t” is a decent position to take regardless.

              1. Ethyl*

                “make the stink that helps other people out. You’re safer making it than they are.”

                Thanks that’s exactly what I was trying to say below, but much better!!!

          2. Ethyl*

            Depending on where the LW’s university is located/does business, it may well be a problem now or in the very near future. The policy is transphobic (and weird!) and it’ll cost the LW less (emotionally, mentally) to push to change the policy, which would cover future trans colleagues as well as the countless other people who use “given names.”

          3. Quinalla*

            It is a problem that exists right now! Just because it hasn’t affected a trans person yet (that we know of), doesn’t mean it isn’t already a problem. Organizations should not be sitting around waiting for the first woman or trans person and so on to start working for them before they figure this stuff out.

            When I brought up to my boss that we don’t have any room in our building where a nursing mother could pump breastmilk, it was not an immediately problem (I’m done with that and we don’t employee any other women at my location), but it should still be addressed because it is a problem!

    3. Moray*

      I don’t think saying “there are circumstances where strictly holding to this policy wouldn’t just be inconvenient and illogical, but genuinely discriminatory” is a bad point to make at all.

    4. Alton*

      One, as a non-binary person who doesn’t use my legal first name, I always appreciate it when cis people recognize when policies are problematic for trans people.

      Two, in my own experience with academia, issues that may affect students and issues that relate to diversity and inclusion are often taken more seriously than issues pertaining to the personal preferences of faculty and staff, at least from a PR perspective. So being able to relate a problem back to things that are considered important to the school’s mission and benefits students can be a helpful strategy. Considering this is an issue that probably affects LGBT people at the school, I don’t think it’s cheap or inaccurate to bring it up.

      The efforts to make it easier for people to use preferred names at my university have been spearheaded by people pushing to make things better for trans students.

  20. Tyche*

    #4 Maybe I’m too distrusting, but I’m not sure I’ll give this company the benefit of the doubt. I think they should have been clear form the start that they don’t have a “real” position for you, so you could have decided to go on with the interviews or not. I’m feel like they are stringing you along. Maybe you should put your efforts toward other jobs and companies.

    #3 He has gumption!
    I think Allison’s scripts are perfect, but as his manager maybe you can see a bigger picture here? How long has he worked there with you? He is a top performer or not? Maybe his role and duties have been stagnating? Maybe he was bypassed for a promotion by other coworkers? I want to be clear: I don’t agree with his methods and his multiple requests, but maybe you can broaden your talk with him based on your observations.

  21. Eillah*

    OP2– you have my sympathies. I go by a nickname taken from my middle name (THANKS, MOM AND DAD) and *finally* got IT to bend when I stressed that people thought I’d been fired because I wasn’t showing up in a Ctrl + K search of the directory. Stay strong!!

  22. Myrin*

    #3, two questions regarding what I find a highly interesting letter but which is getting buried a bit:

    1. You’re being very matter-of-fact and down-to-earth in your phrasing so I can’t quite tell, but: Is this employee actually fit for a promotion? I see a lot about what he wants in your letter but other than the fact that he would be a “primary candidate” for any advanced opportunities, there isn’t a lot about what his work – both regarding output as well as demeanour – actually looks like.

    2. Have you told him clearly to stop asking since nothing is going to change? I realise that wording for that exact situation is what your letter to Alison aimed for but I thought I’d ask anyway. You say that it has been explained to him that “business decisions cannot be made just because someone wants something” – an important point to make! – but has anyone actually told him to, for the love of god, stop asking for a promotion already? For a position he himself made up, at that? Because honestly – obviously I don’t know him and you focused on this very specific topic in your depiction of the situation but he sounds like a right pain and if I had to deal with that (both as a supervisors and even more so as a coworker) I’d be pretty annoyed.

      1. valentine*

        For a position he himself made up, at that?
        The position in the other department is only relevant if it’s the same as what he’s concocted, in which case I could see where he’d be miffed no one told him, “It’s ain’t gonna happen unless you transfer.” If his comparison is just that the position was created for someone, he needs someone to point out the difference and to shut down his fantasy.

        1. DANGER: Gumption Ahead*

          Also, who created it matters. There is a world of difference between me coming up with a job description for myself and asking to be put in it and my boss developing one for me and asking/assigning me

    1. Tisme*

      Thanks Myrin for typing up exactly what I was wondering. My hands are playing up, so you’ve saved me some pain. :-)

    2. Miss Pantalones en Fuego*

      This employee strikes me as being very difficult to work with. It’s one thing to have an idea that might be a useful direction to go in, but I can’t imaging asking about it repeatedly like this. It seems like he is spending too much time trying to figure out how to get out of the job he is currently doing, perhaps. The fact that he rejected the compromise seems like a bit of a yellow flag to me as well. Is he trying to jump up the ladder, so to speak, and get out of doing things he just doesn’t like?

      1. voyager1*

        Great points Myrin.

        I do think the last point about “looking outside the company” comes off as passive aggressive without telling the employee to stop asking.

        The employee needs to hear “stop asking” directly.

        1. Filosofickle*

          Agreed on “looking outside the company”. I probably wouldn’t say that, or if I did I wouldn’t repeat it in the 2nd conversation. If I were the employee, I would hear that as my no longer being welcome there.

          1. boo bot*

            It communicates important information, though: if what he is looking for is an immediate promotion (or maybe any promotion) it’s not going to happen at this company.

            There are a few different ways you could word it, but ultimately I think acknowledging that he might not want to stay, given the circumstances, is just realistic – it does kind of sound passive-aggressive, but I think it still has to be said once? I agree on not repeating it, though: saying it twice will definitely sound like he’s getting nudged out the door.

    3. Colette*

      And honestly, not recognizing that the business needs take precedence over what you personally want to be doing is a problem if your goal is to get promoted. Managers need to be willing to make the right decisions for the business.

    4. Washi*

      Yep, I agree! It’s a little hard to imagine this lack of self-awareness being limited to this one issue.

      I might be slightly more blunt than Alison’s script and kindly but firmly say something like “I know you’re very enthusiastic about your idea for X position, but the company’s answer is no. This position is not going to be created. If anything changes, I’ll let you know, but until then, please consider the subject closed.” And then move on to “I understand this may mean you start looking outside the company, but I hope we can keep you, can consider you for other possibilities for advancement” etc. Since it seems like this guy latches on to any tiny shred of hope that maybe it will actually happen, I would want to be pretty firm that he’s gotten his answer, and it is a definite no.

  23. Ms. Cellophane*

    I do the order the catering for our office events as well. I don’t think it’s fair to imply Jane is out of touch. Perhaps in her own life experience she has encountered many younger guys who can really put away the food. I know I have! That said, I have also noticed this levels off as they get older and they eat normal portions. Otherwise I agree-order for the numbers, not the genders.

    1. Seeking Second Childhood*

      ONE time makes sense. Telling OP how to order after she’s run multiple events all of which had leftovers? That would feel insulting. Heck with the sexism — that feels like Jane is insulting OP’s competence!

      1. valentine*

        Perhaps in her own life experience she has encountered many younger guys who can really put away the food. I know I have!
        If you give boys dinosaurs and trucks and praise them for it, while chastising girls for even looking at them, you’re probably going to end up with boys who choose dinosaurs and trucks, not boys who necessarily like them, and none of it’s natural. Encourage younger people assigned female at birth to “put away the food” and see if the tide turns.

    2. Rusty Shackelford*

      But there’s a difference between “in my experience, when the group is predominantly female, they tend to eat less food” and what Jane’s doing.

    3. Mockingjay*

      Umm, women can eat a lot too. In my younger years, I was a female ectomorph with a very fast metabolism. I ate way more than most men my age. Jane never met me or she would have tripled the order.

      (Aging took care of the metabolism, alas. But I still enjoy decent portions of food.)

    4. Observer*

      You’re missing the fact that she is focusing ONLY on the gender – not “young guys”, but “guys”. Age is a much bigger factor.

  24. Database Developer Dude*

    Your IT department needs to be told several things Alison won’t let me post here.

    If it’s a Windows shop, and they use Active Directory as part of the domain, all they need to do is go into your account, and change the ‘Description/Display’ field to read ‘PreferredFirstName Last Name’ or ‘Last Name, PreferredFirstName’. That way, the actual email address can be whatever IT says it has to be, and what people see can be what you want them to see.

    If Booz Allen Hamilton can do it for me, I don’t see why any other firm can’t do it for you. I go by my initials, and if you get an email from my work email, you’ll *see* ‘LastName, Initials’, but the address will be ‘’.

    1. Buffy*

      Yeah, I work for MS and it’s a feature built into active directory. We even have the ability to update our preferred display name ourselves without involving IT at all. So my actual alias is set based on the letters in my first and last name (Buffy Smith would be BufSmi) but the display name is whatever I want it to be. Their IT department is just being lazy and they don’t want the overhead.

  25. Oryx*

    I stayed at a bed & breakfast once that served the men extra food. I think she had made pancakes or something and they got two and the women only got one. Even one of the men at the table looked at everyone’s plates, utterly baffled.

    1. Foreign Octopus*

      This would make me furious for a number of reasons but the main one is that when I was sixteen, my mum gave both my brothers two chicken sandwiches and me only one with the defence hat they were boys and needed more food. The unfairness of it still makes me burn fourteen years later. There’s an old-school thinking to this issue that definitely has no place in the workplace let alone this century.

      1. valentine*

        they got two and the women only got one.
        The women, hopefully: What do you mean, I only paid half my bill?

      2. Artemesia*

        Want to feel even worse — an acquaintance of ours had 6 boys and the second oldest played football and he would be served a big sirloin steak for dinner while everyone else ate hamburger although of course hamburger was nutritionally the same.

    2. London Calling*

      In the early 80s I worked for an American bank in London that provided free lunches. Men got huge portions of food, women smaller ones, and the servers (middle aged women, and I am one, so I’m allowed this comment) looked most affronted when women asked for ‘as much as you gave him.’ Like drinking pints, it just wasn’t ladylike too be a woman and have a hearty appetite.

      1. SarahKay*

        In my second year of university they introduced start of year ‘Goody bags’ – bar of chocolate, can of soda, bag of crisps (chips in the US), pen, pencil, pile of advertising bumf, all in quite a useful draw-string bag. There was a *huge* row kicked up about them because the women all got diet sodas while the men got the full-sugar version.
        The next year when we went to collect the bags there was a pile of bags and two stacks of soda cans so everyone could chose their preferred version.
        This was 30 years ago, and I still recall my fury at the time!

        1. Lynn*

          I was at a (well known mid-range chain-think Hampton Inn/HI Express level) hotel in Las Vegas for work. When I checked in, I got a little goody bag. They had them separated by gender.

          In my goody bag was a romance novel. Blech. If that is your kind of novel, more power to you. But I don’t like them. More importantly, I asked what the “boy’s toy” was to see if I could get something better. Apparently, men got a bag with a mystery novel (still not my favored style, but closer). I have no idea why they didn’t just ask folks which one they would prefer.

          It left a bad taste-and in all of my trips to Vegas, and I get out there at least twice a year-often more, I have never stayed there again. I get to pick my hotels, and they are not on my list. Actually, I quit staying at the chain altogether after my complaint about it was blown off-and this was when I was a super-duper-double-diamond-seriously how often do you stay in hotels-member.

          1. London Calling*

            Going slightly off piste here but while working at the same bank HR refused to use a local hotel where visiting US staff used to stay because of their habit of treating women sitting by themselves in reception or the bar as prostitutes waiting for clients. We stopped using that hotel when a VERY senior female SVP from New York got escorted off the premises after being accused of soliciting. Quite a stink was kicked up at a very high level about that.

          2. Nephron*

            And this is why fast food places no longer offer boys or girls toys with kids meals, they offer the types of toys. The goal is happy customers, not to pretend to be a psychic that knows what toys each kid wants.

    3. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      Omfg can you imagine if restaurants tried this technique. Just maybe throw away a little instead of sending someone away hungry.

      The first time I made breakfast for my partner who’s Paul Bunyan sized, he had to stop me from giving him too much “I’m filling my stomach not this entire body, love!” *rubs stomach to show it’s not actually that big LOL* (

    4. Kiki*

      It’s an especially odd thing to do in a b&b setting where there are few enough people that you could ask how many pancakes everyone wants. Or let everyone start with just one and offer to make more for anyone who wants one. It’s really annoying to encounter out in the world because I generally eat more than my boyfriend (we’re the same height and I exercise a lot more and I also just love food).

      1. Artemesia*

        Probably women generally eat fewer pancakes than men, but when you are serving a dozen or fewer people, of course you ask because you aren’t serving ‘generally’, you are serving specific people. I would want no pancake; my husband two; my daughter two at least.

        1. SarahKay*

          So true. I’m a woman, I love pancakes, and I want at least my fair share – where ‘less than the men’ does not equal ‘fair share’!
          Ideally I want more than that, but I accept that that would be… well, unfair.

    5. MatKnifeNinja*

      You brought up a memory.

      My cousin and I went out to dinner. I order beef and he ordered chicken.

      I’m guessing beef=dude food , and chicken=girly food.

      Our plates came out. I had a massive amount of beef on my plate, and just enough side vegetables to qualify as a side. My cousin received a smallish looking piece of chicken, a piled on house salad and the biggest wall of broccoli surrounding the smallish piece of chicken.

      My cousin loathes broccoli and most veggies unless they are way over cooked.

      We howled. I took a picture of the broccoli wall. There was enough broccoli for three side servings.

      I don’t believe the restaurant ran out of food. Whomever plated in the back must have thought breast of chicken lightly grilled =girly, and thought they were doing “her” a favor by extra veggies. Diets y’all! I had meatloaf (it is to die for…).

      We wound up sharing everything. I took the huge side salad and half the broccoli wall.

      Most restaurant chicken is WAY over cooked, so I never order it. It has happened a few times when eating out with my cousin, the wait person gives me the chicken because women (I guess) only order chicken.

      1. CMart*

        You can imagine how often my husband and I get served each other’s food due to the fact that he prefers undressed salads and light fish dishes and I’m a medium-rare burger fiend. It’s especially funny at nicer restaurants where they pride themselves on having accurate orders by seat (so the servers never have to go “and who had the fish?”) when the food runner comes out and looks like they ran into a wall as they hesitate before setting our plates down.

        It really highlights the OP’s point and a lot of other people’s point: when in smaller groups you really just need to take the actual people involved into account. Planning by stereotype only works in the aggregate for much larger events.

      2. Buffy*

        I had similar happen to me. Out to dinner with four guys. I ordered a huge steak and the guy next to me ordered a tiny steak. When the food came out, the server automatically gave me the small cut of meat and gave him the large one. Because I guess women don’t eat large cuts of meat?

  26. SigneL*

    LW2 – IT could have changed the name in much less time than all this discussion has taken! I mean, seriously!

  27. Bree*

    I go by my middle name, and have my entire life. In my case, it was just a kind of odd choice by my parents,* but there are plenty of cultures where it’s also common to not use your legal first name day-to-day, in addition to the trans* issue.

    In my entire life, I have never had a school, medical office or employer refuse to adapt when I say one name has to be on my legal paperwork but another used for everything else. Explaining it has caused minor inconvenience and confusion, but that’s it. IT is being RIDICULOUS.

    *My parents knew what they wanted my two names to be and which they wanted to use, but then flipped them so my initials wouldn’t be BS. My dad is BJ, and I guess he had a rough childhood? It seems over cautious to me and it’s a bit annoying, but people generally understand when I explain so it’s not worth changing.

    1. Becky*

      My sister has gone by her middle name her entire life, my parents named her the way they did intending to call her by her middle name, they just wanted her initials to match my Dad’s initials and so popped a name they never intended to call her on front.

      This has been a source of frustration her entire life. At one point, she was looking into legally changing it but the state she was living in made it more difficult (though apparently in Virginia it is fairly easy–our mother ironically enough always hated her first name and legally changed it to a nickname she’d gone by since she was like 2).

    2. Commercial Property Manager*

      My family has a three-generation tradition of naming our kids after favorite book characters. Because we wanted to carry on the tradition, and because my husband and I are huge fantasy nerds, my daughter is [somewhat fantastical literary name] [uncommon but well-known American middle name] [common last name].

      Right now, she’s a toddler, and we use her first name. I hope she loves it all her life, but we very deliberately gave her a more common middle name in case she ever decides there’s too much hassle/baggage/WHATEVER attached to her first name.

      And we also put a lot of thought into the initials, and into nicknames, and into everything else! I was also taunted a lot as a kid, as my last name can rhyme with a gender slur.

  28. V*

    LW#5 – if I saw that on someone’s CV / app form I’d think a combination of “I don’t want Company A’s castoffs” and “Why did Company A not select her themselves if she’s that great”. Definitely nothing positive… so leave it off!

    1. Falling Diphthong*

      Yeah… This would logically lead toward “So Company A didn’t want you… can you expand on exactly where they felt you were lacking?”

      Even with backchannels, if Company B’s Wakeen talks to Company A’s Fergus and mentions casually “Oh, we’re interviewing a Thumbelina Warblewarf for the IT position” and Fergus says “Oh, we interviewed her too, for the same position… she was pretty good, made the last round”–Wakeen is not going to say “Oh, FERGUS likes her (but didn’t hire her), that is really going to change how we view her candidacy.” Working at Company A would be relevant to Company B; interviewing not so much.

    2. Person from the Resume*

      Was runner up for a job means absolutely nothing to another company, but it can means something for you.

      For the reasons V and Falling Dipthong mentioned, plus you could be lying and you could have been told a polite nicety and you really weren’t second best and just barely beat out by the other guy both of which are hard to verify as there are little records of almost getting a job and it isn’t officially sharable information.

      However it is perfectly fine to use it as motivation for yourself to keep going and just to know that you’re doing something right and likely have a solid resume and interview skills.

    3. not it*

      #5: “I wasn’t successful getting over the bar at Company A. Do you have lower standards?”

      Over the years, I’ve had a handful of candidates mention similar ideas. I haven’t moved forward with any. That’s not because it is so outrageous in and of itself. I believe this is just Something Stronger Candidates Do Not Do. Not because of an unwritten rule. They just don’t feel the need.

      Getting to the finalist position helps affirm that your networking and interviewing skills are good. Keep at it. Keep up your hope. Something good will come your way.

    4. Federal Middle Manager*

      While it’s not something I’d ever recommend putting in writing, I do think there can be merit to mentioning it casually in conversation. When I’ve seen it done successfully (and done it myself) it signals that you are serious about job-hunting and can show you’re serious about either a certain kind of position or relocation, not just dabbling.

  29. Another Manic Monday*

    I was born in a different country and in that culture it’s standard to give children multiple given names (3-4) instead of just a first and a middle name. I have always gone with my second given name as I shared my “first name” with all the males in my family.

    I learned when moving to the United States that the American computer systems isn’t set up for people with multiple given names. I ended up having multiple variations of my name in different government systems depending on how it was entered into the computer by the staff. Let say that my name is: “Peter Mark Jonathan Smith” and “Mark” is the given name that I have been known by since birth.

    In the United States, I ended up having the following variations of my name on official documents:

    Peter Mark J Smith
    Petermark J Smith
    Petermark Jonath Smith (yes, Jonathan cut in half)
    Peter M Smith
    Peter Mark Smith
    Mark Peter Smith
    Mark P Smith
    Mark Jonathan Smith
    Mark J Smith

    It was a source of endless frustration for years until I became a citizen and had a name change. I completely removed “Peter” from my name and now go by “Mark Jonathan Smith”. I still have to explain to security officers at my work why I have been using multiple aliases in my past.

    1. German Girl*

      Yeah, and not having a middle name (which is common in my culture) also upsets the US bureaucracy – I can’t even count how many times I’ve been told something like “You forgot to put your middle name on this form.”

      And in the beginning, when my spoken English wasn’t that good, yet, people wouldn’t believe me when I said I had no middle name and assume that I didn’t understand the form and explain to me that I must have a middle name and must put it here … no I really don’t have one.

    2. Commercial Property Manager*

      “Petermark” is my favorite variant on this. What a bureaucratic hell!

    3. Buffy*

      I live in the USA and I gave my daughter four names (first name, middle name, second middle name, last name). USA systems do NOT like multiple middle names or even initials despite the fact that it’s really not that uncommon here for people to have four names like that. She got so tired of them leaving off one of her middle names that she ended up concatenating her first name and first middle name together (two names that are often combined into one) so that they’d get it right.

  30. MicroManagered*

    Jane is a grandmother from 1874 who has time traveled.

    Alison, as a time-traveling grandmother from 1874, I’m offended. When I arrange catering, I do not base portion sizes on the headcount of men vs. women. Then men eat first and the women get the scraps, then the leavings are fed to the hogs. Get your facts straight. :)

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        Nah… that’s the instructions from her menfolk. I do wonder what to do when there are boys & girls too young to work in the fields – do they get fed before or after the hogs?

    1. AndersonDarling*

      I figured Jane was a time traveler from 30,000 BCE and she really meant CAVEmen. She is worried that the barbarian men will snatch food from the women’s plates, howl, and beat the ground if they are still hungry after their first serving.

  31. Delta Delta*

    #1 – Seems like it would be most cost effective to have an event, and afterward, assess what you’ve got left over. If it seems consistent with prior leftovers, adjust the order accordingly so there isn’t quite so much left. As for dealing with Jane, it seems like a direct response, like “stop it” is in order.

    I actually had a similar situation once in my first real job. I had to put together an informal lunch meeting. We didn’t really have a catering budget, so I was sent to the store to get things to make sandwiches, etc. I returned with bread, sandwich fillings, cookies, chips and fruits to make a fruit salad. My manager, who I always thought was a pretty with it said, “oh, the guys aren’t going to eat fruit salad. They’re big burly men!” But it was too late so I just said I’d apologize if they were still hungry afterward. One of the “big burly men” exclaimed, “hey! Fruit!” (I am not kidding. It was funny.) At the end of the meeting, the cookies and chips remained. the fruit bowl was totally empty. Score one for the burly men and the fruit bowl. Manager did eat crow and conceded the fruit salad was a good idea.

    1. Kiki*

      The way food is gendered is so interesting to me. Fruit is delicious! Why wouldn’t men enjoy fruit?

    2. Seeking Second Childhood*

      I’m thinking of the reaction when a diabetic friend asked his new company if they’d add a salad option on pizza day — *EVERYONE* wanted the salad instead of the pizza. They had to increase the salad-to-pizza ratio several times before salad stopped running out.

    3. Wonderer*

      “There’s an art of knowing when. Never try to guess.
      Toast until it smokes and then twenty seconds less!”
      -Piet Hein

  32. Goldfinch*

    LW #4

    “do a skills assignment that took hours” theeeeere it is. There’s no job, LW. They’re using applicants to get free work. This isn’t disorganization, it’s planned.

    1. Mannheim Steamroller*

      Maybe warn other “applicants” by writing a Glassdoor review to this effect.

  33. EPLawyer*

    LW 3 – I would be a bit blunter than Alison suggested. The guy has been told no already. He is now engaging in what aboutism. You need to sit him down in a one on one and state that you have explained multiple times that he is not getting the promotion he wants. That IF the situation changes you will notify him but that he is not to keep bringing it up. You can even point out that his continually bringing it up will actually harm his chances of advancement at the company. Lay it out for him. Because at this point he is so focused on creating that positon that he noticed what another department did, he is becoming a distraction to your department.

    1. WellRed*

      Also, LW, you don’t need to explain why the OTHER department did this. You only need to explain why it isn’t happening in YOUR department.

    2. Lynn Whitehat*

      I had a co-worker get fired over this kind of thing. He wanted to debate the same things, over and over, ENDLESSLY. Scrum vs Kanban, should there be a coding standard at all (he was anti-standard), if we did have a standard, should curly braces be on their own line or not, should we have unit tests (he was anti-that too). Oh my Goddddddddd. It’s been four years, and I can still hear him in my head getting started for the day, “first you say you embrace Agile, and the Agile Manifesto says we value people over process. Then you impose this heavyweight process…” Management finally decided he was bad for morale and showed him the door.

      1. Artemesia*

        This was a major factor in our not renewing a long term employee on a revolving contract. He never knew when to stop pushing. I was at least as opinionated and forthcoming about my recommendations as he was, but I knew a ‘no’ when I heard it. He just never knew when to stop grousing about a decision that didn’t go his way. He finally POed sufficient powerful people and also I who had been protecting him at renewal time stopped when he stabbed me in the back a couple of times. Next time his contract was discussed, I just said nothing and it wasn’t renewed.

  34. LGC*

    …clearly, Jane doesn’t work in my office! (A lot of the women at my job are NOT SHY about being hungry.)

    So, yeah, LW1. Honestly, I would also drop in a “Sis, it’s 2019, it’s not a sin for a woman to be seen eating in public,” but I’m also sassy.

    (For what it’s worth, I – as a real life man – obviously think Jane is wrong and kind of condescending, and I’d be a little self conscious about taking larger portions just because I’m a guy. And if you already have leftovers most of the time, you’re ordering more than enough food as it is! If your dudes are really THAT hungry, they can start there.

    (Also, yeah, I went there. I feel like the other half of Jane’s statement is that women don’t eat a lot, and I can’t help but feel like part of that is gendered thinking about it being seen as improper for women to eat as much as men, and to engage in bodily functions in general. But that’s a huge debate, and doesn’t change the advice given.)

    1. LGC*

      That said…I was keyed up enough about Jane’s sexism (okay, yes, I used the S-word) that I forgot about actual ordering!

      I think it’s good that you usually have leftovers, but is there a pattern to events where you don’t, or events where you have an excessive amount of leftovers? If so, I’d say order a bit more for events where you don’t often have leftovers and less for events that have a lot. Jane MIGHT have some point buried deep down – if people are smashing the bagels at the all-hands (with an even gender mix), but only eating 1/3 of the fruit tray at the C-level meeting (where your C-level executives are mostly women), order more bagels and a smaller fruit platter.

    2. LawBee*

      Agreed – Jane is being incredibly gendered and sexist in her thinking. It’s the joys of living in a gendered and sexist society.

      1. LGC*

        True, but there’s only so much LW1 can do to smash the patriarchy with regards to Jane – and after I picked my jaw up off the floor I realized that there possibly could be a genuine issue here (or maybe I just read too much into “usually there are leftovers”).

        Which is not to say that Jane has ANYWHERE near the right solution. Or even that there is an issue. But if LW1 runs out of food for similar events, then maybe she needs to order more for those because of those events, not because men are human trash disposals.

  35. Amy*

    My company doesn’t care which name you use for email. You can be Danny.Smith@co if you want. Or Salome Smith even though your legal name is Amanda.

    So I find it cumbersome that several colleagues have submitted names they don’t use. If you go by Tuppence but your name is Gertrude, just put that in your email.

    I’m constantly searching for people and thinking “wait, what’s their other name that they don’t use?”

    If the goal is ease of use for the client or colleagues, name you actually use is the way to go.

    1. Seeking Second Childhood*

      >ease of use for the client
      I worked for someone whose display name was her married name but her actual email address was her maiden name. We lost track of how many times she was overlooked on a critical meeting or had purchase order problems with a vendor or an external client’s materials were (re)submitted late — because they knew how names are generated and they typed it without looking at an incoming email.
      All because IT at a Fortune 500 company couldn’t figure out how to do it.

      1. A Non E. Mouse*

        That is a remarkably easy fix – just add an alias.

        It takes like 30 seconds or less on any system I’ve ever encountered in the wild.

  36. Anon for this, colleagues read here*

    OP #2. I hope you do get that changed. I work at a large public university where your email address is first initial middle initial first 6 letters of your last name @ Once you have an email address — which is also your id for getting into everything — that’s it. Get married and change your name? Too bad! Get divorced and change your name? Too bad! Legally change your name for any reason? Too bad! You can see who is most affected by this, hint hint, it ain’t guys.
    While we (employees and students) can put our preferred name in the university directory, students show up in official class rolls and other online records with their full legal names. Every day, this university outs trans students.

    1. Brett*

      You are talking about a userid which _is_ an email address but is not your only email address. (And should _never_ be used in external emails outside the organization. If you giving that email to people outside the university, you are probably violating IT security policy.) The email address that most people see if your alias address that references back to that userid. Userids should never be changed or only changed with a great deal of caution.

      What the OP is referring to is the display name, which is completely under the control of the end user and set with each email that goes out. Someone who is trans, or gets married, or gets divorced, can set a completely different display name from their userid without any involvement form IT, and can use a different aliased email from the userid (but that does require IT’s involvement).
      Probably the poor practice here is using a userid based on your name at all. It is becoming more standard practice to assign a randomly generated userid to each user, to create higher entropy in userid-password combinations.

      1. Marty McFly*

        Brett – It seems that your institution has taken different security measures, but please understand that not all are like that. You are invalidating “Anon for this” comment just because it’s not your experience. I can speak from experience that some institutions do still use for email address and I even confirmed by going to an alma mater’s page where it states “Your Office 365 email address is”

        When changing my name, security settings were locked down, so I couldn’t change my display name for email or the learning management system. I could change it on the school’s directory, but it was confusing to have my name be entirely different. People weren’t sure if they had the right person, and there was no option for “formerly LastName”. I did add that to my email signature but I was going through a divorce to an unpleasant person and seeing my old name appear every time I logged in was difficult and could be triggering. Luckily, in my experience, IT worked with me and though my userid had to stay the same, it was vague enough that I could look past it. But this process took about 8 months.

      2. Reba*

        so… you are never supposed to use a work email to do business with someone outside your org? Not everyone is using aliases, and it seems really common for aliases to be tightly controlled or formulaic, too, or for them to be the same as the userid.

        Re: the display names — as others have pointed out, having a display name that’s different from the email doesn’t always solve the problem, and can just create additional confusion. (I get that you’re saying it shouldn’t be a name-based email… but it usually is.) For a trans* person it would be incredibly undermining to put their deadname right next to their correct name, as mail applications often display it — outing them! Actually, I think it would be undermining for anyone — names are important.

        1. Brett*

          @Reba You should not provide your userid based email to someone outside your org (and you should avoid the habit of using it inside your org). By “provide” I mean when you provide an email address verbally, written, or through a form. You should not have to worry about which address you use when you are sending and receiving emails. The email system will automatically substitute the appropriate alias. (A lot of organizations now have separate internal and external aliases and will substitute the appropriate one based on the recipient list.)

          I mentioned the display name because the OP mentions display name (an easy by incomplete fix) when I think they actually mean the userid (an extremely difficult fix even if it completely solves the problem) based on IT’s response. Requesting an aliased email is the better alternative that solves the problem and is technically easy to implement (even if it could be bureaucratically difficult).

      3. Alton*

        This definitely isn’t true of all universities. My experience is the same as Anon’s–our userids are our emails, they’re the only work emails we have, and they’re viewable to the public/used when conducting business with people who aren’t affiliated with the university.

      4. Brett*

        The situations described above are policy decisions, not technical limitations. The reason your emails are the only emails available is because the organization has made a policy decision not to use email aliases, one that is a particularly poor one from a security perspective. This is not because there is a technical limitation preventing the use of aliases.

        (For Marty, Office365 is weird in that the userid is called “Your Office 365 email address”. It is an email address, but it is also your canonical userid. Despite that, Office365 definitely has email aliases and Microsoft advises admins to create a separate external alias for every user instead of using the Office365 email address.)

        1. Observer*

          Sure, they are policy decisions. But your initial comment ignores the fact that many, many organization make stupid policy decisions, including, apparently, AnnonForThis’ and OP’s.

      5. Observer*

        Firstly, you are factually incorrect that the display name is under the control of the user. The fact that you repeatedly make that claim, even though it is simply NOT universally true leads me to question the basis for your self proclaimed expertise.

        In no centrally managed email system that I know of can the end user create an alias email either. It’s a trivial job for whoever is managing the email system but users CANNOT make that change themselves. Thus, if they are using it is because that is the email they were given! It is simply not possible that they are “violating … policy” of ANY sort by using the email they were given.

        On top of this, it’s simply weird that you are telling people that the things they are experiencing are not happening.

  37. Anonymous Poster*

    I’m mean, but for #1, I’d start asking if she could also ask if anyone’s pregnant, so we can single them out and make sure they get extra food too. You have plenty of leftovers so this should not be a discussion, unless you’re like, inviting football and rugby teams over to eat too.

    For #3 he really just needs to hear that you heard him, understood him, looked into it, and this decision will not change. I’ve worked in places where if I wasn’t following up every 3 months whatever I wanted was dropped – it led to where I wasn’t getting any advancement because that manager really only did the thing the last person that talked to them asked. It wasn’t great, and maybe this person’s coming from a place like that. It doesn’t change that it’s not ok here though. Be very clear – talk to me in 6 months/1 year about it again and I’ll give you an update, but right now this is not happening and we cannot have this discussion within 6 months. If you bring it up again, it will make me question your judgment. It is, after all, turning into a larger performance issue of someone not being able to hear ‘not right now.’

    1. Filosofickle*

      On #3, agree that ensuring you’ve given a clear no is vital. I would never have been this guy (pushing for a promotion that I invented!) but when I was young I was a bit of a dog with a bone. As long as they hadn’t said no outright, I thought there was still a chance and would keep at it. I was open with bosses about this — I can be tenacious yet I will absolutely go away if you give me a firm no.

      I’m older and wiser now and can read the room better, thankfully. At the time, in my 20s, I thought I was so self-aware enlisting bosses in this way. Now I see that I was offloading my own self-regulation on them. While it helped if they could be direct, I also needed to accommodate their style and learn when to stop.

      Luckily, I was a high performer and brought in ideas that were constructive and helpful to the company (not me) so I got away with it.

  38. Washi*

    For #1, when someone keeps telling me something for no discernible reason, I’ve had good luck with warmly and curiously responding “why do you keep saying that?” It’s possible she’ll have a good answer, but she may also realize while explaining herself that she’s been getting repetitive about the gender thing and think twice about saying it next time. You could also ask “have you heard about any problems with the amount of food?”

    But if that doesn’t work, you may need to write this off as Jane’s schtick and treat the comments as white noise.

    1. Heidi*

      Agree. On the one hand, OP could just ignore Jane as long as they don’t get dinged for ignoring her somehow. But since she says this often enough to be annoying, I might say something like, “You say this a lot, but there is always food leftover, so I think we’re doing okay on the ordering. But if anyone is complaining about not having enough food, let me know.” I’d say this in a reassuring tone, as if I were really taking her concerns to heart.

      This reminds me of the Little House on the Prairie books, in which people would eat stacks of pancakes and huge amounts of food. But it’s also possible that Laura Ingalls Wilder wrote about food in such lush detail because the family was on the verge of starvation sometimes. Maybe Jane had a terrible experience with not having enough food for an event because the menfolk were hungry and they set fire to all the wagons or something.

      1. Jennifer Thneed*

        “Farmer Boy” was one long food-description. Chapters devoted to dinner, kids allowed to just grab doughnuts when they liked, yup, it was absolutely a reaction to Laura’s own growing up AND her own early married life. (There’s a mention in “On the Way Home” Laura, Almanzo, and Rose were eating plain beans every night on the journey from South Dakota to Missouri.)

        I wonder if Jane grew up in a family where the men were served first … oh, I see that MicroManagered has already beat me to that idea.

  39. Mannheim Steamroller*

    OP #2…

    Somehow my company’s IT is able to compromise for employees who ask. One particular person’s email address reflects her legal name (“Claudette”) but her user name appears as “Pepper.”

    1. AvonLady Barksdale*

      My old company’s IT department was even able to use a co-worker’s nickname in her email address and her given name in parentheses in the user name! Who knew that was even possible? /s

  40. Ranon*

    OP#2 – There is a now classic blog-post called “Falsehoods Programmers Believe About Names” which might give you a laugh even if it doesn’t move your IT department…

    1. Catsaber*

      I had never heard of that – I read it just now, it was great! This falsehood really struck me: “People have names.” As someone who has spent her last 10 years in databases, I can confirm this can indeed be a falsehood. lol

    2. InfoSec SemiPro*

      Linking to the version that has been used in Tuft’s Com Sci curriculum. This IT department is doing it wrong. They MUST have, or create, ways to use more names than they believe are “normal”.

      I refight this with my own corporate IT functions about every three years, when they again forget to allow for people to change their names in identification systems.

  41. Catsaber*

    OP #2 – I’ve been working in higher ed IT all my career. I’m quite familiar with most of the major systems that are used for both student and faculty/staff data and how they interact. There is pretty much ALWAYS a “preferred name” field, or at least a process, to get your name to display how you want. It’s just a matter of locating the right person who can make the change. When I changed my last name, it took a while to hunt them down, but I finally got it changed.

    For staff, I’d start with HR, as it’s possible they use a different database for staff information, and go from there. Ask around. I can assure there are definitely people who have had their names updated. Your request is valid.

  42. whomever*

    Re #1 I’m reminded of a legendary story at my place of work. I work at a large tech company famous for it’s food; someone in one of the other offices sent a ticket talking about how bad the food was in that particular office (compared to another large tech company also known for food where she had previously worked). The person used the line “even the gentlemen don’t like it and they are never picky” (to be fair she was obviously not a native English speaker). Needless to say this went viral inside the company and “even the gentlemen don’t like the food” has become somewhat of an in joke.

    1. Katefish*

      One of my best friends works in tech, and we constantly use this example of ridiculous tech perks: coworker receives free hamburger lunch. In review, coworker writes, “The hamburger toppings were uninspired.” My friend and I have both worked private sector jobs that couldn’t manage to make payroll and wouldn’t pay for postage (no more, thank God!), and here’s the techie; complaining about uninspired toppings on a routine free lunch at work.

  43. A tester, not a developer*

    OP1 – I’m snarky enough that I’d say something about how of course they must be starving after having spent all day plowing the back 40 and threshing the wheat – it’s tough working on a cube farm. :)

    1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      “*blink* *blink* Jane, you realize ‘cube farm’ is a euphemism, right?”

  44. LawBee*

    #2 – why not change your name legally to drop the first name? You hate it, you are presumably over 18 and therefore can do it. Don’t be shackled to a name you hate just because it’s what was given to you when you were born.

    1. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Name changes can be expensive, they’re a hassle, and they can keep being a hassle down the line for passport renewals & the like.
      An email address should be easy.

      1. we're basically gods*

        Yep, I’ve got a friend who is trying to change her last name from her abusive father’s last name to her mother’s maiden name, and even that’s an enormous pain.

    2. Acornia*

      ….because it’s expensive and a royal PITA?
      …because it would open a pandora’s box of family drama?
      …because she should not have to go through that to make IT’s life easier?
      …because legally she cannot? Some states restrict name changes for people, either because of criminal history, refusing to acknowledge trans people, etc.
      …or any other reason she chooses.
      No one should be expected to legally change their name to make things simpler for a coworker!

    3. IsbenTakesTea*

      I think that’s a valid question generally speaking, but I disagree with it in the particulars of this situation, as the OP shouldn’t have to do something so drastic to accomplish something so simple.

      I also go by my middle name and would be furious stuck explaining to people multiple times a day why my display name isn’t my actual “please call me this, I won’t respond to the other” name. However, I like my first name and why my parents gave it to me–I don’t want to change it, it’s just not how I primarily identify myself. I shouldn’t have to change such a fundamental part of my identity because someone arbitrarily decides they know better than I do.

    4. Rainy*

      Please, for the love of every god, google what it takes to change a name before you give this kind of advice.

      To change my given name, I need a court order. That means a ton of paperwork, notification requirements, court costs, going before a judge, having the judge agree and issue the court order–and I’ve heard of cases where the judge refused to issue a court order of name change because they didn’t think the petitioner should change their name or didn’t like their reason.

    5. tamarack and fireweed*

      Doesn’t change that the email system is there to serve her needs and not the other way around. Whether she changes it legally or not. Her case is only #7563 out of 100000+ of how default displays mess up the way users prefer them. Especially in an by-nature international environment like a university.

  45. bigX*

    I know it’s silly but Jane’s idea doesn’t seem wrong in theory. However, I have never been to an event where there weren’t left overs because 1) I rarely see anyone, male or female, eat to get full (being self-conscious and/or courteous is sexless & genderless), and 2) the amount of food caterer’s provide is more than enough to suit appetite levels.

    Unless there is some detail missing that would make Jane insist (ie you ran out of food at the last event or the people in the office are big eaters), just shut her down with “this worked last time, don’t worry, and also heads up making this a lady/man thing doesn’t make sense esp when we always have plenty of leftovers. why do you think we need to have more?”

  46. Brett*

    The letter is a little confusing, as it seems to be confounding two or three different parts of an email system.

    Email systems typically have three “names”
    username/userid email address:
    alias email address:
    display name: Sansa Stark [HS/WF]

    The LW mentions the display name, which is directly set by the user in every email and under complete control of the end user. In most cases, IT has no control over your display name other than setting the default preferred name on some backend protocol directory.
    (e.g. if you are using Outlook, go into your settings, then Account settings, and then change the “Full name” field. Your display name will now appear as that in every email you send without any touch from IT. In enterprise Gmail, go to myaccount, select Personal Info, then Name and you can edit your name. Enterprise Gmail also gives an option for the end user to set a preferred gender. )

    I suspect what IT has changed in the past is the default on the protocol directory, which is a trivial thing.
    But the second paragraph seems to be referring to either the username/userid email or the email address. IT is acting like they think that OP wants to change the userid email address. Changing that is _not_ trivial and can require a great deal of migration effort. It is now becoming common practice to randomly generate the userid instead of using any part of username because it makes it more difficult to crack passwords.

    What OP might want to have IT change is the alias email address (or add an additional alias).
    This is not particularly difficult to do, but it will not change the original email address that is linked to the userid. It is even possible to keep both the current alias and the new alias, so that OP can use the new alias but will continue to receive any email that goes to the old alias. Sometimes there are more rigid non-IT polices around alias emails, though, that might require going through HR or a records manager.

    1. Rusty Shackelford*

      The LW mentions the display name, which is directly set by the user in every email and under complete control of the end user. In most cases, IT has no control over your display name other than setting the default preferred name on some backend protocol directory.

      Well, here’s one bit of anecdata – mine is locked down tight. I do have a helpful “why can’t I edit?” mouseover that explains I need to go to HR or IT if I want it changed.

    2. DJ*

      Being able to change the display name isn’t true for every organization. I work at a university and you cannot change your own display name. I can go to Outlook’s settings and make the change, but it doesn’t allow me to save the change because all the info is synced from our organization. (I know because I’ve tried, but it just brings up an error message and doesn’t keep the changes, you have to actually go through the IT department to change it.) However, I’ve known coworkers who have gone through IT to change their display names and had new email addresses made with no major issue.

      1. Countess Boochie Flagrante*

        This. In fact, nowhere I’ve worked or been a student has let me change my own display name! That’s always been IT’s responsibility.

        1. tamarack and fireweed*

          In ours there’s a form in the HR system you log into. But you still have to check that it comes through in all directories and databases you expect it to…

    3. Jennifer Thneed*

      Yup, and in plenty of places, the display name will include a disambiguation note, such as “Sansa.Stark (accounting)” because there are other Sansa Starks and they get sick of getting each others’ emails.

      1. tamarack and fireweed*

        Disambiguation is a big topic, including for the email address itself. Until a few years ago, IT just imposed disambiguation via numbers. OK for me as I’m the only, but my partner who worked here in the past was less lucky and was And another co-worker ended up, which borders on unprofessional. This is exacerbated by certain alumni and ex-faculty keeping their addresses (which I’m very happy about as the address is listed on publications). But now we have an interface for proposing (and checking the availability of) other disambiguated addresses, so people can have, or even

    4. A Non E. Mouse*

      The end user absolutely cannot change display name at my org – I have to.

      That said, display name is the easiest thing for me to change, while actual account (not alias, I’ll give you a million of those if you’d like) is easy for ME and hard for the end user and most users usually opt to just keep the account but change alias and display.

      That said I’ve found over my long career that this is most usually a failure of the imagination of some people in IT.

      I’m a woman and so it’s no surprise to me that legal names might not match familiar names (have they never met a Kate that is actually a Catherine?!), or that legal names change over time, sometimes GASP more than once in a lifetime.

      Talk to HR, describe why it could be problematic for others not just you (a woman keeps her maiden name for business purposes but her legal name changes is one I can think of that would be remarkably discriminatory if they tried to enforce “legal name”, since her maiden name remains her to use as well), and keep up the good fight!

      1. Observer*

        I’d say using that might be more useful that pointing out the issue this could present to trans people. Remember, we’re talking about people who won’t make any change unless they HAVE to and that often means “We are LEGALLY REQUIRED to.” In most jurisdictions in the US, that doesn’t apply to trans people. But stuff that has a clear discriminatory effect on women is a far more clear issue and it’s going to be very hard to argue that a policy that has a clear negative effect on people of one gender is legally ok.

  47. Amber Rose*

    The difference in men’s and women’s caloric needs, per day on average, is more or less the equivalent of a slice of pizza. A few hundred calories. And that’s per day, not per meal. :/

    We ordered pizza yesterday and just assumed that everyone would eat three pieces, because we definitely have people who would have one, and people who would happily eat all the leftovers. =P

    1. Elspeth Mcgillicuddy*

      I was curious, so I looked up some numbers. Looking at health dot gov’s numbers, calorie need vary about 600 calories by gender, depending of course on age and activity level. Divide by three meals a day and some snacks, that would be an extra 150 calories or so you should be feeding the guys each meal. Obviously in the real world it doesn’t quite work that way, but dudes do need to eat more on average.

      1. Observer*

        That actually IS a lot less than a slice of pizza, even assuming no toppings, etc. It’s also less than most deserts, and a lot of other main dishes.

      2. Observer*

        The first problem is that those numbers are way too broad – no control for any the myriad issues that affect calorie needs. Secondly, even if age gender and three VERY broad levels of activity were sufficient to give you a really good handle on what you need, it STILL doesn’t add up. The reason is that order based ONLY on gender means that you are leaving out the other 2 extremely important factors.

        The only time gender is likely to make a difference for crowds is if you that the group is extremely homogeneous – all the same age and all at the same level of activity. If any company really looks that way, then they really DO have some significant problems.

  48. Four lights*

    #1 All I can think about is when my boss was only eating salad because he was on a loose weight bet, while I was ordering the biggest dish because I was pregnant.

  49. TootsNYC*

    stop asking, as this has all been explained multiple times and now he is just coming off as being pushy

    I think this isn’t the worst thing to say.
    I might use slightly more professional wording at the end (“you are damaging your reputation because you come across as unable to understand and unwilling to abide by the company’s decision.”)

    And I would also say: “This promotion is not going to happen here. Given that it seems pretty important to you, have you considered looking into opportunities for growth elsewhere? Sometimes you absolutely do need to move out in order to move up.”

  50. Shazzer*

    I once had a super cheapskate boss that was also always on a diet. It was one of those gimmicky “cookie” diets, where two cookies supposedly provided all the nutrients needed for some absurdly small amount of calories. He was always in a foul mood (I was once berated at length for something that happened before I started working there) and would regularly schedule meetings at lunchtime as a distraction for himself. Once, his boss persuaded him to provide food at these meetings as it was disruptive to have people either eating at their desks or leaving the office later in the afternoon. So Boss ordered one pizza for about 12 – 15 people. And one clueless person on the team actually helped himself to two slices!

  51. DCGirl*

    To LW2, I have a double first name (think Mary Louise, for example). My middle name is something else altogether. I had one job where I had to fight tooth and nail with IT and HR to get both halves listed in the email directory. Both entities insisted that they would only list an employee’s “legal name.” I asked them if they then thought that my birth certificate, driver’s license, passport, Social Security card, etc. were somehow not legal.

    Keep up the good fight.

    1. tamarack and fireweed*

      As have a whole lot of Korean people. Except that they’d *like* to have the given name displayed after the surname…

  52. Kriss*

    OP1–I ordered catering for an all day meeting that included breakfast, lunch, snacks, & drinks throughout the day

    I was pretty much on point except for lunch when we ran out of some of the food before everyone got through the line. There was enough for everyone to have lunch but not for everyone to have everything

    The caterer’s advice for future orders:
    I told him 200 & he assumed equal numbers of men & women but it was more like 150 men & 50 women so he recommended that I for future orders that I not only include the fact that there would be significantly more men than women but that I also let them know that these were construction guys & not office guys because men eat more than women & laborers eat more than office people

    I’ve followed that advice since then & have never run into problems again

    Based on my experience, I don’t think Jane was entirely wrong on what she said to OP. I do agree that it is important to know who you are planning for & to take past history into consideration & Jane may very well have been doing that by telling OP to “make sure she orders enough food for the men”

    1. Quill*

      Eh, I’d say that while activity level is a genuine concern, basing food on gender is never going to work out properly and your caterer is probably doing something weird in terms of *reducing* the volume because of the number of women there.

      Also, in my personal experience women eat less in gender mixed groups due to social pressure: every place where I was a lab tech and doing a lot more physically and on my feet, the techs were all women, even relatively short/small women, and ate like hyenas. If you can’t put away 70% of a chicken nacho pizza, three helpings of cranberry salad, and a bunch of fried mushrooms, you won’t survive being on your feet for 10 hours during sample prep day. (It probably helped that I was 23 and that lunch was the only time I got to sit down all day.)

      In contrast, when I went out with my work group (50/50 gender split) at another job there were leftovers – when I went to the all ladies’ networking luncheon we devoured everything and split dessert :)

      1. Burts Knees*

        It reminds me a bit of playing touch football in high school PE. When it was mixed gender, the girls tended to sit on the side lines and not really participate that much as the boys ran around. When they split it and it was an all girls game, it was one of the more intense experiences of my entire life and someone ended up with a concussion because it turned into a game of full on tackle ball. I don’t think things should be that way, but its a definite trend. I was laughing a bit at someone using an example of the bachelor vs sunday football food ordering because in my experience a group of women watching reality tv all together will inhale enough calories to feed a small country.

  53. Kaaaaaren*

    OP #1 — This would bother me too, as it feeds (no pun intended) into the notion that women are (or should be) all small, dainty, and forever watching their weight/dieting, while the big, manly Office He-Men (who also sit at desks all day) need and are entitled to eat their fill. As much as I HATE calling people out about things at work, I wouldn’t be able to resist saying something like, “And who knows, maybe a few of the woman aren’t dieting and want to eat, too!” with an eye roll.

  54. Roscoe*

    #1 . I’m not surprised this bothers people. But it does make sense. Put it this way, I have a couple I hang out with a lot. They also really enjoy hosting people for events. Its not uncommon that they will host football on Sunday followed by The Bachelor on Monday. Unsurprisingly, the 2 things are skewed in favor of one gender or the other. Of course there are women there for football, and there will also be guys there for the Bachelor, but it is definitely skewed. To act like they aren’t going to change up the amount and type of food they get, even if they have the same number each time, is a bit naive. They absolutely will get more food when more guys are coming. I know people don’t like to acknowledge even general trends that happen with gender, but we can’t ignore that. Hell, I’d be even a lot of the people upset with this practice do it in some ways when they are hosting events at their home.

    1. Buffy*

      Curious – are they serving the exact same types of food at each event? Because that could be skewing the food intake more than the gender. I’ve noticed there is a tendency to gender menus and serve primarily serve women food that is best described as rabbit food (salads, cut up fruit, cut up veggies, etc) but for men, it’s heartier fare like sliders, meatballs, nachos, etc. In other words, tasty food for men, crap, bird food for women. Also, are the crowds comparable? Sunday football is more a group event than watching The Bachelor. I know tons of people who will gather together in large groups to watch sporting events but I don’t know of any large group that gets together to watch a reality TV show. Sure, there’s the occasional small group but it’s never anything close to the size of a sporting event. Third thing that can be skewing the amount of food eaten is the difference between what we do on a weekend and what we do on weekdays. I can and will eat like a starved hog on the weekend but on a week night, I have an earlier bed time so I’m not likely to eat as much. So to automatically base your portions and food selections on gender is unfair to everyone. You have to look at a number of variables, not just men versus women. Men don’t automatically eat more than women. Women aren’t always dieting. Women don’t always want chicken or fish or salads. Men don’t always want red meat and potatoes.

  55. TotesMaGoats*

    #2-This is BS. Go over and above IT. It’s not their call. Involve HR. If they won’t do it for you, then they won’t for students. That’s crap. We have a new faculty from China and wants her email to be “Susie@university.ed” not her chinese name. Guess what? Her email starts with susie. Most colleges have already changed this process because not doing is stupid and unethical…and opens you up for discrimination complaints.

  56. Dust Bunny*

    #1 my workplace usually does boxed lunches for catered events, so you get a sandwich, apple, chips, cookie, whatever, and if you want more, you get it yourself later. Unless somebody else will give you something they don’t want. But it’s enough for most people for the duration of the event and it helps control how much people take.

  57. Mill Miker*

    I’m pretty sure I’ve been the employee in #3 before, except:

    • I was pushing for a position most companies of the size we had just grown to relied on (even if my boss thought I was making it up)
    • The position I *was* in was never one I had wanted, and it was 90% cleaning up the issues caused by not having anyone doing the job I *did* want
    • I “repeatedly” brought it up at regularly scheduled meetings about my career progression at the company, as an alternative to the suggestion to take my career further off-track into the work I couldn’t stand.
    • They were clearly worried I would leave if they actually said “No”, and so I was getting a lot of vague answers and little shots of hope

    In the end I quit anyway, because the work I was doing was not at all in line with my own career goals, and *that* is when they finally tried to get me to freelance doing some work more in-line with my own goals.

    So LW3, I have no idea what kind of situation you’re in with your employee, but please make sure the “no” has been very clearly communicated, even if you’re worried they’ll quit over it. If they really don’t like the role they’re in, they’re going to quit sooner-or-later anyway.

  58. DrinkingStraw*

    OP #2, their refusal to use a person’s preferred name may be a title IX violation. At my institution we have a name change policy and it’s my understanding it’s to be inclusive (because that’s the right thing to do and also because it’s a Title IX violation to voluntarily misgender someone which includes their name and preferred pronouns as well.

  59. Shay*

    1. Jane is gender-biased (and probably in more ways than just this). My husband and I eat at a restaurant and the food runners make a similar mistake (a LOT). Food arrives and salad lands in front of me and pasta lands in front of my husband, I hand Husband his salad and take my pasta – food arrives and fish lands in front of me and prime rib lands in front of my husband, I hand Husband his fish and take my prime rib. It is so silly … and slightly annoying.

    1. Shoes On My Cat*

      This!!! And if only one dessert is ordered, even if i make eye contact to give the order, he gets the cake and i get the extra fork ‘so i can try a bite’ WTF! GIMME MY CAKE

    2. Slartibartfast*

      The servers who place the bill in the middle of the table and give my credit card back to me instead of to my husband get a bigger tip too.

  60. admin amber*

    From experience I have learned to order food for mixed groups of eating habits and gender by offering a variety but don’t go overboard with any one thing. I make sure to have enough sandwiches, salad, fresh fruit/vegetables and of course cookies and candy for the sweet tooths. People feel like they can mix and match to suit them rather than forcing only certain foods upon everyone. It has worked well for my company’s needs.

  61. SusanIvanova*

    #2: It might help to have a co-worker file the request. I had a co-worker whose name changed from something with several long Germanic consonant clusters to a much simpler name. For most things, like email, the alias to her new name worked fine, but IT would not change the name of her actual account, and that was the only name that the source code control system accepted.

    One day I noticed a new category in the bug tracking: “affects performance”. So I filed a new issue: “When Jen reviews my code I have to mark her as the reviewer. Having it bounce because I can’t remember that she used to be Ethelgertrude, or how to spell it, is a performance hit for me and delays getting vitally needed changes into the system. Please change to Jen.”

    Within a few days she was Jen everywhere.

  62. Burts Knees*

    I used to spend a lot of time ordering food at a previous job, and I actually usually found age to be a more accurate predictor of how much people ate. Entry level workers under 26 or under who were stoked about the free food would generally eat like it was their last meal, and people who had been around the block a few times and were trying to be more health conscious as they aged and were a lot more likely to go the rabbit food route. I work in a very image conscious industry for both men and women, so healthy salad eating was much less divided along gender lines.

  63. Koala dreams*

    #1 I also find the gender thing very old-fashioned. Nowadays I often hear the rule that teenagers need twice the food that every body else needs. I wonder what rule there will be in the future?

    It also reminds me of the saying in my family, that if you make less food, there will be leftovers, and if you make more food there will be nothing left. Food portions are weird, aren’t they?

    #2 This reminds me of those government forms in Sweden where you are supposed to underline which one of your given names you go by. If IT worked like that it would solve your problem, but still make problems for the majority of the commenters above.

  64. CatMom*

    Nothing helpful to add, only that OP #2, as a fellow lifelong middle name user, I FEEL YOU. Even down to the details of having a “Catholic” first name (I am Jewish). Adding on to that, I’m non-binary, and while my middle name is gender neutral, my first name is very feminine and it makes me feel like crawling out of my skin.

    Sadly, I have no advice beyond what Allison has offered; only commiseration. Good luck and let us know how it goes.

  65. John Thurman*

    #4 – Remember the letter where the applicant wanted to send an invoice? You can’t do that obviously but I would straight up ask for compensation.

    “I’m sure it wasn’t your intention to mislead me, but I was shocked to hear that the position doesn’t exist at this point. I spent (X) hours in good faith and seeing as the company made a mistake, I would like to request ($).”

    You can’t burn a bridge that’s already on fire, right?

  66. LAP*

    “You better order a lot of food for the hungry men attending”

    It is a silly grandmotherly comment, but at the same time I worked in catering for 10 years and I began to notice patterns… It’s not like men necessarily need more food than women, it’s that they are slightly more likely to treat a catered work event like a group of bears descending on a campsite. Bears that skipped breakfast because “the campsite (work event) will have free food”. Of course, not all men are like that and women can be ravenous too. But like I said you notice patterns. Which is why it’s a silly comment to make because catering guidelines are based on averages and you don’t need to resort to generalizations to predict it.

  67. nonameplease*

    #2 reminds me of this: No idea if it was real …

    Dear Helpdesk,
    Thank you for creating my account so fast.
    Though it is very funny, but how could I sell our products with an email address as
    Please change it ASAP.
    Thank you in advance.
    Bill Tchavlovsky

    Dr. Mr Tchavlovsky
    Unfortunately account names are generated from your initials, we cannot change it.
    You can believe me.
    Ajani Erkson

  68. nora*

    Many years ago I temped at a US office which HQ was in Europe. I had a coworker who went by his middle name and it literally took him the entire 11 months I worked there to convince IT to change his email address. He was not happy.

    Meanwhile I have a friend who works in IT for a Major Bank and his first name, Brian, was misspelled as Brain when his email address was set up. He loves it. He petitioned *not* to fix the mistake. Sadly he lost.

    1. Rainy*

      I had an employee once whose parents misspelled his name (Brian) on his SS application card (Brain).

  69. Shoes On My Cat*