When You Call a Business, Does It Matter If a Man or a Woman Answers?

I’m asking this out of curiosity and a possible prelude to a Pit rant. When you call a business to do business with them, talk to some specific person who works there, or for any reason, after you get through the inevitable menu, does it matter if the person who picks up the phone is a man or a woman? I’m talking about the generic receptionist-type person-who-answers-the-phone.

The reason I’m asking is it looks like I’m working for another employer who wants only women to answer the phone. This isn’t the first time I’ve come across this. I wonder if it does make that big a difference to people if a man answers the phone instead of a woman and how it would affect their opinions of the business.
As for me, I’m an IT geek, a programmer, to be precise, raised by an engineer. I don’t care who answers the phone, so long as he or she has some idea what he or she’s doing.


You know, I never really thought of it until you asked this question. I hate to admit to it but, yes, I actually do prefer a woman. It just happened today actually. I had to call Harrods of London a few times to ask about a blazer I purchased a few weeks ago. The first time a woman answered and explained that the person I needed to talk to wasnt there. She was very friendly sounding and I remained calm. I called again later and had a man answer. He explained that the person I needed still wasnt in yet. I went straight into “find me a manager mode!” Of course the manager isnt in today! Anyways, I find I have a lot more patience for a woman.

I don’t really care but if I had my way whenever I phoned anywhere I would be answered by a woman with an Irish brogue. Failing that there are soft spoken Kiwi women from somewhere (I can’t tell one accent from another) who have the same soothing effect.

As far as employers desires go, I recall seeing a documentary about air disasters years ago. Amongst other things they mentioned that recorded warning messages are usually delivered by a female voice because research shows that people are more receptive, and comprehend more if a message is delivered by a calm female voice.

I deal with this often and I would say that a female is more advantagious as a gatekeeper. It seems like men are more willing to take things into their own hands and let a call through, while women are more by the book, and if the boss is not to be disturbed, the boss will not be disturbed.

Certainly not universal, but more often then not.

I’ve never thought about it.
Can’t say I care either way as long as the converstaion ends in a satisfactory manner.

The gender of the person answering the phone is much less important to me than the ability to speak and comprehend English.

It doesn’t matter to me whether a man or woman answers, though I find that around here women answer more often. What impresses me is certain accents. In rough order: English/Scottish/Irish; French; everything else including generic Southern Ontario. :slight_smile:

The gender doesn’t matter, but if I’m talking to the gatekeeper, I want to know that, so I don’t waste time and detail on somebody who can’t help.

I sure do hate it when the phone is answered by something which is neither of the above…

Isn’t that fundamentally illegal? At best, it seems to dance along a skinny rail with a risk of falling off into illegal corporate behavior on either side of the plank:

a) We have an open position for which we’re hiring people. Said position entails answering the phone. We’re only going to hire a female, bypassing fully qualified male applicants.

b) Among our employees, only the females get called upon to engage in the task of answering the phone. The male employees are exempt from this annoying activity, which interrupts other activities, and which tends to convert the female employees into assistants to the males insofar as they take messages for them and route their calls, etc.
To answer your question, no, I have no preference w/regards to the gender of the person who answers then phone when I place a call.

For a receptionist, I have no preference. For a customer service representative for a company with which I have screwed up or want a favor (like a late bill or to lower a finance charge), I prefer a woman - I can usually manipulate them via sympathy a little better. (The baby is excellent at wailing on cue to get them to ask me about my baby. From there on, it’s gravy time.) For IT or computer help, I prefer a man, because we can flirt over the phone while waiting for the damn compunter to boot up again.

I think **AHunter3 ** has got it. This is discrimination one way or the other.

There are people really good on the phone, both male and female. And the overall job is not such major rocket science that both men and women can’t be trained and incented to do it in the way that best serves the business.

If a company does a lot of business with men, sometimes the receptionist is essentially paid to flirt with them to help business. Sad but true. If there is also walk in traffic, they are expected to be eye candy as well. Also, there is a tendency to dump office-mom tasks like making coffee, cleaning the microwave, picking up dry cleaning and buying gifts for the boss’s wife on these folks. Some women are probably less likely to protest that. Also, women may be more likely to work for the peanuts most receptionists earn.

At the OB/Gyn I have to say I might slightly prefer a woman answering the phone, but if it were a man, I’d have to say to myself he’s probably heard it all already, and get over it.

I’ve spent many years working various reception jobs (which Harriet nailed the description of). I have no preference as to the gender of whoever picks up the phone, but I am usually surprised if the person is male. But as FatBaldGuy said, who cares if they’re male or female, as long as they’re coherent.

I have a friend who works for a company like this. Only women are allowed to answer the phone, unless they’re on the factory floor, then it’s men.

So, even though she’s 1. new 2. extremely busy and 3. better at her job than most of the people that work there, she’s the one that has to answer the phones when the regular receptionist is off. She can’t continue her regular work and answer the phones because of the way the office is set up, and then she gets reprimanded when her work isn’t on time.

It’s silly, in a word.

I don’t have a preference, but there are times when I am surprised to have a man answer the phone - like the first time I got a male phone company operator (my first thought: how odd! My second: so this job pays enough to hire men now?) I also recently switched hair salons and was surprised to hear a man who sounded like Antonio Banderas answer. How odd, a guy answering the phone at a salon? On the other hand, though, perhaps this was calculated - I’m sure there are plenty of women who enjoy talking to “Antonio” … unless they need to make an appointment for a Brazilian bikini wax or something …

Don’t care.

I must ask, and this is important

Is the woman who answers really, really hot?

I don’t care who answers the phone, as long as (to echo others) I can understand what they’re saying, and get my business concluded as quickly as possible.

However on the other side of the coin, however, it really gets on my tits when I answer a call and people assume I’m just the receptionist and ask me to “Put me through to the technical support please, love”, just because I’m a chick.

Honestly I make so many business-related calls a day I don’t have the time to worry about the gender of the receptionist. I ask that they speak in a manner that I can understand, are as prompt and polite as possible, and aside from that I can’t be bothered with them.

I don’t care, except when I call a cathouse, i’d prefer that a woman answers. :smiley: