Gender Bias Over the Phone

How the patriarchy impedes a woman’s right to be heard

Leigh Green
7 min readMar 29, 2020


Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

I was determined to start this year on solid footing. As a freelancer going back to school it was important for me to stay on top of my schedule. So, I chose my classes and ensured my aid package well before the semester began. Then, at the last minute, all my funding was placed on hold. This was due to a new policy at New York University that required an additional loan literacy test; which, try as I may, I was unable to access through the link provided to me.

The solution seemed simple, I would call the office, explain, and be sent a functional link. Unfortunately, getting this new link proved more difficult than I’d imagined.

I spent the last three weeks before classes began in a frenzy of redirected phone calls, attempting to navigate the issue. Every call went more or less the same. I’d explain my issue, fully and carefully, only to be told the same thing over and over again:

We are sorry to hear you’re experiencing difficulty, however it’s become clear that the issue is due to your own error. Maybe try a new computer?

Every single interaction ended in the person on the other line assuming that I was the issue.

I felt helpless. Then, as I began receiving emails from the bursar’s office stating that I was to be de-enrolled from the classes that I’d fought to secure, I got mad. In my last conversation with the financial aid office I said enough. I demanded that the person assisting me transfer the call to someone better equipped, or more motivated, to help me.

I was then connected to an academic counselor who heard me out and quickly emailed me a functional link that allowed me to resolve the issue. Three minutes later I’d finished the literacy test and, just like that, an issue that had threatened to suspend my degree by a full semester disappeared.

The swell of relief that washed over me was immediately overcome by a wave of guilt and confusion. Why had this process been so difficult? Had I been too plaintive? Or unclear? What had made it so easy for all these people to dismiss me so thoroughly? Why was it only when after I lost my temper that someone came to my aid?



Leigh Green

Freelance Editor | Essayist | Pronouns: she/they