To state some background: I recently moved internally in the company I work for. I've been in this team for two weeks now and everything was fine until yesterday. A female co-worker, let's call her Anna, posted in the intranet that she dislikes the usage of the word "man-day" because she excludes herself.

I just commented:

And then the next one is discriminated because he does not identify himself as a person. I find this gender mania just massively annoying and I wonder sometimes why you always want to see a discrimination of your own sex in everything. I can not understand it, to be honest

For me, this was just a different opinion because my point of view is that I don't care about someone's gender at all. However, in the daily (working as a developer in a SCRUM team) it was planned that I should pair with her that day what she then refused due to my comment.

I cannot understand it because my opinion and the work is something different. Did I really do something wrong here?

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    " my opinion and the work is something different". Hmm. So suppose one day you sit down to pair with someone and they say "I think {people of your ethnic background} are all useless idiots and the company shouldn't employ any of them". Happy to carry on working with this person? After all, it's 'just a different opinion'...
    – AakashM
    Mar 28, 2019 at 9:40
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    What did you reply when she refused to work with you? Did you take it up with anyone? I'm afraid this falls into those impossible categories where although it's ridiculous that she can say what she said and get away with it but you can't say anything cause it will just give her a stepping stone to further pursue this. But in all fairness, these people should be ignored (don't feed the trolls comes to mind).
    – Xander
    Mar 28, 2019 at 9:57
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    @usselite glad we agree that 'just saying my opinion' isn't a defence.
    – AakashM
    Mar 28, 2019 at 10:29
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    I'm not sure what bad thing would happen in your company if they started referring to "developer-days", or "designer-days", or "work-days", instead of "man-days". Mar 28, 2019 at 10:57
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    @jesse - it's a traditional method of estimating effort in projects e.g. this task requires 4 man-days of effort. Not as commonly used these days. Mar 28, 2019 at 13:59

4 Answers 4


Appending to Twyxz answer, you should not only not have answered at all. Also, they way you answered is highly insulting in several ways:

And then the next one is discriminated because he does not identify himself as a person

She did not say this and you are trying to undermine her with some argument she did not even make. Compare it to this: You ask your boss for a $10 salary increase. He/she then responds with "oh, and then the next one comes along and wants $1,000,000 more". Would you find this argument fair?

I find this gender mania just massively annoying

It is your personal opinion that you find something annoying. Calling it "gender mania" is already a judgment on its own. Assuming you are in a workplace (like IT) were you are very likely to have a huge gender imbalance it is also simply incorrect. You might not share this opinion, but gender issues are still an issue til today.

why you always want to see a discrimination of your own sex in everything

You work there for two weeks. It is highly unlikely you could have even had the chance to observe this behaviour "always" and "in everything". Hence, your statement is in fact incorrect.

Summing up, in these few sentences you not share an opinion, you are highly insulting. This is unprofessional and you should stop that immediately. Also, you should apologize to your coworker.

Further, your whole argument is basically pointless. You might not agree with this, but there is a simple solution to call it "person-days" instead of "man-days". There really is no difference to you and your coworker would feel better. So what is the downside? Pick your battles.

  • @fireshark519 Depending on location, women are still discriminated against in workplaces. It's often less pronounced than it's made out to be by many groups on the internet (which doesn't help their cause), but measurably true. I'm not sure about the state of gender equality in Germany, though.
    – DonFusili
    Mar 28, 2019 at 9:58
  • @DonFusili basing on this actual research of "the world bank" IBRD, only 6 states in the world have no "issue" today, Germany is not one of this 6 Mar 28, 2019 at 10:40
  • @Allerleirauh I know the report that is based on, which only looks at which countries have enshrined gender equality in law. There's no 1-to-1 map of de jure equality and de facto equality (in both ways: there are states in the US that are measurably fully equal in both opportunities and salaries, but don't have laws mandating that equality and there are countries where equality is mandated 100% but measurements show that the laws are broken too often to be left to chance)
    – DonFusili
    Mar 28, 2019 at 10:44
  • @Allerleirauh Which is not a defense of the countries that aren't one of the 6: de jure equality is important, but not particularly relevant to a specific, practical issue such as in this question.
    – DonFusili
    Mar 28, 2019 at 10:46
  • I answered only your indirect question " I'm not sure about the state of gender equality in Germany, though" ;) Mar 28, 2019 at 10:48

Sometimes opinion should not be expressed but kept to yourself. This is one of those times. Regardless of your opinion, you should've seen that this was going to cause upset simply by the fact she was annoyed at man-day.

I cannot understand it because my opinion and the work is something different.

Exactly. So keep them seperate.

Did I really do something wrong here?

That is also down to opinion. Your judgement was wrong in commenting, you should apologise and say that you did not mean to offend Anna nor do you want this to affect your relationship and in future stay away from commenting on such things.

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    So should Anna have posted her opinion in the first place? As your first line points out perhaps she should have kept it to herself... Her action opened the can of worms...
    – Solar Mike
    Mar 28, 2019 at 9:22
  • @SolarMike You're right, she was also wrong and maybe OP was correct with his thoughts but it's pointless creating workplace tension when it could easily be avoided.
    – Twyxz
    Mar 28, 2019 at 9:23
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    So Anna created the workplace tension and others get to suffer that in silence...
    – Solar Mike
    Mar 28, 2019 at 9:25
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    @SolarMike You would leave that for managers or HR to handle. This isn't something to be arguing over when potentially you would lose your job.
    – Twyxz
    Mar 28, 2019 at 9:26
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    @SolarMike there is a middle ground between "suffer in silence" and "dismiss Anna's opinion as 'massively annoying'", as the OP did. Mar 28, 2019 at 10:09

Politely disagreeing with the other answers (Twyxz and dirkk).

You are safer keeping politics (in this case gender politics) out of the office, yes.

The reality is that she brought it up and you gave your opinion on the matter.

I do agree you could have done this better, but, "hindsight is 20/20".

If you had gone with something more along the lines of

"Sorry to disagree, but I don't think the intention of man-day is to discriminate you. Man-day, where the "man" comes from human just refers to the amount of work a person can perform, which is the definition on the dictionary. I understand your point, I just don't agree this is something that needs changing"

Remember, having an opinion is ok. Voicing your opinion is ok. Being a moron when doing so, isn't.

Freedom of speech should be there to protect you to voice your opinion, so you can take one of the 2 options.

1 - don't bring politics to the office;

2 - Voice your opinion, but make sure it is well-explained.

Trigger warning: Voicing your opinion, even if done well, might still trigger people.

  • 6
    Out of curiosity, have you ever heard the term "mansplaining"? No reason. Mar 28, 2019 at 9:21
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    OK, let me put it another way. Can you imagine "Anna" saying, "oh, thank you, I had no idea of the dictionary definition of the term 'man-hour', but now you've enlightened me and I have completely changed my mind!"? I can't. You are assuming that the problem is her feeble understanding, and if only you could help her weak and fragile female mind grasp the complexities of the topic she would get over it. This is a false assumption, the height of arrogance, and a textbook example of mansplaining. Mar 28, 2019 at 9:54
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    If find it especially hilarous that you define it as "work a person can perform" yet refuse to simply name it "person-day", which would make Anna happy and cause no harm to others and would actually fit your definition. Some people really go out of their way to cause problems.
    – dirkk
    Mar 28, 2019 at 10:00
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    @BittermanAndy Whilst the answer is bad and mansplaining exists, the answer is not mansplaining, and acting as if it is is disingenuous given the reasoning in the answer. Nowhere did fireshark519 assume that the reasoning given would change Anna's opinion, nor that it should. The full reasoning, however wrong, starts with the assumption that anyone should be able to state any opinion to anyone and only takes that as assumptions. Your attack doesn't help the cause of gender equality in the slightest, on the contrary.
    – DonFusili
    Mar 28, 2019 at 10:12
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    @dirkk about 80 percent of the English language is Latin based. One of the simple grammar rules states that "when members of both genders are present, the way to direct to them is by using the male form" In the case of saying something like "teachers", in latin based languages there is a different word for female teacher and male teacher, if you are talking to a group of teachers with both genders you use the male form, if there are only females you use the plural female form. Now, based on this, what I am saying is that you are finding grammar offensive, when it is just grammar. Mar 28, 2019 at 10:26

I think that when you give your opinion on things you should expect that some people would react. She gave hers about "man days" thus she should have expected a reaction.

The problem is that she started it : by saying that she feels excluded because of "man-day" she gives her opinion so I see nothing wrong with giving yours. I understand that in the workplace you should be diplomatic but if it means to let some people express their opinions and refrain yourself to express yours because you know they cannot take criticism then it's not a healthy practice. When you expose your opinion you should expect some criticism (specially when it is something as ridiculous as feeling excluded for the term "man days" which is a standard in the industry).

But on the other side you went a bit rough on her so I think that you should have an open discussion with her so she can tell you what she feels and what you feel in order to work things out.

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    The final paragraph would be a good answer, sadly the second paragraph isn't. The problem in this situation is not that people have different opinions - it's what they do about it and how they behave. Dismissing other people's opinions as "ridiculous" as you do, or "massively annoying" like the OP does, is not constructive - of course "Anna" took offence. An open discussion, however, would be perfectly reasonable. Mar 28, 2019 at 10:07
  • @BittermanAndy as long as the discussion goes within the parameters that Anna would put in place. if he tried to explain his point of view, then discussion is no longer welcomed as this is mansplainning.... Apr 3, 2019 at 8:27
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    You came back to this six days later just to make a cheap jibe because you didn't like my comment on your answer? Wow. For what it's worth, there are ways to engage with people that don't involve the extremes of "conforming to paramaters" or mansplaining. You just need to act like a reasonable adult and have an actual discussion. Apr 3, 2019 at 9:46