I was sitting in a meeting with a VP of Technology the other day, preparing to meet with her company’s president. She watched me pull out my paper calendar and exclaimed, “Dude! You have got to get a BlackBerry!” Now, this person is in her 40’s so she’s a Gen X-er. So this wasn’t a comment uttered by someone fresh out of college. This isn’t the first time I’ve heard women being referred to as “dude”. To wit:
When picking up my son from daycare one day, his college-aged teacher exclaimed “Dude, that’s a really cute purse!” I looked around and didn’t see any other adults in the vicinity, and I don’t usually hear men complimenting each others’ handbags, so I could only conclude she was addressing me. My reaction was part pride (“hey, she thinks I’m a ‘dude’…that means I’m somewhat with it) and part old fart matron (“Geez, young people today—no respect!”)
Overhead wafting from a cubicle in a corporate workplace… “Liz” addressing “Katherine”– “Dude, you have got to read this email. It’s hysterical!”
So is the use of the word dude to address women commonplace in your workplace? And if it is commonplace, what are the boundaries for its use? Should only peers address each other this way? What about supervisors and direct reports? Is this a generational issue and if so, in what way?
I’d love to hear your thoughts.