Keith Mann has been credited with co-founding the unconventional online marketplace Witchsy, which totaled $200,000 in sales in its first year. There's just one problem: Keith Mann doesn't exist. He's an invention of Witchsy's actual co-founders, Penelope Gazin and Kate Dwyer, who say they were constantly shrugged off by male graphic designers and web developers while trying to get their business afloat. They'd receive "cold" email responses after days of waiting and none would address them by name, Dwyer tells the BBC. One respondent actually referred to them as "girls," while others referenced their "cute hobby," per Fast Company. "No one took us seriously," Dwyer tells Quartz. Then the pair began signing emails with a man's name.
Suddenly, the Los Angeles-based artists were receiving speedy responses with status updates and none of the condescension they'd seen before. Not only that, but developers would ask "if there was anything else that Keith needed help with," Dwyer tells Fast Company. "It was like night and day." Dwyer attributes the change to sexism, noting a sense of comfort in dealing with a man in a male-dominated tech industry is "clearly just part of this world that we're in right now." That's not to say she's content with it. "It's unfortunate that we had to invent Keith to make progress," but he's now "on vacation," she tells the BBC. With success and a supportive male coder on the Witchsy team, her hope now is "for a change in people's attitudes." (This woman got revenge on her sexist boss.)