TDLR: I worked on a project at Microsoft to bring pronouns to user profiles in Microsoft Office / Microsoft 365.
If you are an admin, you can find out how to enable pronouns in your organisation’s Admin Center.
If you are a user, you can find out how to put your pronouns on your profile.
Rewind the clock to mid-2019, myself and Margrete Sævareid at Microsoft Development Center Norway slowly started working on a new project; to allow users to add their pronouns to their Microsoft Office profile.
At that time, the project was “unfunded” and so our job was to work around our day-to-day tasks and gather the necessary research and make the required presentations to the right people to get the project funded.
A short time later, in February 2020, we were both sat in the offices of Microsoft Research New England ready to undertake some fundamental research with esteemed researcher Mary L. Gray and the team.
It’s been 3 years since the trip to Boston, but Microsoft have recently announced and listed pronouns as being something you can add to your Microsoft 365 profile.
Since the inception of the project, there have been many people working on the addition of pronouns to the product suite – and I definitely lost track of who was involved throughout the process after moving teams within Microsoft and leaving this project behind towards the end of 2020.
So, whilst I was not part of the team that finally got to launch the feature to the world, I feel so grateful that I was able to lay the foundations for this project. It was definitely a passion project of mine from day one, I was sad to move off the work, and I’m very excited to see how it develops.
There’s a lot that I would love to share about the process behind the initial stages of this work, but I’m not sure what I’m allowed to say.
I truly hope that with the new capabilities you feel like you are better represented at school or work – whether you are transgender, non-binary, or were simply blessed with a name that people commonly misgender.