Mr 16 Years has now stopped talking to the Project Manager (in project meetings! He just sort of chirps out a short answer and then later complains to Boss about Project Manager. ). And he's gone back to ignoring the Senior Analyst. I've gotten one more sucking-lemons unavoidable hello out of him.
The only person even remotely related to the project he's still talking to is our senior solutions architect, whom Project Manager has taken to dragging into project meetings just so some sort of discussion will take place. I suspect the second he makes a critical remark, he's also going onto the silent ignore list. Next week I get to try participate in the meetings as well to get some kind of idea of how this solution is going to be designed. <sigh> This is gonna be a fuuuuuuuuuuuun project.
And the saga drags on.
My direct manager pointed out to me that he himself has noticed that any feedback coming from a female is badly received by Mr 16 Years. It doesn't matter how I phrase the suggestion, it's like he has a hundred toes and I'm stepping on every single one of them everytime I open my mouth. I've tried to be as polite and gentle as possible when suggesting improvements, but they all get a snippy response (or silence like I never spoke at all), so I went to our direct manager and said "How do I handle this? How do I phrase things? How can I make suggestions without making him angry?". Direct manager said "I don't want to you change a single iota of how you usually do things. Make your suggestions exactly as you would to any other coworker, and if he gets upset about it and escelates to me, I'll deal with it. These are his issues and his problems and he needs to learn to handle them. Also, email the suggestions and CC me in all the email comms and let's see how it goes." I did mention the "I've been doing it this way for 16 years" comment to direct manager as an example of the kinds of responses a previous suggestion could result in, and he looked shocked.
I suggested (for the good of the project) that maybe they should hand the project over to another (male) developer if it would make things flow more smoothly with Mr 16 Years. Direct manager immediately shot that down and said "Carry on doing what you would do with any other coworker, and don't worry, he's going to be moved off this and onto other projects soon. Hang in there, do your usual good job and just ignore his attitude problems".
I finally figured out that it's not a personal thing per se (it's not that he dislikes me for being me specifically), it that he feels threatened by any self-confident woman who dares criticise his work at not being perfect. He takes any criticism from anyone hard, but it's goes nuclear when it comes from a strong woman. Mr 16 Years is fine with the couple of women in the office who are shyer and less self-confident and who make deferential suggestions in a tone that suggests "Silly me, what do I know", but if you're female and you come right out and say plainly "There's a better way to do this, why don't you try XYZ?" you get put on his own personal naughty list. I've just noticed that the women in the office he isn't talking to are all similar personalities (self-confident, outspoken, blunt, and not afraid to voice an opinion, even if it's wrong and happy to debate why that opinion is wrong).
Funnily enough, it's easier to deal with when I know he's annoying my bosses as well with his attitude and it's not just me personally being oversensitive to nonexistant subtleties of attitude.
Things are going to get tense though, because they're rearranging the office and Big Boss in his infinite wisdom has plonked Mr 16 Years three feet to my left at the same desk cluster, and I sit back to back with the other two main women on his naughty list. I don't see happy times ahead in my square footage of the office.