Why My Wedding Ring Went Missing - Gender Bias in Hiring
I struggled with the decision to write this for a multitude of reasons.
I don’t want anyone to think of me as dishonest or that I'm out to expose anyone. I'm not looking forward to the judgy questions and comments. And last but not least, I run the risk of revealing my modus operandi for the rest of my Googleable future.
I'm putting my concerns aside because I think it's important for women, especially those in technology, to discuss the gender bias we face in the workplace— even if we're not able to the instant it happens. All I ask is that you consider how you would feel if a cherished woman in your life shared the same experience with you.
I have been job hunting for many months and recently started work at a new company. During my job search, I had countless calls and interviews with recruiters, hiring managers, and potential future colleagues. Before every meeting, I took a step that most people probably skip— I removed my wedding ring.
Something about this stage in my life just screams “PREGNANCY!” It does for my family, friends, and people I’ve barely met. So in my mind, it would be no surprise for a hiring manager to see me as maternity leave waiting to happen. My fear has been that someone with that mentality might be inclined to choose an equally qualified male candidate over me, before getting a full picture of my career ambitions.
But even my paranoid, overly cautious self never expected someone to ask my marital status during an interview process.
When this happened, my knee jerk reaction was to laugh and confirm my marriage to a stranger with no business asking that question. While many would have ended the conversation right then, I happen to have a tenancy toward nervous laughter and an inability to deflect uncomfortable questions.
Don’t worry, it gets worse.
He became worried that I would think he was flirting with me, and to be honest, I did. So to clarify that no sexual harassment was intended, he stated his real motive.
He asked if I was married because the married women on the team have children, come to the office earlier, and leave earlier than him to care for their families. He thought that a single female might have a more flexible schedule, and the ability to work past 4 PM. Most people keep their gender bias closer to the vest.
Maybe it's a just a rumor, but I've heard that the EEOC doesn’t take kindly to this behavior. I'd venture to say that most women frown upon it, too. Sadly, this whole fiasco was easily avoidable with questions like “would an 8 AM - 5 PM schedule work for you?” or "are you able to work overtime in an urgent situation?"
Instead, it ended with a cold, hard slap of reality. I’m not paranoid— my gut was right to leave my wedding ring at home.