Over the past 50 years, great strides have been made in the way of gender equality and eliminating sexism in the workplace. Unfortunately, changes still need to be made, because it’s 2016 and the world is still, frustratingly dealing with discrimination in the workplace.
A Prime Example
The discrimination isn’t even subtle. A recent article on LinkedIn written by Bruce Hurwitz gave this charmingly archaic advice: “When interviewing for a job, lose the ring!”
As the title might suggest, Hurwtiz posits engaged women should refrain from wearing their rings to interviews. Why? According to Hurwtiz, male interviewers will think the candidate is high maintenance and of course, female interviewers will be jealous of her.
To wrap up his dissertation of idiocy, he even suggests it’s wise for engaged women to subtly let slip they have signed a prenup as part of their engagement. The whole thing came about after a woman had taken Hurwitz’s advice and removed her ring for her next interview. Apparently, she got the job.
Damn. Gina. Go ahead, read the article. It is a GEM. We’ll wait…
It should come as no surprise a recent study from Pew Research shows women are still nearly twice as likely as men to have experienced gender discrimination in the workplace. How is this still happening?Women are still nearly twice as likely as men to have experienced workplace gender discrimination. Click To Tweet
Wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong… Wrong!
Let’s start with the easy part. The implication that a woman with a large engagement ring is high-maintenance is ridiculous. Wearing an engagement ring: large, small, diamond, pearl, whatever…signifies one thing and one thing only: The person wearing it is engaged! It has no bearing on an interviewee’s job skills, work ethic, or how high-maintenance they are.
The engagement ring does not signify anything about the woman wearing it but the need to tell job seekers, erm….sorry, WOMEN, what they need to wear ON THEIR FINGERS does say a lot about this ahem, writer. It says:
- He thinks he has the right to tell women what to wear. He doesn’t. For historical context (and current events because gender policing is still a thing, but just for us ladies) check out this nearly century-long set of pictures depicting women being arrested and/or hassled by police because of what they are wearing.
- He thinks that because he assumes women are gold-diggers with no love in their cold, cold hearts, that all men do (because of COURSE men are doing the hiring). In this case (and in this case only) I approve the #notallmen hashtag. Not all men think women are out to get their grubby little ring-laden hands on their cash! Cripes, even Lucy Ricardo had to make her own dang money (fictionally, in real life Lucille Ball made the studio HIRE her husband. What a gold-digger, that one.)
- Because he clearly thinks so little of women, he also thinks we’re all in competition and we’re all jealous of SHE WHO SNAGS THAT MAN. Wut? I cannot with this one. How can I prove that it’s not women trying to keep other women down? Here’s an idea. One of the world’s richest, and most powerful women…surely other women must hate her, just look.
Do you want to know what the other women in the office will think of a new hire wearing an engagement ring? They’ll think, “Oh, she’s engaged. Neat.” More likely, they won’t even notice the ring.
The hard part, then, is changing the kind of thinking that influenced Hurwitz to write his article. He’s far from alone. Did you know that 30,356 gender-based discrimination claims were made in 2012? Fortunately, most of the readers and commenters on the article were against Hurwitz’s claims. They were disgusted by his blatant sexism and woefully outdated advice.
Still, although in the minority, Hurwitz, and his assenters are very vocal. They have the potential to influence others and make gender discrimination and wrongheaded stereotypes worse when they should be getting better. It makes one shudder to think this entire conversation is going on, not on Facebook, but on LinkedIn, the professional network. While it’s not the first conversation to veer far left of the network’s stated goals, it is unique in that, many of these people are hiring other people! And we’re far from being in a place from wage or interview equality to deal with Hurwitz shenanigans.Did you know that 30,356 gender-based discrimination claims were made in 2012? Click To Tweet
Since it’s still broke, fix it!
Changing Hurwitz and his sexist way of thinking is practically impossible, but this problem is solvable. All it takes is focusing mainly on properly educating your employees, the men and women who will one day fill Hurwitz’s outdated shoes.
Most companies strive for gender equality in the workplace, but it can be hard to achieve and there’s a lot of ground yet to cover. According to a recent study in the Psychology of Women Quarterly, women have to work harder and pay closer attention to their strategies than men. In many cases, people aren’t even aware of their biases. They’re ingrained as children, and despite knowing better, they can be hard to shake. The solution here is talk about bias and stereotypes. If they’re out in the open, you can’t hide from them. You address them and make sure you don’t make any judgements based on them.
- Help men by teaching them not to interrupt their female coworkers and by offering leadership and project management roles to people equally.
- Help women by teaching them how to handle and resolve confrontation in the workplace.
- If you manage compensation, work hard to create compensation models rather than awarding pay based on ingrained biases you may not know you have.
- Point out when someone’s bias (like the genius this article discusses up there) is affecting hiring and management decisions. It can be scary to confront, but it’s important to learn to do so gently and firmly.
Be the change you want to see
Fixing the problem starts with you, and it’s really not that difficult. Here are some easy ways to get rid of bias in the interview process:
- Recognize and acknowledge biases
- Be objective – don’t trust your gut
- Get others’ opinions, don’t rely on your own judgement
- Focus on the tangibles: Can this person get the job done? Do they have the skills?
- When in doubt: Sleep on it!
Editor’s Note: This isn’t the first time our staff has gotten ticked off about how women are treated in the workplace. Check out our series on the Wage Gap, our (valid) question around why there aren’t more women leaders, what blind recruitment really looks like, the issues of women in leadership, our #equalpayday feature and finally, how women can make it to the top (ring or no). Kendra is one of our newest interns and is lending her voice to the fight. Anything offensive in this article was written by Maren Hogan, who is too old to be polite about this shit anymore.