Monday, January 07, 2008

Ring of Truth

One piece of advice I got from my career coach was this: don't wear your wedding ring to an interview.

At first this annoyed me. Why should I hide my married state? I love my husband, and I have a great marriage, and there's no reason not to show that to everyone who looks at my hand.

But then, listening to her talk about the reason for taking off the ring, and after mulling it over from my new Backlash influenced feminist perspective, I realized it's a very rational move.

In our society, when men get married, at work they are viewed as the hardworking breadwinners. It's assumed they can stay late because at home, the Mrs. is doing laundry and keeping the house. She's taking care of the kids too, and if Dad takes a day off to chaperon a class field trip, he's seen as a doting father, a good sport. As a married man, he's well adjusted, and a family man only secures his status as a good team member.

For a woman, it is assumed that when she gets married, she's going to have children. Then comes the issue of maternity leave, or adjusting a schedule to allow her to go for pre-natal care, and however else the pregnancy needs to be accommodated. Then, after the child is born, there's the issue of daycare, of trying to work out a flex schedule. And employers often discount a working mother, assuming that she is going to be more dedicated to her children than to her job. Then she's passed up for promotions, or taken off important projects, and soon, the job isn't anything like what the woman was hired for.

When you add into this mix that I'm under 30, and just married six months ago, that would make me a prime target for those sorts of assumptions. And there are other assumptions that my career coach pointed out (things that she herself experienced when she was my age): people assumed that she wasn't going to stay for the long haul because Boston is expensive and she would probably move to somewhere cheaper to start a family. (I will note, the questions that my career coach came across are not legal to ask in an interview, but this was before those sort of laws were really enforced.) She got asked if she owned a house (renter = flight risk), how long she had been married (timing the biological clock), and more. When she stopped wearing her wedding ring, the questions stopped.

In my last round of interviews, I didn't wear my wedding ring either. And while I felt a little disloyal to Nate doing it, I felt much more able to talk about my capabilities to do the job, and the little voice inside me that has been screaming since November "Get a job! Your household depends on it!" was a little quieter and easier not to listen to while I was interviewing.

2 responses:

Vanessa said...

I had illegal questions asked in an interview this past spring. Needless to say, after that, I didn't want the job. I was so shocked, that I sort of answered the question, but felt I'd left it fairly ambiguous. Since then, I've always wanted to know what some ways of declining those types of questions are. This is something I hope to learn in the co-op program.

Jennifer said...

That is just so typical. Even though women have advanced in so many ways - careers especially... society will have a difficult time changing - EVER. Mothers and full-time, women workers are the ultimate multi-taskers! How can a business not realize that importance? Get the job (among many at at a time) done and then some!


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