We Have Come a Long Way Baby..But We Still Have a Long Way to Go!

Recently I read the book called Lean In by the COO of Facebook, Sheryl Sandberg.  In her book she covers many topics that working women deal with and offers practical solutions on how to overcome them.  Its modern successful women like her who are great examples for females of all ages and most importantly young women who are just starting their careers.    I think women have come a long way in the past 50 years, but I had an experience recently that made me realize we still have a long way to go in terms of workplace equality.

If I can share my experience and it helps someone else then its worth putting myself out there, hence this blog post.

Recently I answered an advertisement for a position in the handbag industry.  I have been doing  freelance work, but I am always looking for new gigs as I just moved to California 5 months ago and I am not working full time.   The job sounded like it would be an opportunity to learn a new sector in the industry, so I forwarded my resume to hiring manager.   I knew it was not a high status corporate position with a corner office,  but the way the advertisement was written the opening was a mid level position with potential for growth.   I got a call the next day.  They loved my background and wanted me to come in for an interview.   I went to the interview.   The CFO interviewed me.  He was a 60 something year old male and during the interview he mentioned it was a family business and that he had 5 sons.   He was respectful, courteous, friendly and gave me a tour of the corporate office.    However, the first red flag went up about 7 minutes into the interview.   Here was the questions.

1. Do you have kids? How old are they?
2.  Are you married?

OK fine.  I know those are weird questions, but I did not freak out about it.   The rest of the interview went well.

The next day I got a call.  He wanted me to come in and meet with the CEO of the company in two more days.  Very cool!

I met with the CEO.  The CEO was a 40 year old guy who was friendly but I could tell by the way he talked about his staff he was sort of a control freak.   I knew he was Mormon and had an MBA from UCLA because I had googled him before the interview.  (I am working on my MBA so I found that to be a cool factoid.)

Five minutes into the interview he mentioned he had 4 kids (like I care)   Then he started with the questions.

1.  Are you married.
2.  Do you have kids, how many?
3.  Where does your husband work?
4.  Oh, I have never heard of that company, what does he do?

At that point, I was pissed off, he was friendly enough but it was like, are you interested in talking to me about my qualifications or do you want to know the status of my ovaries?  Really?  My replies were curt and short at best.   I think he got the point and changed the subject.   I did not think the meeting went very well and was like what the hell was that all about?  I mean if I had a penis would the CEO be asking me if I had a wife and how many times had she been pregnant?   Hardly.   Its like instead of asking me about my employment history he was more interested in my reproductive history and love life.

I basically forgot about it..I was like I would not want to work there anyway..they are obviously not the right fit for me.   I know technically those questions are illegal, but it was just a waste of time for me.

Then the next day, I got a phone call from the CFO (the older guy) and he is like we want to make you an offer.  So he proceeded to talk...he said, "We want to offer you a really flexible schedule..blah blah..because I know you are married and have a kid."  I said, "Oh that has nothing to do with my schedule.  My husband works full time and my kid is in school full time and enrolled in an afterschool program."   Then he is like, "Well, we thought we would offer you a flexible schedule so you could get home to cook dinner, so we want to offer you a job from 9 am - 2 pm, M-F."   I was like WTF? Did you read my resume, did you see my job history?  He had not even talked salary or anything.   Then he said, "And we would be really flexible if your husband wanted to take you out of town with him on business trips."  I said, "My husband does not go on out of town business trips, it is usually me that travels overseas for business."

Finally he told me the job offer.  I was shocked.  (I would not have interviewed if I knew that was the salary.)  At this point I was really irritated, and I said, "I don't think this job is for me.   I don't want to work part time those hours and I am not a bored housewife so it does not sound like its a good fit."   I also told him the salary he was offering was what was on the ballot in Seattle for the new minimum wage.   I think that threw him off guard because he said he normally started new employees a few dollars above minimum wage.

This recent experience showed me that we still have a long ways to go before women get equality in the workplace 100%.   Was it my bad because I did not ask about the salary before the interview?  Maybe.  Was it my fault because I went to the second interview after I was asked inappropriate questions?  Maybe.  I try to see the best in people and situations.

What I learned from this experience is that if a company seems more interested in my personal domestic situation then it is probably not the right fit.   I have worked really hard to build a career.  I have always pushed myself out of my comfort zone, whether it was moving to Los Angeles by myself with $300 to my name when I was in my 20's to starting my own handbag brand.   I am not the type to give up just because I have T & A.   (tits and ass).  I don't feel I am less of a person because I am female.  My dad had me working in the fields along with his hired men when I was a young person, he did not care if I wore a bra..he just wanted us to change the irrigation hand lines so his crops would get watered.   I want to raise my daughter to feel empowered to do whatever she wants to do in her career regardless of her age, sex, marital status or race.

Its just one step back and because of that I have a story to tell so its two steps forward for the 25 year old girl who reads my blog.   In 2013 women have choices and equality.  I don't like it that I was put in this position but I try to learn from every situation.  (I can only imagine how difficult it is for individuals who come from non-traditional family backgrounds and have them be put through the ringer)  

 Maybe there is still some men in power in America today that think most women are the lower caste and are only worth a low minimum wage,  but their companies won't attract educated people to propel them into the next generation.  

Next.....

Ciao,

Rocco
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