Ask Him More: Gender Bias in Recruitment

“Do you have any children or plan on having children anytime soon?”

Stop asking me when I plan to have kids in a job interview!

It’s bad enough I have to deal with this question at get-togethers, conferences or with people who haven’t seen me in ages. But now I have to deal with this question in an interview for a JOB.

I have been told that I’m not allowed (yes allowed) to get pregnant during in my 1st year of employment – the company frowns on such a development. At another interview, I was told that I would not be allowed to get pregnant during my employment at the company.

However, I am pretty certain that very few of my male colleagues need to answer these questions in an interview room. Do they get questioned on when they plan on settling down? Or have they developed a project management schedule for making children and consequently the risk management matrix to hedge against complications at work?

I’d like to propose a list of questions that we ask the MEN to level the playing field a bit:

1. “How does your wife feel about your career? Does she think that it will get in the way of your role as a husband and father?”

2. “Kwame, are you in a serious relationship? When will the two of you be ready to start a family? Having kids could be a sign that you are no longer focused on your career.”

3 . “Three children are quite the handful. How do you intend on balancing your responsibilities as a father and a manager?”

4. Both you and your wife work. Who is going to watch the kids while you are at work? Or if they get ill and can’t attend school?

5.  So Bruce, you are unmarried but you have children with how many women? The company tends to frown on men who have multiple families. It shows instability.

When employees walk into the office, they bring with them their entire context – experience, emotions, family and life responsibilities. This affects how employees perform, how they relate to others in the workplace and how they view the company. However, it is only women who are bombarded with sexist, irrelevant questions in job interviews. These are not the kind of questions that men get asked and by asking women these questions, it reveals bias against mothers.

It can be said that most people (men and women)  are working so that they can provide a better life for their families. So why is it then, the family isn’t taken into consideration if companies value their employees?  There are going to be times when work comes first and other times, when family takes precedent.

Creating policies around flexible working arrangements or remote working helps workers fulfill their parental responsibilities and carry less guilt into the office. And by creating such policies recruiters would be focused on a woman’s skills, talents, productivity and ability to meet deadlines, rather than her timeline for having a baby. 

M. Analise Kandasammy is an expert generalist in the field of business and has branded herself an ‘organisational architect’. She believes that the path to a meaningful life first begins with accepting and loving your authentic self. She has a deep passion for developing entrepreneurial visions that are community-based and creative plus she is fascinated with how culture shapes societies and as a mixed woman, a diversity enthusiast.

Do you agree with Analise? Should we ask men some of the same questions women are asked around family issues? Have you ever experienced gender bias in the interview? Tell us!