Assuming sexism

Last night I was chatting on MSN to a friend of mine who lives in Dubai.  As a high flying, single, childless woman I wanted to know whether she was enjoying reading A Woman’s Writes.  Her reaction surprised me.  She isn’t a big fan of feminism it seems.  Thinks we should just get on with proving we are awesome and stop harping on about it.

This morning I read a blog post which, in my mind, demonstrates exactly the kind of pseudo-feminist whinging that gives feminism a bad name.

The blog came to my attention because it popped into my inbox as a Google Alert I have set up for one of my client’s company name.  I have deliberately left my client’s name out of this post so I can remain entirely true to my own feelings without needing to play safe with their brand.  The woman writing on the blog was accusing my client of sexism because they hadn’t hired her for a job.

As she tells the story; my client advertised for a computer technician competent in both Mac and PC.  The blogger applied for the job and tells us that having the skills to support both computer types is a rarity but one she possesses.

“I applied in confidence, and had no question that I would be contacted; after all, who else was likely to apply who had such substantial prior cross-platform experience? […] Of course, they never contacted me. No phone call, no e-mail, zilch.”

The blogger makes a brief aside that:

“Recruiters routinely contact me wanting to place me in full-time desktop support roles, but I can’t work full-time do to my writing and fatigue issues, and so I have to turn them down.”

Before hitting us full throttle with her accusation:

“Understandably, I am quite thoroughly convinced that the vast majority of the candidates they chose to interview and contract had nothing close to the same level of prior experience I did. Obviously, then, if I was not discounted due to a lack of experience, skills, or availability, then Occam’s Razor surely applies:

“They chose not to contact me solely because they wish not to employ a woman in that capacity.

“Perhaps they think that clients won’t respect a female technician, or feel that they aren’t getting the best service for their money. This may be true; there are likely many clients who would feel that way. The problem is, that a business is not permitted to justify sexism on those grounds under Australian law, and thus this is a matter that will be referred to the Victorian Equal Opportunity Commission. While I’ve had my suspicions regarding previous roles for which I’ve been turned down, none has been as blatant as this.”

No, you didn’t miss something.  Her immediate assumption was that her gender was the basis for the decision.  Despite offering no evidence of any behaviour from the company to indicate this, she reckons that my client is guilty of sexism.

Now, I am a woman.  I am a respected advisor to this company – and my role is in the technology space too.  I am also a feminist who (due to this blog as much as anything) is always on the watch for sexism in action.  I work directly into the MD of the company in question, who is quite possibly one of the last men I would ever accuse of sexism.   And yet she, who has no evidence or knowledge of any individual within the company, accuses them quite willy nilly of sexism.

I showed the blog to a friend this morning and their response was:

“Could it possibly be that she is over qualified and possibly more expensive than others? Did that thought ever cross her mind? Possibly she was in an area that they didn’t need support (considering it sounds like she lives at least 100km outside the city)… possibly the fact that she has ‘fatigue and writing issues’… “

I would like to add; maybe she actually *wasn’t* as good as the other applicants on paper.  Perhaps the heavy job losses in IT that we have heard about over the last six months made the position heavily oversubscribed and her application was simply outshone by 10 or 20 others.

No wonder men and women alike shrink in disgust from the word ‘feminism’ when the gender equality cause is used to defend the ego from every knock back in life.


My client has contacted the blogger twice.  The first time she went mental and updated her post to say she had been threatened.  He wrote to her again and told her that even if she genuinely felt the way she did that there were appropriate channels to pursue the matter and defaming the company on the internet was not one of them. She has now sensibly removed both posts relating to the matter. I am proud that he didn’t run in fear of her accusations and stuck to his guns.


5 responses to “Assuming sexism

  1. Sounds to me like she has insecurity and ego issues. The fact that she cannot work full-time due to ‘fatigue and writing issues’ sounds alarm bells to me.

    Is that something in her application? Would she employ someone who admitted up front that they are effectively working at reduced capacity and not able to commit their all to the work!?

    This sort of double standards is what make a lot of people in business scared of hard issues when dealing with female employees. There is always the magic trump card of sexism to wave around when you don’t get what you want 😦

  2. Polly Johnson

    Hello bitter and twisted!!
    This woman gives women, bloggers, writers, computer technicians and people with fatigue issues a bad name.
    I agree with Nic people crying sexism is indeed what makes people scared.

  3. I agree with the posts above, and – not wishing to go completely off-topic – my work involves advising employers on how best to communicate with candidates at all touchpoints – from attraction to exit, alumni and beyond.

    My take on this is that if […] declined to respond to her application then they should expect a negative response. That negative response will be blogged, emailed and discussed at the water cooler – regardless of the reasons behind it. She’s made a huge assumption, but I see huge assumptions made by candidates day-in day-out where there is poor communication.

    It’s relatively simple for an employer to reply to a candidate (even using an automated system); and it’s even better to engage that candidate by explaining your reasoning – who knows what positive enployment messages would have sprung forth.

    But, back on topic, it seems this lady has victimisation issues.

  4. Em, took me two clicks and one copy and paste to find out who the company was!

    I routinely check the interwebs when I am hiring to see if the people involved have blogs. Worth looking at her blog (its under her own relatively uncommon name so wouldnt be hard to find once she had sent in an application) and asking – if I was hiring, and she applied, and I read her blog, would I want to take her application any further?
    Well, wouldya?

    I think this maybe falls under the category of “people who overshare” and dont realise that prospective employers may look them up online, rather than anything to do with sexism.

    • I would agree.

      And I didn’t expect it to be hard for people to find her blog – just didn’t want to directly link and give her any more traffic than she deserves!

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