Gender inequality is alive and well, and nowhere does this seem to be as apparent as it is in the workplace. According to the Institute for Women’s Policy Research, white women still make 78 cents to the man’s dollar in the United States, while Black and Latina women make 65 cents and 55 cents to the dollar, respectively. But, of course, workplace inequality goes much deeper than the wage gap. Thanks to high profile cases like Ellen Pao’s against Kleiner Perkins Caufield Byers, it seems like we’re finally beginning to pay attention to just how very real sexism in the workplace continues to be, even for women in positions of power. And, as it turns out, that prejudice can start even before you get the job.
As part of a photo series by employment law firm Thomas Mansfield, university graduates were asked to reveal the weirdest and most offensive questions they’ve been asked while interviewing for jobs. Unsurprisingly, a lot of the women’s responses proved just how prevalent gender discrimination in the workplace continues to be. From inquiries about how willing they would be to flirt with customers, to requests for them to wear more make-up, to asking whether or not they get PMT (and, presumably, PMS), the questions got intimate and very inappropriate.
“Unfortunately, the experience of those surveyed are not one-offs,” Julie Goodway, a lawyer at Thomas Mansfield, told The Independent. “We are often asked how interviewees should respond to questions like these.”
Very little context is given for the series, but the questions these women were asked were extremely disappointing and offensive, and seemingly irrelevant to their qualifications to do a good job. In particular, one woman was asked about whether or not she had plans to have children in the immediate future — something probably rarely, if ever, asked of men. Maternity leave is without a doubt one of the most contentious topics when it comes to discussing equality in the workplace. But rather than discriminating against women for having to endure pregnancy and childbirth (casually growing a human being, no big deal), why aren’t we instead trying to accommodate them?
It’s worth noting that Thomas Mansfield has yet to release some of the answers they received from the men interviewed for the series — but it’s hard to imagine it would be a similar line of questioning. Here’s hoping that the series brings attention to just how ridiculous these questions sound, and helps inspire employers to ask the stuff that really matters.
Check it out for yourself below!
(Images via Thomas Mansfield.)