A recent Twitter-storm popped up in my feed about a job vacancy at Telltale for a Creative Director:
— Jennifer Scheurle (@Gaohmee) April 12, 2017
The tweet says Telltale is looking for more female applicants. This is a good thing. Why? Because it automatically tells any female interested that this is a workplace genuinely interested in working WITH females. Not solely females, at the exclusion of any other gender-related class of humans. Simply, they are willing to work with females as well.
As a woman who has worked in both male-dominated offices and female-dominated offices, this is a great thing to see. There are certain professions which, unfortunately, still have problems with gender equality. They don’t always discriminate within the hiring process. Instead, it’s more subtle things–like, the workplace is more difficult/awkward to work in. And this is definitely something you want to know before putting in the effort with a job application.
In a lot of places, discrimination against an applicant based on gender identity is a big no-no. There are a bunch of questions NOT to ask during an interview unless the company has a damn good reason: How old are you? Do you have any children? Do you prefer Marvel over DC? … Wait, that last one not so much. It IS okay to like both.
But, it is not okay to ask: Will your significant other be okay if you work long office hours? Are you planning on having any more children? Are you planning on having ANY children?
Why are these bad questions? Because they are reducing the applicant to an expectation made by the interviewer, and are not seeing the applicant as a self-sufficient adult. If you are asking an adult of any gender to check-in with their significant other, you are automatically assuming they can’t make the decision on their own or perhaps even manage relationships without your prompting. Essentially, the interview question is already set up to give a reason NOT to hire that person.
And asking about kids? Thanks for your concern, but I’m pretty sure you are looking for a person who is committed to the job. So leave my reproductive decisions to me until I invite you into THAT conversation.
What I find disturbing is most of these questions are asked to females, but rarely to males. I know because I was asked. My husband has never been asked. And a lot of women I know have been asked these questions, or something similar, at some point in their professional lives–especially women returning to work after having kids.
So when I see a job vacancy include the words “we are looking for more female applicants,” I do not read that as saying “we are looking for ONLY females.”
I see this as “we are open for applicants of all gender identities. We know the game development industry has had a few problems with gender equality, but we want to encourage more females to apply for the job so we can choose the best applicant from a greater range of diverse applicants. We are that kind of encouraging workplace. Check us out!”
I long for the day when companies do not have to advertise they are equal employment opportunity supporters; when they don’t have to satisfy quotas in their minority group requirements; when they don’t have to explicitly say “more female applicants encouraged.”
Because then we don’t have to have this conversation.