Like many people, I would like a new job. But like many people, I can’t seem to pinpoint exactly what I want to do. When I tell people that I don’t mind driving, they usually make the same suggestions. “Why don’t you be a courier or a taxi driver, or get your PSV/HGV licence and drive a bus or a lorry?”
‘And you would probably easily walk into one of those jobs because you’re a woman.‘
Now, I don’t know what you thought about this statement but it makes me inwardly cringe. I don’t like the idea that some employers may give me a distinct advantage over some of the male applicants just because I’m female. In fact, it makes me feel quite uncomfortable to think that I could make some poor guy miss out on an interview when he might actually be a bit better suited to the job specification! In my opinion, it’s only fair that the best applicants on paper should get favoured, regardless of whether they’re a man, a woman or even a trained chimp!
I would feel pretty annoyed then, if I knew that a potential employer was interested in me mainly because I have a pair of breasts. I mean, talk about superficial! I want to be taken more seriously than that. Ideally, I want to be employed because they recognise that I have the skills/qualifications/experience for the position. I want to be employed because I come across well in the interview. I want to be employed because they think that I’ll be an asset to the company. In short, I want them to believe that I’m the right person for the job!
Besides, jobs aren’t supposed to be ‘easy to walk into.’ The application process for most of them is about sorting the wheat from the chaff, so to speak. Therefore, I want to feel like I’ve competed fairly to get one! I’m not afraid to take on the boys! If I was applying for a type of job that tends to attract both genders, it’s highly likely that I would have to compete equally with men as well as women. So by that logic, why shouldn’t I compete on the same level with men if I apply for a job at a more male-dominant company? After all, companies aren’t allowed to actively discriminate against women any more.
Well, it seems that some employers don’t give both sexes the opportunity to compete fairly! I had started to suspect that there must be some truth in the aforementioned ‘because you’re a woman‘ statement after several worldly-wise men had said it to me. Now I’ve recently discovered something called ‘positive discrimination’ which appears to confirm it. Basically, if an employer is faced with two candidates with similar skills but one is from a minority background, then they’re encouraged to favour this candidate.
I don’t really agree with this. I think that there’s a big difference between being employed genuinely and being employed just for the sake of it, if you like. I feel that positive discrimination makes some male-dominant employers feel obliged to take a woman on when they may actually prefer one of the men. And it’s as if we’re being hired merely by way of apology for discriminating against our gender in the past!
Furthermore, it only highlights the fact that women are still in a minority group. This gives the impression that where employment is concerned, we’re still seen as the underdog and need a helping hand into certain roles. The intentions of positive discrimination may be good but it doesn’t exactly recognise feminism and it also effectively discriminates against the male candidates instead!
Women may also be prioritised over men because there’s apparently a shortage of us in some traditional-male industries. Due to past discrimination, we won’t have gained much, if any relevant work experience to get into these jobs. Now, it appears that employers are encouraged to disregard this and give us a chance.
Again, I don’t much like the idea of being hired simply to make up the female numbers in order to make the company look like a more fair employer! It would be another unfair advantage over the male candidates and I would feel like I didn’t deserve the job at all. But as this currently appears to be the only way that women can get into some industries, I suppose I would just have to accept it if I really wanted to work in one of them.
I wonder if some employers have other ulterior motives for giving preference to women. If it’s a company in the private sector, they may believe that it will make the company generate more business if they appear to be feminist-minded in the eyes of their customers. Hence, the more women, the better! Or maybe some very male-dominated companies think that it will be a refreshing change to have more women about the place. A bit of eye-candy, even!
I’ve actually wondered about why I was taken on for my current delivery job. I believe that there must have been some male applicants who had more experience driving than me. I’ve since noticed that women don’t appear to apply for the drivers jobs very often. Hmmm, suspicious! Did my boss decide to ‘snap me up’ for one as soon as my application form hit his table?
Despite my views on this subject, I have to admit that it’s quite a comforting thing to know that I may always be guaranteed a job! And if I found myself out of work, I might not have to wait too long for something else. However, I would be conscious that I was selling out. This is the main reason why I’m currently put off applying for traditional-male positions. I really don’t want to be taken on for the wrong reason(s) but it appears that there will be a chance of that.
Some might say that I have a lot of pride to swallow and that I’m too principled. But surely anyone can see that there’s no justification in me potentially robbing a deserving young man of an opportunity, just because I happen to have XX chromosomes!