From practice to theory..
I finally got it. I got the degree, the graduation party and my dream job. As a Female Navigator I sit back and wonder if my fight towards a job could have been easier if I were a man. In other words, in my pursuit to land my first job, was I at any point discriminated against for being a women, or in other words for not being a man? Yes and no. My path towards my dream job took me through seven interviews with different firms, before finding the one where our values matched. And no, I never felt that being a woman was the reason for being rejected, except in one instance.
At this particular interview I was left, not thinking “I wonder how it went”, but with a feeling of “I don’t know if I really want this job if I get it!”. What could make me consider not wanting the job? It wasn’t’ the fact that they generally discriminated against women, because I truly don’t think that they do. However, in my particular interview, I was openly asked questions which I believe only a women at the age of 26 and in a steady relationship would be asked (for a graduate position).
My feeling of disappointment came creeping when I was interviewed in regards to the mandatory months/years abroad (which are a part of many graduate programs). The interviewer wanted to know how my boyfriend would react to me living abroad, which is a very fair questions. Upon my answer he wanted to know how long we had been together and in that connection when we had considered having children? Let me remind you that, yes, this is an illegal question to ask at job interviews in Denmark, and yes all Danish firms know this. Naturally, I felt disappointed.
Being asked this question, I felt discriminated because when I hung up the phone I was thinking that my status: a women at the age of 26 in a steady relationship, could be the reason for me not getting the position. Not the correct reason for a rejection, such as me not being qualified. And it was this that made me disappointed, because I really don’t believe that my male graduate contestants were asked when they were considering starting a family. And even if we were about to have kids, the choice of having a child is hopefully a decision between two people, and requires equal commitment from both.
I therefore applaud my future employer, where I by the way will be required to be abroad for months/years, as a part of the graduate program. At this company, the focus of the job interview was on me and my qualifications, and not on my boyfriend and when we wanted to start a family. Which I by the way don’t want to do any time soon, but if I did, I would have been forced to lie, which isn’t exactly a great start to a new job.
The positive news is in my personal, truly subjective, empirical study, women within my age group, in a steady relationship, are only discriminated against in one out of seven Danish and Denmark-based companies.
Michelle Holmboe Thorsen