Interview with a woman

Marilyn Walker Marilyn.Walker at
Thu Mar 30 15:41:29 EST 1995

In article <lbernstein.25.004BC8C1 at> Laurel S. Bernstein,
lbernstein at writes:
> I was interviewing a candidate for an 
>assistant position, and one of my colleagues was also present since the 
>candidate was going to be helping him also, to a lesser extent. I left the 
>room for an instant to get a chair, and came in just in time to hear my 
>colleague say "and after you have your babies, do you plan to come back to 
>work?" I told him (colleague) to just stop talking because that is not a 
>subject we can talk about, and changed the subject (that was awkward enough 
>at an interview, and afterwards, since my colleague has 15 yr more experience 
>than I do, including 10 yr working in private practice, hiring and firing lots 
> of people). Turns out the subject came up because he asked the candidate what 
>prompted her to leave bench work to look for a job with us (patent agents at a 
>biotech co.) and she said it was because she wanted to have children 
>and didn't want to be in the lab while she was pregnant. That's what I call a 
>good example of what *not* to say on an interview... but what can you do then? 
>Just say "oh." and change the subject? Or do what my colleague did?- I don't 
>think that's OK either. My fear was that once she had volunteered that info, 
>if we didn't hire her she'd sue us for that.
I can't agree that she was stupid to say that - she was honest.  Lies are
tangled webs, and don't most young women these days plan to have
children?  So basically, what you are saying is that they should try to
hide that in an interview?  I don't know - I think the mistake was in you
not letting her answer, since she did bring the topic up.  Are you saying
that you didn't want to hire her knowing she would be having children
while there?

I suspect (hope) that what you meant by saying she acted stupidly was
that you realize there is lots of prejudice against women due to their
being the bearers of children, and that you wished she had realized that
and protected herself.  I see less and less evidence of prejudice against
women per se and more and evidence of prejudice against women who also
happen to be mothers, with the concept that they cannot possibly be equal
in the workplace.  

Marilyn Walker

More information about the Womenbio mailing list