what would you have done?

Sarah L. Pallas spallas at bcm.tmc.edu
Wed Feb 14 11:51:14 EST 1996

In article <12FEB96.17925612.0105 at UNBVM1.CSD.UNB.CA> DAWN C. GORDON,
I7BF at UNB.CA writes:
>Thanks for all the replies; much appreciated.  The whole incident
>still bothers me once and a while, but that is because I was/am not
>put off by the questioning.  My husband, when I told him the story,
>thought that they had a right a) to confirm the publications were
>mine and b) to wonder how a young person, just married, could deal
>with upcoming changes (ie, does she (or he) have a suportive spouse
>if moving/sacrifices are involved?  And believe me, sacrifices were
>involved (my husband was unemployed nearly 2 years, but in the fall
>found a super job).
>     Since I did not meet any male candidates who were married, I
>could not ask them the question; anyhow, the whole thing arose from
>the surname discrepancy of the publications.  What grounds would
>they have to ask the questions if I had not changed my surname?  My
>fault for being "old-fashioned"?

Several years ago, I was interviewing for postdoc positions at a large
meeting of a scientific society, and was disturbed that the application
form that went to the potential employers required that race and marital
status be provided.  I told the head of the interviewing committee that
this was inappropriate because it could be used to discriminate, and that
it was possibly illegal.  He blew me off in a really nasty way, so I got
pissed off, and wrote to the heads of the Society.  They held a meeting
with a lawyer, determined that they could possibly be sued for
discrimination, and required that the form be changed.  I also received
several apologies from the Society (though not from the nasty guy).  It
was a small action on my part but it had a big effect.  Your personal
life is not the concern of a potential employer or granting agency.  Men
are generally not required to provide evidence that their marital status
will not interfere with their work, and if women are, it's
discrimination, plain and simple.  Don't tolerate it, but don't cut your
nose off to spite your face either.

Sarah Pallas

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