By Peg Johnston • November 20, 2007•Sexism, Sexual Harassment, and Other Forms of Discrimination
I have an interesting story from my interview experience when I was a 2L looking for a summer associate job. I went on call-backs to many, many large firms in the city I was interested in. About half way through the “season” of callbacks I had a great set of interviews at a mid-sized office of a very large international firm. The day went very well and for the only time in the season, the office chair offered me a job on the spot.
I was impressed. I felt like this was a good indicator that they really wanted me to work there and, given how every large firm seems to look and feel pretty much the same, this was an instant boost for this particular firm in my eyes.
However, he followed up the offer sentence with something that went like this, “You’ve probably noticed that we only have one woman attorney in this office. I want you to know that we are trying to fix that.” Hmmm. Actually, I hadn’t noticed until he said that. I hadn’t yet got to the point where I was carefully examining all of the personnel statistics for my top choices.
I appreciated his candor and I felt like this was an indicator that the firm wasn’t trying to hide anything from me. HOWEVER, I didn’t want to be a token woman in the office. I also didn’t want to be hired just to help the demographics of the office. Truth be known, I was upset that the guy even noticed that I was a woman. I turned down the offer and found a home at a firm that had women at every level of practice and that didn’t mention my female-ness at any point in the interview process.
I have been trying to think of a good time to write about this on Ms. JD and now is as good a time as any. In a way, this is a follow-up to my earlier post about acting like a man. Additionally, I feel like the timing is good given the attention recently paid to Senator Clinton’s gender. Here’s my read on the Clinton “controversy”. First, I don’t think that her mentioning her all-girls-school roots was, in any way, playing the proverbial gender card. I really think the situation has turned out to be more about opening the door.
Her opposition has been waiting for the door to her gender to open so that they could bust it down and seize the opportunity to remind people that she’s a woman. She opened it by mentioning her female-ness and pointing out the obvious all-boys-club nature of presidential politics. I’m sure her opponents are hoping that there are voters/viewers out there that would never vote for a woman and they think that these people just need a little reminding in order to shake up her strong poll numbers.
Here’s the thing … we don’t need to be reminded that she’s a woman. Why? Because it doesn’t make a bit of difference. Likewise, we don’t need to be reminded in interviews. If it matters to us, we’ll notice. If it doesn’t matter to us, we won’t and we don’t need to have a conversation about it. Similarly, I’d rather you, Mr. Hiring Partner, didn’t notice either and, instead, hire me because of my abilities and experiences and not even consider my gender – thank you very much.