Sexual discrimination against women still exists in job recruitment and promotion interviews. It can happen in job interviews when an employer is concerned that a female applicant may want time off work on maternity leave or parental care. So if you’re a woman going to a job interview what can you do to stop any discrimination and give yourself a better chance of gaining the job.

While open sexual discrimination is no longer allowed, it can still happen in a covert way and it can never be fully prevented by legislation alone. Women are discriminated against for some jobs because the interviewer holds certain beliefs. So let’s look at why some interviewers and employers might discriminate against a woman and prefer to take on male applicants.

A big concern for many small business owners is women taking time off for maternity leave or to care for dependents. Although in some circumstances a small business can receive financial compensation for female staff on maternity leave there are still negatives that impact the business. There is the cost of replacing and training someone to cover the role while they are off. In many small businesses it just isn’t worth taking on a temporary replacement as it takes too long to train them up to an effective standard.

Even in today’s liberated society, when the kids are ill it is often the Mom that takes time off work. Employers may want to keep a certain balance of male and female employees to maintain staffing levels and this leads to sexual discrimination where men are offered jobs that should have gone to a more qualified or experienced woman.

I work in sales and many sales managers will want only a small percentage of their team made up of young women of child bearing age. This is because the sales manager still has to carry the sales target for any staff that are off work. As maternity leave can be as much as 12 months this can have a big impact on sales figures. While employment laws to stop discrimination against the employee have been put in place, the sales manager has a target to achieve and may face consequences if they are not hit. This is a big incentive to overlook women applicants.

So what actions can a woman take to stop discrimination in job interviews?

As a working manager I have seen many interviewers assume that any woman of child bearing age is either going to have lots of children in the near future, or already has them and will need loads of time off for parental care.

The interviewer’s perception of the situation can be a totally different to the real circumstances of the job candidate. But the interviewer is not allowed to ask questions about plans to have children or childcare arrangements, as that may be seen as sexual discrimination. Often it is just easier not to employ too many young women.

One action a woman can take to prevent job interview discrimination is to openly discuss the topic and show she is aware of possible concerns. As an interviewer I would find this positively refreshing. It would show the applicant has her life planned out, knows that this is important to an employer, and is willing to confront these possible reasons for discrimination against women.

If a woman has dependants, then by telling the interviewer how she balances home and work, and what happens when care is needed, she is stopping the interviewer from making their own conclusions.

It is wrong that a woman should face sexual discrimination because she is the one that gives birth. It is wrong that an employer automatically assumes that it will be the woman that takes time off when the children are ill. It is also wrong that a sales manager is penalised with carrying a sales target for a team member on maternity leave. Let’s not pretend that the employment laws on sexual discrimination will stop all this happening. Nor will laws on sexual discrimination stop an interviewer, male or female, from worrying about these issues and possibly employing a male candidate because they think a woman may take more time off work. If you have actions in place for child care, or know what your future family plans are, then be honest and open with an interviewer and stop their assumptions from stopping you getting the job you want.

Author's Bio: 

If you are thinking about changing jobs, looking for promotion, or will be attending job interviews in the future, then professional preparation will give you an advantage over the other candidates.

I’m Stephen Craine an experienced manager and interviewer. I offer you my Job Interview Preparation Workbook course to help you get the job you want. It takes you through how to answer interview questions, preparing and presenting your experience and evidence, and many secrets about what the interviewer will be looking for. You will be receiving help and guidance from the other side of the interview desk. You can also get more Job interview information on my website at