Sunday, July 6, 2014

Staring Discrimination in the Face

Another Hubpages reprint (August 5, 2009). Lest you think I’m dwelling on the past, note that this situation happened to me twice again, early last year before I landed my present job. My circumstances were very different by that time, but the outcomes of the interviews were essentially the same.

I Just Don’t Like Its Looks:

Yesterday, for the very first time - that I’m aware of, that is – I was a victim of discrimination while on the job market. Why was I refused employment? Was it racial discrimination? No. In fact, I strongly suspect that my “mixed-ness” might have even given me an advantage in this particular case. Was it sexual discrimination? Well, there’s no reason to waste time with an in-person interview since he would’ve had considerable evidence that I was female after a few e-mails and phone calls. Besides, this job required a lot of tedious, repetitive work...quite like a lot of “women’s work.” I’d be surprised if a lot of men had applied anyway.

Was it age discrimination? If you post a job on craigslist that would only appeal to retirees and college students on summer break, you can’t be too choosy. I’m not a veteran. I’m a native-born citizen. And nothing related to political affiliation, marital status, or religious views came up in the conversation. No, the employer discriminated against me because I was over-qualified.

The Story:

I had a summer position lined up, but conflicts with school forced me to decline it. So, I’ve spent all summer in great need of cash, having no luck because (1) positions I would’ve possibly gotten were closed months ago, (2) I don’t possess highly-demanded skills for low-wage jobs, (3) employers don’t want to hire someone who’s planning on leaving soon, and (3) employers don’t take me seriously because someone so well-educated can’t possibly want a “such-and-such job”! Of course, I really need a job right now. I’m willing to break out of my usual part-time job routine and do something very different because I needed the money. For example, I applied to a number of retail jobs...and was rejected every time.

So you can imagine how happy I was to find a temporary job that required the very skills I had, although it was low-paying and not intellectually stimulating. After a phone interview that went very well, I went to the in-person one feeling like a million dollars. I had years of experience doing exactly what the employer wanted done. I felt that my PHD candidacy was actually an asset in this case, unlike with other interviews for low-wage jobs. I also had a great excuse for why I wanted to take the assignment: To get more practice! This one was definitely in the bag...NOT!

He took one look at my resume and CV – neither of which he’d taken the time to actually read beforehand – and announced, “You're an academic. You shouldn’t have a job like this.” Say what? Apparently, my teaching experience, research, and publications, not impressive by any means from a real academic’s point of view, convinced him that this was not the job for me. Well, shouldn’t I be the one to determine that? I was willing to do the work needed and accept the pay offered. And I had the skills to do it far more efficiently in far less time than anyone else who applied, I’m quite sure.

So, yes, I’m a victim of discrimination. The employer made no attempts to hide that fact. To make it worse, he thought he was doing me a favor! Try telling that to the credit card companies.