The 1 Question That Irks Me In A Job Interview
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The 1 Question That Irks Me in a Job Interview

19 Jul The 1 Question That Irks Me in a Job Interview

“Do you have any children or plan on having children anytime soon? Because this job is quite demanding and may require you to work long hours.”

Stop asking me when I plan to have kids in a job interview.
My ovaries are not your concern.

It’s bad enough I have to deal with this question at get-togethers, conferences or with people who haven’t seen me in ages. So I should not have to deal with this question in an interview for a JOB.

I have been told that I’m not allowed (yes allowed) to get pregnant in my 1st year of employment, that the company frowns on such a development. At another interview, I was told that I would not be allowed to get pregnant during my employment at the company. Later, I found out that a high valued female employee left because she had a kid and decided that she wanted to stay home with her baby so she resigned. I guess that was the reasoning behind the ‘instruction.’ [/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]

If I play devil’s advocate for a minute, I can understand a potential employer’s concern about women having children because a woman having children means maternity leave, potential sickness while pregnant, payment of National Insurance, women having to prioritize their work hours with family commitments because she needs to think of the son or daughter that needs to be taken care of an evening as greater priority than finishing a major presentation for a meeting the following day.

However, apart from me thinking that it should not concern a potential employer when I plan to have children, has anyone ever stopped to think that this particular question could be insensitive to women?

There are a host of reasons why a woman is unable to procreate and it may have nothing to do with her intentions to start a family. A few of those reasons could be:

  1. Endometriosis
  2. An infertile male partner
  3. Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS)
  4. Uterine fibroids
  5. Fallopian tube damage
  6. Low ovarian reserve

Meeting a woman that is unable to have children is not far fetched as a matter of fact, I know at least one woman who has experienced one of the above.

Women should not be penalised or made to feel as though getting pregnant and having children are an obstacle in the workplace.

What we need instead is a HUGE cultural shift.

By no means, this is not a Trinidadian issue alone. This issue is faced by women in workplaces all over the world. By the way, if we as Trinidadians are as family oriented as we claim, shouldn’t we have companies which are also family oriented? Being family oriented business goes beyond having a token Annual Family Day – it is shown in your culture, values and yes, even the type of questions you ask in an interview room.

By no means, this is not a Trinidadian issue alone. This issue is faced by women in workplaces all over the world. By the way, if we as Trinidadians are as family oriented as we claim, shouldn’t we have companies which are also family oriented? Being family oriented business goes beyond having a token Annual Family Day – it is shown in your culture, values and yes, even the type of questions you ask in an interview room.

By the way, do companies in Trinidad and Tobago even realize that the population is declining?

Now, let’s make some basic economic sense out of this issue. As a business person what’s one of the 1st questions you answer whenever you are looking to introduce a new product to the market – What is the demographic?

And where do demographics come from?

People…..how are people made?  

You can see where this is going right?

The 2011 Population and Housing Census demographic report showed that there has been a significant decline in the number of young people between the ages of 5 to 9 in Trinidad and Tobago with steep declines in ages 10 to 19 also being noted compared to the 2000 census. So employers, if you keep on harassing women about having children, this trend may probably continue and the end result? Less people. Less people that you can make money from in the future. 

Now before anyone says, but Analise, maternity leave is a huge expense to companies, the reshuffling to accommodate the time off plus other costs which may be incurred. I hear you and I kindly ask that you show me the data, which substantiates your claim.

 On the flipside…

Do any of my male colleagues get questions on when they plan to get married? Or have they developed a project management schedule for making children and consequently the risk management matrix to hedge against complications at work?

I’d like to propose a list of questions that we ask the men to level the playing field a bit:

Scenario 1

So Bruce, I see no ring. So you are unmarried but do you have any children?  

With how many women?

Scenario 2 

Kwame, who do you live with? Ah ok, are you in a serious relationship? When will the two of you be ready to start a family?

Scenario 3 

Mark, so you have been married for years now and don’t have any kids. Have you looked into fertility treatments?

Scenario 4 

Both you and your wife work. Who is going to watch the kids while you are at work? Or if they get ill and can’t attend school? 

Scenario 5 

Do you intend to wait until you are established in your career before having kids? Afterall, it’s not as though you are on a timeline. 

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