If I Was a Man


I’ve recently been on the job hunt. It was stressful and very depressing.

Why you ask?

Well, I was getting questions that shouldn’t be asked at all. The questions fell into the following topics:

  1. Parental status inquiries: Seriously, why is this even a thing? Last time I checked, my ability to do the job wasn’t determined by my offspring count.
  2. Postcode obsession: Just to be clear, when I mention my postcode, I’m not sending out invites for a neighbourhood block party. Let’s keep the focus where it belongs—on my qualifications, not my street address.
  3. The sad reality of job hunting for women: It’s like navigating a minefield of sexism and discrimination at every turn. From biased questions to unequal treatment, it’s a frustrating journey.

It all boils down to one thing: Can you do the job, rock those skills, and bring a can-do attitude? Not your sex, postcode, or parental status matters here.

“If you exclude 50% of the talent pool, it’s no wonder you find yourself in a war for talent.” Theresa J. Whitmarsh, Executive Director of the Washington State Investment Board. Image sourced from https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2016/03/quotes-on-women-at-work/

Ah, picture this scenario: Imagine being nestled amidst the serene beauty of the Blue Mountains, where kangaroos might just be your neighbours and the sound of a kookaburra’s laugh is your morning alarm. That’s where our story begins!

So, there I was, having a chat with a recruiter who seemed to think that commuting from the tranquil mountains to bustling North Sydney was like attempting to teleport to Mars. “Sorry, darling, but that commute just ain’t happening!” she exclaimed as if the concept of travel beyond the hills was a mythical tale.

And oh, the fun didn’t stop there! The recruiter, bless her heart, seemed convinced that being a mum meant I could only handle jobs on a part-time basis, as if my superpower was limited to juggling the house and kids instead of full-time work. But hey, I proudly declared, “Yes, I am on the lookout for a full-time gig!”

I even tried to reassure her that hopping on a train was as easy as snagging the last lamington at a bake sale, but she just couldn’t let go of her travel woes. It was like convincing a koala that eucalyptus leaves are so last season!

Then came the kicker: the whole “working from home” debate. When I floated the idea, it was like suggesting we paint the Sydney Opera House hot pink – a firm no-go. But lo and behold, after bidding adieu and sending a polite email, suddenly the tune changed. Flexibility? In this economy? Who would’ve thought!

But alas, despite the picturesque backdrop of the mountains and the potential for work-life balance, something just didn’t sit right. Call it intuition or maybe just good old-fashioned common sense, but diving deeper into the interview process only led to a virtual face-off with the rudest of interviewers.

This Zoom encounter felt more like a scene from a comedy of errors, with the interviewer tossing insults and criticisms like confetti at a parade. It was as if she couldn’t fathom that a mountain mum could also be a professional powerhouse. But hey, I stood my ground, reminding her that qualifications and skills don’t come with a gender bias.

In the end, it was a tale of mismatched expectations, a dash of rudeness, discrimination and a sprinkle of disbelief – all served with a side of resilience and a reminder to always trust your gut, especially when it’s screaming, “Abort mission!”

Why is my family life and travel situation suddenly in the spotlight? It is off-topic, wouldn’t you say?

🚀 Exposing the Real-Life Discrimination Mums Face in Job Hunting: It's Time for Change! Dive into the Unfiltered Truths of Sexism and Postcode Discrimination. Let's Break the Silence and Demand a Fair Shot for All! Click to Uncover the Reality. 💼🌟  #MomDiscrimination #MumDiscrimination #FairOpportunities #UnveilTheTruths
“Any society that fails to harness the energy and creativity of its women is at a huge disadvantage in the modern world.” Tian Wei, CCTV News. Image sourced from https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2016/03/quotes-on-women-at-work/

Not only was the job opportunity in North Sydney glaringly misrepresented, but it also turned out to be a bit of a unicorn hunt. You see, they advertised for a Marketing Manager, but what they really needed was a Chief Marketing Officer to build everything from scratch. Now, that could’ve been an exciting challenge, but the interviewer seemed more interested in building barriers than bridges. The phone interview felt like a rollercoaster of aggression and discrimination, leaving me absolutely certain that if I were offered the position, I’d politely decline.

Now, onto the next adventure in job hunting! This time, the opportunity was in Western Sydney, and I was totally fine with that. I knew I’d have to make the trek to the office, but they did offer some work-from-home days, which was a nice touch. However, the interviewer, another woman (go figure!), seemed to think I needed a geography lesson. She bombarded me with emails and calls, listing off the exact mileage between my home and the office, as if I hadn’t already scoped it out before applying. I mean, seriously, why the obsession with my commute?

Despite assuring her that I was perfectly content with the travel arrangements, she just wouldn’t drop it. It felt like everyone was making a mountain out of a molehill! And don’t even get me started on the recurring theme of being judged based on where I live and the fact that I’m a mother. It’s like people have this preconceived notion that being a mum means you can’t possibly handle a full-time gig in the office. Newsflash: I’m more than capable, thank you very much!

Fast forward to another opportunity: after enduring a marathon second interview that lasted nearly three hours, I was later told that I didn’t “fit the business” due to my location and family situation. Can you believe it? Talk about a real slap in the face!

But wait, there’s more. They even threw in some extra feedback for good measure: You had some B2B experience (they knew this and liked my strategy examples and how to change focus for different products and drive sales) “Your interview was solid, but additional concerns were raised over this being a full-time, office-based role, and travel, and the potential impact this may have on your long-term employment.”

I don’t believe that my location was asked at the first interview and this made them decide to not hire me when they found out where I lived. It’s beyond frustrating to witness how outdated attitudes still hold sway over who gets a shot at what roles. And don’t even get me started on the absurdity of postcode discrimination – it’s enough to make your blood boil!

I found a fabulous and fantastic job. The team have been welcoming and friendly, they are family friendly, and I work 1 day a week in the office and the rest of the week from home. I am grateful beyond words that the universe made this happen and thankful that the offer that I got is a place that fits in with my family and allows me to contribute to the business and my career. 

Ah, you know what? Looking back, I’m actually thankful I didn’t land that job. It’s like the universe had other plans in store for me, leading me straight to the wonderful opportunity I’ve recently embarked on. It’s funny how things work out sometimes, isn’t it? (I am very happy with my new job and glad that I kissed a lot of frogs to land a prince of a placement).

As the world gradually scales back on remote work options, it’s becoming increasingly clear that women will bear the brunt of this shift. With fewer opportunities for flexible arrangements, many are finding themselves trapped in a conundrum where finding suitable employment becomes a Herculean task. This not only impacts their ability to earn a living and contribute to their financial security but also restricts their freedom to navigate life’s challenges, such as leaving a relationship while maintaining stability.

While COVID-19 brought about myriad challenges, one silver lining was the widespread acceptance and success of remote work. Leveraging technology, we witnessed how seamlessly many roles adapted to remote setups, fostering productivity and work-life balance. So, why backtrack on this progress? Insisting on in-office presence as a measure of productivity feels archaic, reminiscent of a bygone era when physical presence equated to commitment.

Yet, my encounters weren’t isolated incidents. Almost every interview was marred by intrusive, sexist inquiries that left me seething with frustration. I vividly recall a particularly exasperating exchange with a young recruiter who seemed fixated on my ability to balance work and motherhood. Despite demonstrating my capability and track record, I was continually prodded about childcare arrangements as if my gender predetermined my competence.

And the irony? These interrogations occurred for roles explicitly advertised as remote, underscoring the absurdity of it all. The disparity in treatment between men and women in the hiring process is glaring, perpetuating age-old stereotypes and hindering progress towards gender equality.

The ramifications extend beyond mere inconvenience; they threaten to exacerbate existing inequalities in earning potential and financial security. Women, already burdened by the gender pay gap, now face the added hurdle of limited job opportunities. This not only jeopardises their present but also casts a shadow on their future, especially concerning retirement planning and financial independence.

With two daughters poised to enter the workforce, I can’t help but feel disheartened by the persisting barriers they’ll encounter.

Questions loom large:

When will women be judged on their merits alone?

Why are skills and abilities overshadowed by archaic notions of gender roles?

And why do women continue to face discrimination at the hands of their own gender?

These questions demand answers. It’s time to dismantle the barriers that confine women to outdated stereotypes and unequal treatment. After all, the strength of our workforce lies in diversity, and it’s high time we embraced it fully.”

If I was a man, how different would my working life be? 

As I reminisce about my youthful days, envisioning a dynamic mid 20-something with aspirations as vast as the moon itself, I recall taking a bold leap towards an exciting opportunity in film production. Picture me, filled with starry-eyed enthusiasm, when suddenly, I’m hit with the age-old question: “Are you planning on having kids?” Swiftly, I respond, “Perhaps someday, but let’s hit pause on that topic for now,” followed by a playful reality check to the interviewer, questioning the relevance of such a query.

But alas, did my honesty strike a dissonant chord? Spoiler alert: I didn’t secure the position. This led me to ponder whether I deviated from their expected narrative, or perhaps—here’s the kicker—that question should have been omitted entirely, particularly when posed to women whose talents extend far beyond maternal considerations.

It’s akin to a broken record, isn’t it? The familiar refrain of sexist and impertinent inquiries that echo through countless interviews. I can’t help but wonder, if I were a man, would they have refrained from delving into personal matters? Would my calling out of the off-key note prompt a swift acknowledgment and a change in direction? Or perhaps, in an alternate reality, such questions wouldn’t even warrant consideration.

At times, I find myself daydreaming about a male iteration of myself. Would the spotlight cast a different glow? Would I find myself juggling a plethora of opportunities? It’s a thought-provoking notion, one that may evoke a mixture of contemplation and frustration.

And here’s the kicker: my husband has never faced the same line of questioning in his professional endeavours, nor have my male friends. It begs the question: why the discrepancy? Why are women subjected to inquiries that their male counterparts don’t encounter?

Have you ever pondered how different the lyrics of your life’s soundtrack would be if you were a man? It’s a compelling question, inviting reflection on the complexities of privilege and perspective.

Women are still undervalued and underpaid. I cannot believe that is still happening.

“Australia’s national gender pay gap is 12 per cent. As of November 2023, the full-time adult average weekly ordinary time earnings across all industries and occupations was $1982.80 for men and $1744.80 for women. For every dollar on average men earned, women earned 88 cents. That’s $238 less than men each week.” https://www.wgea.gov.au/

If I were to don the hat of a man, would I still find myself precariously perched on the edge of a weekly fiscal cliff, facing a deficit of $238, dancing precariously close to an annual loss of $6,188? It’s a thought that sets my instincts ablaze, sparking a rebellion against the injustice that demands swift redress. Employment practices persist in squeezing every last cent, and unfortunately, it’s us women who often find ourselves bearing the brunt of these financial pinches.

In my recent jaunt through the job market, I encountered a relentless barrage of forms prodding for my current salary—a figure as irrelevant to the potential new role as a fish on a bicycle.

Would sticking to my guns as a woman in these negotiations mean resigning myself to settling for less? Or under a different set of societal expectations, would they have gladly offered up the industry-standard salary without batting an eyelid? It’s a question that haunts me, one I’m unable to answer as I remain firmly on the side of the gender coin labelled ‘female’.

Echoes of “The Man” ricochet around my mind as I contemplate the state of my superannuation—what whimsical twists of fate might await me had I navigated this world sporting a gentleman’s guise, free from the gaping maw of the gender pay gap?

Have you wondered what your life and career would be like if you were a man?

How about getting treated the same for pay, career opportunities and more?

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