Being that I’ve been on the hunt for a more satisfying and lucrative job, I’ve been on a million and one interviews.  The Lehigh Valley is not the most fabulous place for professionals that aren’t looking to commute to NYC, NJ, or Philadelphia.  There are some opportunities available, but if you’re not a nurse, teacher, or engineer the options are slim.  If I wanted to work in a warehouse or factory, however, I’d be golden.

That being said … I’ve been actively searching, applying, and interviewing for jobs since last November.  Job offers?  Zero.

My husband doesn’t get it and I think he secretly believes I’m an unemployable invalid.

What gives?  Besides the limited number of jobs for professionals in my field, there’s the discrimination factor.  I’ve only been out of college for a little over two years and I’ve already encountered a surprising number of accounts of employment discrimination and illegal interview questions.

Incident #1 –  I was hired by an internet-based homeschooling program.  The company was founded by Mimi Rothschild an evangelical Christian who I later discovered was up to her eye balls in legal troubles from a previous business venture.  Anyway, on day one of training, I was asked to fill out some paperwork.  It asked for the usual information you would expect like emergency contact information, social security number, and then it asked about my religion.  So, I answered, “Roman Catholic.”  I thought it was a strange inquiry, but answered nonetheless.  At the end of the day Mimi Rothschild called me into her office and asked me how comfortable I was working for a “Christian” organization when I was a “Catholic.”  I told her Catholics are Christians, so there would be no problem.  That evening, the woman who hired me called to tell me that they were not going to ask me to return to work because I “lived too far away.”  Think what you will, but I believe something about my Catholicism prompted that move.  How very Christian of her to judge me …

Incident #2 –  An interviewer pointed out my engagement ring and said, “Oh.  You’re engaged.  When are you planning to get married?”   She didn’t ask in an “I’m so excited.  I love weddings!” type of way either … Yikes.

Incident #3 –  I went on a second interview (my first interview was by phone) when I was just about 7 months pregnant.  Not the most ideal time to interview, I know, but pregnant women cannot be discriminated against legally.  Did I expect to get the position?  No.  I figured my pregnancy would scare them off, but what I didn’t expect was for the interviewer to make specific comments about my pregnancy and the “challenges it would present” because they “needed someone who could hit the ground running” and “be more available.”  A few other comments were made, but I’ve conveniently allowed them to leave my memory, so not to remain bitter.  (Although, I am bitter.)  The worst part?  The interviewer was a woman.  Wasn’t she supposed to be on my team?

Incident #4 –  This incident happened just recently.  One interviewer asked, “Are you married?  I thought I saw a wedding ring?”  Tsk. Tsk.  You cannot ask a person’s marital status.  In his quasi-defense, I did ask if the position offered full benefits and he answered my question with a question about my marital status.  However, it was still none of his business.  I didn’t get the job.  I got my letter saying “thanks, but no thanks” yesterday.  Can I say that I was discriminated against?  Not entirely, but I was asked an illegal question that had no relevance in terms of my ability to complete the duties of the job successfully .

There have been other times throughout my almost year-long job search that I have come across clueless interviewers who ask illegal questions.  And while sometimes I think I should opt to not wear my wedding ring, I’m not comfortable doing that.  There’s no shame in being a young professional whose married and has a child.  I don’t want to work for someone who thinks there’s something wrong with that.
My general feeling is that in an employer’s mind, marriage means the possibility of children and children mean the possibility of child care issues, a child’s illness, and other distractions and time off  from work.   Do I think it’s right?  Absolutely not.  I’m not a crazed feminist and I’m far from being considered liberal, but what’s with the sexism?

Which brings me to the Sarah Palin issue … Whatever your political affiliation, whatever your opinions about Sarah Palin’s policies, the fact that she is a mother should not be used as an argument against her and her ability.  Those who question the intentions and the capacity of a woman with children as a successful candidate for VP or any job make me sick.   They’re no better than the slew of people I’ve come across in my job search who feel that motherhood and marriage are an employment handicap.

And so, my search continues …