• Subject: FW: Overt Age-ism
  • From: burelle@xxxxxxxx
  • Date: Mon, 8 Nov 1999 8:04:43 -0500

Debbie;

You're right, things seem to get better the longer a woman is in this business. 
 I remember on my first job my manager used to ask 'Would your husband mind if 
I sent you out of town for a meeting?', I would always answer 'What does my 
husband have to do with MY job!?'.  He (the manager) always bragged about how 
'open-minded' he was, but he thought nothing about asking the two 'girls' 
personal questions but when we asked him why he didn't talk to the operator 
about his obvious (they found him sleeping in the cafeteria one morning, and 
there were beer cans under his desk) drinking problem, he said it was too 
personal to talk about!

Jo Ann
 ----------
From: dgallagher@deloitte.ca
To: Midrange-L@midrange.com
Subject: RE: Overt Age-ism
Date: Sunday, November 07, 1999 11:50PM

Hank:

I am surprised at how few responses you received. Must be few minorities
or
women or old guys on this list!

My own experience is that I used to have a lot more trouble than I do now
due to
being a woman. We are more accepted now than we used to be. I am now forty
three, and found that I had a lot of trouble with hiring in my twenties,
and
the
trouble is now much reduced. When I get to be your age (please tell me
you're
older than forty four), I will have to develop a strategy for ageism.

The way I handled the sexism was to question how exactly their concern
translated into my ability or inability to do the job. For example, I was
routinely asked, "Where does your husband work?", "Are you married?", "Do
you
have children?" My response was generally something like: "Why are you
interested in my husband's employment? In what way do you expect it to
affect my
ability to do this job?"

Then, based on the reply, I would determine whether it was someone I could
work
for or not - for example, if the interviewer's response is to apologize,
turn
red, and stammer something stupid like "Um, well, let's say he worked for
a
bank, then maybe he'd be transferred in six months and you'd leave". So, I
restate: "So, what you really want to know is whether or not I plan to
stay
for
at least six months if I take this job." Interviewer (embarrassed) agrees
that
he didn't really mean to ask about my husband's job, only about my
employment
intentions. I answer the restated question with "I plan to stay for six
months
if hired to work on this implementation." This is someone I might be able
to
work with, perhaps not amicably, but at least I know he's manageable.

When the same situation occurs in another potential place of employment,
the
interviewer doesn't back down, but declares himself self-righteously being
sociable, only asking to be friendly. I then answer a completely different
but
obviously sociable question - for example "Yes it was a lovely day outside
today, but I think it may rain later this afternoon". He thinks I am being
unsociable and obtuse, and I decide that this is no place for me to work.
I
am
relieved that he and I agree on that - he obviously doesn't like me
either.

More frequently, the bias is unstated and it's not possible to deal with
it.
For
example, I discovered when I was hiring that when the headhunters heard
the
phrase "Must have good communication skills", and translated it as a code
which
I didn't mean.  I meant the candidate had to have the ability to speak and
be
heard clearly on the phone and in writing (there was a lot of
long-distance
interaction required in the job). However, the headhunter heard, must be
white.
Apparently it was a widely used "code" in the industry at the time. It
took
me a
while to clarify with the headhunter exactly what was meant.

You may be just stuck with the age-ism thing, unless the potential clients
can
clarify what your age has to do with the contract. Then you have an
opportunity
to answer. There will be lots of times when you don't even know it's an
issue.
Your point about this being your first experience with discrimination was
interesting. There are many who wish that age-ism was their first
experience.
That doesn't make your feelings any less. Just later than some others.

What I always hung on to was that the best revenge was to do the best job
I
could for someone else and make sure the smart employer (client) got their
money's worth. The company that overlooks good talent loses.

Debbie Gallagher
dgallagher@deloitte.ca
 --------------------------------------------------
Original Message
 --------------------------------------------------
Date: Fri, 5 Nov 1999 15:30:13 EST
From: HankHeath@aol.com
Subject: Overt age-ism

<snip>

I was told at two different places that I was too old for the
contract. Straight out. Now, in the world of work, that would be an
illegal
thing to say. But in the world of consulting, apparently it's ok to say. I
was shocked. I was angry. It was the first time in my life I was
discriminated for anything other than lack of experience or training (easy
things for me to overcome).

I . . .now I am starting to understand (just starting, thank you) why
minorities
and
women get testy about this. It is not a good feeling.

Hank Heath
HLHeath Consulting
Ph: 801-209-0091
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