I was at a networking event. As I was walking around I saw a couple deep in conversation. As I passed them I heard the man say, “She should not work there. No woman should take that job.” For obvious reasons, I was curious.
I introduced myself, explained my curiosity, and asked, “What job shouldn’t women take?”
(By the way, they introduced themselves to me and it turned out they were married.)
The husband explained that he was talking about their daughter and it was not so much the job as the company.
What was the problem with the company?
He told me that when his daughter returned from her job interview she had said that she liked the job, the people seemed nice, but there were only half a dozen employees and they were all men. She’d be the only female working there.
They asked me my opinion.
I told them that I agreed that she should turn them down. It was clearly a startup so, possibly, another woman would be hired in a relatively short period of time. But, I told them about two male career counseling clients who I had, who had accepted jobs at similar companies where they were the only males on staff. They hated it and left after a few months.
It is very difficult to be the only one of your gender in the office. I know because I’ve had it happen to me, sort of. All of the employees in my physical office were women but there were plenty of men in the company. When the door to the office suite was closed, and I was alone with the ladies, all of whom were very nice, I would go nuts having to listen to their conversations. Usually, I would shut the door to my office solving one problem but causing another. They would be insulted.
It’s funny/ironic: Being the only person of a specific religion or nationality is not a problem. Even being the only person with a disability or health-related disorder is not a problem. But being the only person with or without a Y chromosome can be a totally different story.
I am certain there are cases where things work out very well for that lonely representative of their gender, but I don’t know of any. In fact, I know of one non-profit that had only one male employee and, because they were worried about losing him, when a position became available they specifically looked for a male candidate. And, no, that’s not discrimination, it’s diversification.
Bruce Hurwitz is an executive recruiter and career counselor. He has helped scores (thousands if you include attendees at his presentations) of people, including veterans, not only change jobs but, on occasion, change careers. Having successfully transitioned from academia to non-profits to the recruiting industry, he has been there and done that!
Bruce is a recognized authority on job search and career issues, having been quoted in over 700 articles, appearing in some 500 publications, across the United States and in more than 30 foreign countries. His posts on LinkedIn have been read over 330,000 times and have garnered national and international media attention, including television appearances on Fox Business Network and Headline News (CNN).
In addition to serving on the Board of Directors of the Manhattan Chamber of Commerce, he co-chairs their Entrepreneurship Council, hosts their weekly podcast – The Voice of Manhattan Business – and serves as an Ambassador.
An advocate for the protection of job seekers, visit the homepage of his website, www.hsstaffing.com, to read about questionable offerings of so-called job search assistance companies and to learn about his upcoming speaking engagements.