I interviewed for a job a few weeks ago that seemed like it could be my dream job…if there’s such a thing, given that I’d have to make my own company, Golden Door Consulting, my part-time gig, if I took it. That’s how almost-perfect this job sounded, so I was delighted when they invited me in for an interview.
My first interview was with Human Resources, a nice young lady who kept telling me how impressed she was with my résumé. I thought, “So, we’re off to a good start.”
We chatted awhile about the job requirements, the people who would be on my team, and the company’s culture…and the company culture conversation is where things got tricky.
Nice HR Chick mentioned that she had Googled me and came across this blog. Then she said that it was great that I’m single because the two other women I’d be working with are married with young children. Screeching brakes sound in my head. What is she implying? First of all, you can’t discuss marital status as a job requirement. It’s illegal. But more importantly, what was her point? That I would be expected to take up the slack for them because my home life wouldn’t be making demands on me? Au contraire, Naive HR lady. I have a very full home life, it just doesn’t involve a husband or kids. But it’s every bit as important to me.
Before I could respond, she caught herself and apologized for her slip. She tried to clean it up by saying something about diversity in the workplace being good for everyone. Yeah, right.
So I played along. I wasn’t going to ruin what seemed like a good thing just because at least one person thinks the single lady is going to be the fill-in whenever there’s a school play or appointment with the pediatrician.
As it turns out, this wasn’t my dream job after all because they made the decision to move the position to their Los Angeles office and I’m not willing to relocate. But it reminded me of something I always suspected when I had a “real” job: being single and child free means always-available…to some. I got really good at having ever-ready excuses as to why I wasn’t available, either.
This conversation was really timely, as the blogosphere, online and print magazines, and tv shows everywhere are discussing women’s roles and behaviors in the workplace, spurred by Sheryl Sandberg’s new book, Lean In, about what women need to do to fare better in the workplace, and Marissa Meyers, Yahoo’s new CEO who had a nursery built in her office but is cutting out the opportunity for others to work from home. (I know; that was a really long sentence). These conversations have mostly left single women without kids out of the conversation and, instead, focus on wives and mothers. It’s been interesting to watch from afar.
But the HR lady let me know what she thinks about people like me. I wonder how many others do, too.