41% of women asked 'inappropriate' questions in job interviews
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New research reveals that 41% of British women and 12% of men have been asked ‘inappropriate’ questions in a job interview. Respondents to a survey cited questions about their relationship status, sexual orientation, and lifestyle habits, as some of the more commonly asked questions they felt were irrelevant and inappropriate in interview. Women were most likely to be asked about their marital or relationship status (27%), followed by their age (25%) and their future family plans (23%), whereas although men were also likely to be asked about their marital status (9%), this was followed by lifestyle habits such as drinking and smoking (7%), and their sexuality (7%). UCLU Women’s Officer Natalie James expressed dismay at the amount of gendered questions reported, telling The National Student that “Women’s groups, both inside and outside the student movement, have spent a lot of time combatting sexism at work by challenging discrimination and harassment, and encouraging the promotion of women to leadership roles, but problems do still exist for women. “It’s often the so-called small things: assumptions that women of a certain age will want to start a family; the misconceptions that women aren’t interested in more demanding and traditionally-male fields of work; the way women’s use of language is policed and attacked for not being assertive enough. "We can see the effect of this in the way that women students feel about their future careers – studies show they are significantly less likely than men to feel they will have the opportunities to progress as far as they wish in their chosen career.” Under the Equality Act 2010, it’s against the law to ask about age, sexual orientation, religious belief, marital status, or whether candidates have, or plan to have, children, during the interview process. It’s also illegal to reject candidates based on these characteristics, as well as on the basis of gender or race. Some of the common inappropriate questions found by the study are legally discrimination, and therefore liable to legal claims in court, or in an employment tribunal. Charles Taylor, CEO of Debut Careers, who conducted the study, commented, “We were disappointed to find that so many people still experience inappropriate questions in an interview situation,” and asdded that the gender disparity was particularly worrying. He added, “We tend to believe that the playing field is becoming more level, but this could well be a mistake according to these results,” which point to subconscious gender biases on the part of interviewers.
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