Butch Demeanor in Job Interviews
OMG. I just got word that I didn't get a job I really, really wanted because the boss-to-be thought that I would be "too much of a leader" and insufficiently deferential. Problems with this assessment include:
I've been thinking about this quite a bit since I heard it earlier today. After some reflection, I told my "inside source" that I think the problem might have had partly to do with gender. That is, women are expected to act in a certain way. By showing up in a women's suit, etc., I made it look like I was trying to "do femininity," but that I was doing it wrong.
If this is true--and my inside source (herself an incredibly smart, assertive, feminine woman) thinks it might be--then the solution might be to make it clear that I am not attempting to "do" femininity at all. Maybe if I wear a men's suit and even a tie, it will be clear that I am trying to "do" masculinity.
In truth, I am not trying to "do" anything but be the best possible version of myself. But I wonder if, subconsciously, my would-be boss (though extremely progressive) understood me as a woman, judging me by implicitly comparing me to other women. If I wore guys' clothes, I would be putting myself more firmly in the "masculine" category. Not that I would be judged as a man, but rather that I might be judged more by a masculine standard, meaning that my apparent lack of deference(!) would be judged compared to men, not to women, and thus looked upon more favorably, since assertiveness is a quality more valued in men.
Either way, depressing.
It will cost me until I legally can change my sex and gender markers. Soon I will be returning to school, and I can use that as part of the RLE (if the whichever doc I finally get still follows it), and then this will no longer be a problem for me. I am tired of compromising who I am. Even if I live in a state that protects on the basis of gender identity and expression, doesn't mean employers might not simply choose someone else and lie through their teeth that someone is more "qualified" than me. Once I graduate with my degree in my preferred name, given I am entering the STEM fields, while mostly male also filled with plenty of gay and trans men, my merits and resume should be all that matter...hopefully!
8/12/2014 11:35:30 am
I realize this is a job you wanted very much, but do you *really* want to work for a boss who values your subordination that highly? He clearly wants a yes-butch more than he wants a qualified employee who will get stuff done. No thank you, sir-and-or-ma'am.
8/12/2014 02:08:11 pm
In the end I also went with the masculine attire. This helped with the first day of work, not shocking people by being dressed differently than my interview. When I hired people I didn't care what they wore or how many tattoos or piercings they had. I wanted them to care about the job. Not all bosses worry about that. Some just want 'control' over the staff.
It sucks to not get a job you want. Some people want to hire individuals they feel they can relate to (or a carbon copy of some idealized view of themselves as a junior employee), and you can't control that. They think that lots of people have the credentials for the job and that it is not important to get the best technical person but the best person for their team. For some people queers just don't cut it- it may be generational - and some guys don't like masculine women.
It was a woman, actually, but your point still stands.
8/13/2014 03:17:42 am
Very sorry to hear you didn't get this, but wow... "insufficiently deferential"? How does that even come up in an interview unless the person is insecure of their position of power? Maybe she's had problems with insubordination... maybe because she's a bad leader. Who knows. As a Lead, I try to work *with* people and assume people want to be here, enjoying what they do. Those that don't cooperate with the team are counseled, put on an action plan, and eventually let go if things don't improve. But that's rare. You do not seem like a person who has a motivation problem at all. Best of luck with the next one. Sounds like maybe loosing this one was a gift.
8/13/2014 10:28:06 pm
I am very sorry you did not get the job. It is sad that we still live in a world where non traditional gender identities still cause discomfort for people. (who and how these get defined is a whole other discussion)
8/13/2014 10:31:42 pm
correction......on some subliminal level the realization surfaces that to bond over something like nail polish or pedicures may not happen...
8/14/2014 08:34:52 am
It is so difficult... As I read it, if you didn't do femininity 'right', so it was seen as not deferential enough, being more masculine wouldn't help, as that could come across as being even more powerful relative to the prospective boss...
8/16/2014 11:11:30 am
Tis the honest to god truth, I've gotten jobs wearing women's garb and was instantly forced into an uncomfortable position sculpted by views of "feminine" workers, and it's been enough to have to quit. Dress completely the way you want to present, I'd say.
8/29/2014 02:02:58 pm
This is a very smart analysis of the situation. Thank you for talking about this stuff! Whoa! Sexism is alive and very very well. To Charlie: We should be careful that we are still fighting sexism and not simply opting to benefit from it. Maybe that's not what you meant, but it's how it sounds. - mary
2/19/2016 02:29:35 am
I dressed in men's dress pants, a button down Oxford shirt and a tie for my last job interview, and it went very well. I was comfortable and felt confident in how I looked, and I would have felt extremely uncomfortable in a 'women's suit.' For reference- I live in MA and it's a typically male dominated field with a uniform. I find that my personality comes across less butch than people seem to expect from my style, but I'm absolutely more comfortable in clothing designated for men. I'm not sure if this helped or hurt me, but as I said the interview went well and I got the job. I always felt very uncomfortable trying to 'do femininity' to use your terms. :) I'm very comfortable in my identity as female, I am just simultaneously very intentionally masculine-presenting. (I get 'sir'ed on a constant basis, especially at work, but it doesn't bother me at all.)
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