8 Signs The Company You're Interviewing With Treats Women Terribly

Job Interview


AnnaMarie Houlis
AnnaMarie Houlis
April 13, 2024 at 7:23PM UTC
So you got a call back for a job interview — congratulations! After sending what feels like millions of applications out into the abyss of the internet, networking on LinkedIn for weeks or even months on end and rewriting your cover letter a thousand times, getting a call back is exciting.
The next move is to prepare by practicing interview questions, researching the company and your interviewers, and getting all of your materials together. But remember: A job interview is a two-way street. As much as they need to decide on you, you need to decide on them, too.
When you get to the interview, there are sure to be some subtleties that'll key you in on whether or not the company is a good fit for you. One determining factor should be how well the company seems to treat women. So here are some red flags that the company does not treat women well — and that you might need to get back to those applications.

1. The interviewer calls women in the office "girls."

If the interview is calling women in the office "girls," this is a major red flag. Calling women "girls" is condescending and negates the professionalism of women in the office — it's a form of benevolent sexism, which are comments that seem innocent but are rooted in paternalistic prejudice (treating a lower status group as a father might treat a child). You'll seldom hear anyone referring to men in the office as "boys," after all.

2. There's a noticeable lack of women in the office.

If there are few women in the office, it may be because the company doesn't hire them or because a company does hire them, but few women stick around. A company that treats women well is one that's committed to diversity, and that will be obvious by the looks of the place before all else.

3. There's a noticeable lack of women in leadership positions.

Likewise, if you don't notice many women in leadership positions, it might be a red flag that the company doesn't promote women. Studies show that there are far more men in leadership than women, but the companies that do promote women find success. According to Catalyst, women currently hold 26 (or 5.2 percent) CEO positions at S&P 500 companies. There's a ton of room for improvement here, and any company with a commitment to diversity and an understanding of how to attract and retain female talent will give women equal opportunities to move up — and they'll also understand that more women in management is even profitable.

4. The company is poorly rated on Fairygodboss

You can check out real reviews on companies from women who've worked there right here on Fairygodboss. Check out what women have to say about the company's maternity leave policies, flexibility, room for growth, etc. If a company has consistently poor comments, that's a major cause for concern. Check out company reviews here.

5. The interviewer asks you about your family plans.

It's considered discriminatory behavior for an interviewer to ask women about their family plans during the interview process. Asking questions on this topic lead to charges of discrimination, an investigation by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and, if necessary,  a lawsuit. 

6. The office floor plan makes you uncomfortable.

Studies show that office floorplans can have a major impact on how women feel in their workspaces. Open floorplans, for example, give some women an uneasy feeling that they're always being watched. They've also been criticized for making hierarchal structures less obvious, so women who do hold leadership positions aren't met with as much respect. Open floorplans cause someone to dress differently to make their status know.

7. The interviewer touts your personality over your experiences.

If an interviewer has done research on you and comments on your personality they got a feel for through your social media channels or just from speaking with you off the bat, it might seem like a compliment. But if they neglect to comment on your experiences and why you'd be a great fit for the role for which you're applying, that's a red flag. This puts you in a box of prescribed gender roles — studies show that women are deemed more "likable" when they subscribe to passivity because it's stereotypical and expected. You don't want to work for someone who puts you in a box instead of applauding your hard work.

8. There is no clear room for growth.

If there's no room for growth, you might want to reconsider the company altogether. Women have a hard enough time moving up in companies, so if you ask them where they'd see you in five years if you perform well, and they don't have answers for you, that might mean you'll be in the same spot.
AnnaMarie Houlis is a feminist, a freelance journalist and an adventure aficionado with an affinity for impulsive solo travel. She spends her days writing about women’s empowerment from around the world. You can follow her work on her blog, HerReport.org, and follow her journeys on Instagram @her_report, Twitter @herreport and Facebook.

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