“I have a brain and a uterus, and I use both.”
I am an adjunct English instructor at a local community college. I truly enjoy what I do, and I especially like the fact that I am only away from my daughter about 15 hours a week. Yesterday, I interviewed for an additional position at the same college, just in a different department. The new position would not change my overall time commitment, it would just mean that I would split work across two programs.
To make a long story short, I was interviewed by a panel of three people. I was asked four or five questions about my experience and background, and the final question was “Do you have kids?” According to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), it is illegal to ask interviewees about marital, family, or pregnancy status during an interview. It is also illegal to ask questions about age, race, gender or sex, country of national origin or birth place, religion, disability.
I knew this question was illegal, but I answered it anyway. “Yes. I have a 14 month old.” I could immediately see the interviewers mentally check out of the interview. “14 month old” seemed to translate into “I am going to miss a lot of work because of illnesses and babysitter scheduling problems,” or “I am only going to be around until I get pregnant again,” or any of the other misconceptions people have about working mothers. Let’s just say that the interview ended very quickly after this question.
(My thoughts exactly…)
This was the first time that I had ever felt a tug between my personal and work lives. I refuse to hide the most important part of my life (my child) for a job, but I am also annoyed that I was asked an inappropriate question and received, in my opinion, an inappropriate response. As I spiraled into a fit of irritation, I asked myself if all of the interviewees for the position were asked the same question, or if that question was hand-picked for me because I happen to have an awesome set of child-bearing hips and appear to be of reproductive age?
The thing is, I am proud to be both a parent and a member of the workforce/academic community. So far, I have been able to effectively utlizie both my brain and my uterus, and I don’t intend on stopping that amazing (insert sarcasm here) multi-tasking now.
The ending to this story is relatively anti-climatic. I left the interview and came home to my daughter where she did not ask me any uncomfortable questions and accepted me just the way I am…as her mama.