Stories That People Tell Me — The Interview Question

The awkward moment

More than 10 years ago one of my friends went to a job interview, looking for a permanent placement upon completing her engineering degree. She passed all interview phases in flying colors until she was asked to respond the following question:

“You’re a woman, and naturally, eventually you’re going to get pregnant and have a baby to take care of. Men don’t have this issue. How would you make sure that you are as productive as your male colleagues?”

She didn’t end up working for that company. She still doesn’t have kids, and is now a successful executive in another industry and another role.

Incidentally, I got to visit two companies in that business group on this trip to Brazil. On both visits their HR team was explaining to me that what mattered most to the group is meritocracy and the reason why they have so few women was that the preference for hiring from engineering schools, which are majority male.

By the way, my friend’s current issue (according to feedback she received from superiors and peers) is that she’s so talented, has great education and experience, and always has important things to say in meetings so people are just jealous of her and she should manage this better.