I Liked Her Better Than I Thought I Would // Natalie Berigan

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Over the summer, I worked as a secretary at a small chemical manufacturing company.  I had just graduated from college, and I had been unable to find a full-time job.  I spent 3 months in the manufacturing plant, and I was 1 of 2 females that worked at the company.  When it came time for me to move on to a new job, I was charged with finding my replacement.  I posted the position on a few college job boards throughout the metropolitan area.  Over the next few days, we received a handful of applications from hopeful students.  The first was a young male athlete that had an average GPA and minimal experience.  When I presented his resume to my male boss, he enthusiastically told me that he would give him a call that day.  Next was a resume from an older female student that did not have the technical skills to fill the position—she was out. The final resume was from a young, female Muslim student. She was pursuing an accounting degree, had experience with the Accounting software that we used at the company, and had clerical experience.  In my mind, she was the most qualified applicant we had.  I walked downstairs and handed the application to my boss. He chuckled at the pronunciation of the name on top of the resume. “Is it bad I don’t want a foreigner?” he asked. My mouth dropped open. I had never witnessed blatant discrimination like this in my life. “Well, schedule a time for her to come in, I guess we at least have to give her an interview,” he said. I scheduled a time for her to come in.
On the day of the interview, I walked into a room where my boss and his brother (it was a family-run business) were fixing lights in one of the office rooms.  My boss began making jokes about the female applicant that was coming in later.  He started speaking in a mock-Arabic accent and laughed about it.  I was in shock.  She never had a chance.  Before she even stepped foot in the office, she was out. Why? Because she was a Muslim female.
Finally, it was time for the interview. “Are you familiar with QuickBooks?” my boss asked. “Yes, I used that software at my previous job,” she replied.  The rest of the interview went smoothly, and she was able to answer all of his questions adequately.  After I escorted her out, I asked my boss what he thought about her. “I liked her more than I thought I would,” he replied. “So are you going to hire her?” I asked. “I can’t have someone with an accent and strange dress answering phones up there,” he responded.  I was outraged. I told him that she was the most qualified person that we had, and that it was not right for him to not even consider her for the position.  I had also sat in on the interview with the jock, and the Muslim female applicant was far more qualified. And then I realized that no matter what I said, she was never going to be hired. She was Muslim, and a woman.
This was the first time in my life that I had ever witnessed blatant discrimination.  It made me sick to my stomach. I realized that no matter how much more qualified a woman is than a man, she is still not on equal footing. There are a lot of male and female bosses that champion women in the workplace.  However, discrimination still exists.  It is our duty to future generations to change this. It starts with having the courage to stand up for discrimination, and using your voice for those that are not heard. It also begins with women staying in the workplace while they raise children, and fighting tooth and nail for upper management positions that they are equally qualified for.  Do not take a backseat to gender discrimination. Fight for gender equality.

Written by Natalie Berigan

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