Women and the Hiring Process

Over winter break, I met up with a friend from high school at our place of late-night sugar rushes, IHOP. Over crepes and ridiculously large hot chocolates, we caught up on each other’s lives.

Part of that conversation has stuck with me. I was talking with her about how I was starting to apply for summer internships. There was an opportunity at a local museum that my mom was pushing me to apply for, but I was hesitant. I wasn’t sure if I had enough experience for the museum to seriously consider my application. My friend advised me to go ahead with applying, even if I wasn’t sure. She told me about how women are typically less likely to apply for opportunities if they don’t think they meet all the job requirements. It got me thinking: why do women decide not to take chances on certain job opportunities?

According to an internal report from Hewlett Packard, men will apply for a job when they meet only 60 percent of qualifications. Women, on the other hand, will only apply if they meet 100 percent of them. Some ascribe this to the sexist narrative that women simply need more confidence when looking for a job, and they leave it at that. But that’s not the whole story.

Harvard Business Review writer Tara Sophia Mohr published an article about this phenomenon. Mohr surveyed over a thousand American male and female professionals and asked them what deterred them from applying for jobs. The data shows that women aren’t suffering from a lack of confidence in their capabilities. They’re realistically thinking about the role sexism plays in the workplace. Women believe that if they don’t meet all the qualifications, they won’t be hired.

Women feel a lot of pressure to go by the book. They feel like they have to prove themselves to be seen as equal. Historically, women have had to earn degrees and certificates to prove that they are capable of doing work. This prevalent gender bias leads to a lot of women striving to reach more qualifications than their male counterparts for a chance to be considered equally.

Women continue to see the job market as a place where they are only allowed to bring their skills and experience to the table to get hired. In reality, though, as we progress as a society, the hiring process has become less by the book and more of a process where advocacy and creativity in framing your expertise plays an important role.

With the museum internship, I was convinced I wouldn’t even be considered. I felt too young and too inexperienced. I hadn’t considered that if I presented myself as someone eager to get their foot in the door, I might have a chance. So what do I want all of you ambitious, badass business women to take away from this? Just  f***king go for it. Don’t be so caught up on what appears to be the rules. They’re made for breaking!