Applying for a job after college?

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Here’s a little something that I’m sure your career services department didn’t tell you. Please print in your paper. Knowing about this will make a difference to the women who will graduate soon. Thanks – Kiki

Women and Children First by: Kiki Peppard

This expression was first used years ago when it came to disasters such as the Titanic. Commanding orders were heard to fill life boats with “women and children first!” How heart wrenching the scenes in many catastrophes when those cries were heard. Families were separated never knowing whether they would be joined together ever again. Historically during catastrophes, mothers were left to raise children on their own without the help of a husband or a father. How we pitied these women back then and their struggles to hold their family together – what was left of it.

Fast forward to 2002. Times have changed as well as our vocabulary and emotional attachment to the survival of single women with children. The words pity and save that was previously used to describe them has been replaced with the words like “discriminate” or “sacrifice”.

Rather than being shown compassion as in years past, single women with children in this millennium are now sacrificed and discriminated against in the hiring process. Employers have been manipulating the letter of a 1955 law that does not prohibit them from asking invasive questions during a job interview. They are refusing to hire single women with children on the false presumption that “single women with children take too much time off from work”. This ignorant and archaic belief is forcing thousands of women and children into poverty.

Single female parenthood is now considered a sign of the times and a more prevalent way of life than one previously thought. While society coddles some single male parents with hordes of baked casseroles to help them get by, and open invitations of car pools to sporting events for their children to help them out, more single women parents then men are forced to their own defenses to feed and raise their family. To add insult women get to earn less money than their male counter parts when it comes to financially supporting their family alone.

While we can’t change everyone’s attitude or emotional vocabulary to describe the difficulties and struggles of the single female parent, we can certainly work to create equality in the hiring process. Right now there is a bill in the State House Government Committee being considered for release to the House of Representatives for a vote. House Bill Number 1718 will make it illegal for an employer to ask an interviewee (male or female) about their marital or familial status. In other words, it would finally be illegal to ask a woman during a job interview if she’s married or if she has children. Besides the obvious fact that answers to these questions are totally irrelevant to ANY position, it will allow everyone an opportunity to interview for a job based on their education, working experience and skills. No longer would employers legally be allowed to arbitrarily discriminate against a single parent with the misguided assumption that they can’t get to work on time or must lose time off from work to care for a sick child.

Do children get sick? Yes they do. Does that mean every single female parent will lose time from work as a result? No it does not.

Americans are living longer – but not necessarily better lives. Statistically, there are more employees caring for their sick, elderly parents then back in the days of the Titanic. Do they have to take time off from work to run home at lunch to make sure Mom or Dad took their medication? Maybe some – not all.

Do employees get sick? Yes, some do – not all. Should employers refuse to hire people who won’t get a flu shot because they have the potential for getting sick? Where does the discrimination in interview questions end? Where did it even start?

More people are choosing a single life style and are adopting pets. Do they have to be home at a certain time everyday to walk their dogs and do these same people refuse overtime so their pet won’t have an “accident” at home? Maybe some – not all.

Shall we refuse to hire people from these categories as well? Should questions during job interviews legally include: are you married, do you have an elderly parent you must care for, do you have pets? Whatever happened to, “how fast can you type?”

We are all human beings subject to illnesses, our own and our families. Families these days do include elderly parents and to some, their pets are their family. We are human beings (not robots) and deserve to be treated as such with dignity and respect. Employers need to learn to accept individuals with life’s circumstances – good and bad. We are still productive individuals in and out of the workplace.

We are caregivers and sometimes care has to happen between 9 to 5. As such, this fact does not mean that employers have the right to single out one particular category of individuals by discriminating against selecting them as potential employees. It is a sad thing to say, but we now need laws to protect those very people we used to pity. Women and children are being forced on welfare and into poverty because of our existing archaic laws.

You have an opportunity to change this in Pennsylvania. Write a letter today to your representative and your senator. Tell them that you want House Bill Number 1718 and Senate Bill Number 1261 passed. These bills will offer the protection ALL individuals are entitled to when interviewing for a job.

If you are a student, or a parent of a college student, when graduation time rolls around, what matters- the diploma? How does it feel to know that an employer may be more interested in knowing if you have a marriage license? After all, if you’re a single woman, will he have to pay for your health insurance or is he counting on you having a husband to take care of that. Kiss the value of the diploma good-bye. Did you know that despite spending 4 or more years struggling to maintain the highest grades you can, the first thing an employer can legally ask you when you present your resume is – are you pregnant? When are you planning on getting pregnant? This is legal. Sad – but true. And it happens every single day in PA!

We have to change the attitudes about potential employers and we can’t do that until we change the laws. Single female parents don’t want pity – they want to survive. Every woman who lost her husband on September 11th is also entitled to the dignity of interviewing for a job without being asked, “do you have a husband”. New York, New Jersey, Washington DC and only 16 other states legally forbid an employer from asking a person about their marital or familial status during a job interview – why not us? It’s been working for them and they hire quite a few more thousand people that we do and they don’t seem to be having problems. What’s holding us back? Prejudice? Prejudgment?

Please write to your representative today. If you don’t know who they are, call your League of Women Voters or go on line to Make a difference. You can you know.

We don’t need any more disasters to teach us that we need to consider what is happening to our women and children today. We are living in a disaster right now – every single day when we are forcing hard working, eligible people into poverty and out of the workforce. Thank you for your help and support – it is really needed. Your letter DOES COUNT. It’s time we started treating people, all people, like human beings. It’s time our politicians remember that they are supposed to be people first and think about people first.

Respectfully submitted,Kiki Peppard1621 Starry Lane, Effort, PA e-mail: [email protected] #: 570-422-3553Home#: 570-620-8748