Friday, June 08, 2007

Sexism and the Apprentice

The process for getting Brentwood's most popular job is under fire over the questions asked of the two female candidates. Specifically, Katie Hopkins and Kristina Grimes were both quizzed over their family commitments.

Liberal Democrat women's spokesperson Lorely Burt ... "This is a classic example of the kind of casual discrimination still faced by working women every day."

and from Brendan Barber from the TUC said:

"had last night been a genuine interview, Kristina and Katie could have had real grounds for complaint against Sir Alan".

Except for one minor problem. Kristina was put through to the final, and it was (according to the show) Katie who chose not to join her there. It's a bit difficult to claim the decision not to "hire" you was sexist, when you were in fact hired.

Now, it is certainly the case that we didn't see the male candidates being quizzed over their family commitments, but two of them didn't have families and the one that did lived in Loughton, which is practically next door to Brentwood anyway.

More to the point - it was Kristina who raised the subject of her family commitments - "my son has grown up, and now I have the freedom to do what I really want and to take the extra risks" is a fair paraphrase of one of the things she said during the interview.

So this leaves us with Katie - now, I could be wrong, but as a married man with a young child, I would expect that if I were to interview for a job in Manchester (or maybe even Devon) then the employer might well ask about the impact of such a move on my family. This is a relevant concern to the employer - if my wife and kids are not happy with the idea of moving to a different area, this could have a significant impact on the amount of time I'll spend working for them. The idea that this is not of concern to an employer is ridiculous - he or she should be allowed to ask questions about the impact of relocation on the candidate's family, regardless of the gender of the candidate. Katie was the only candidate with a family that would have had to relocate - the questions didn't seem particularly outrageous to me.

Remember also, that earlier in the series, a candidate was fired because his family commitments were preventing him working effectively.

As for the quotes - it does seem it's yet another case of politicans seeing a bandwagon and trying to jump on.

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