Pizza Girl: Hidden Biases in Hiring

I’m going to diverge from posting poems for a moment, and instead post an opinion piece. This is the first of two, which are for the sake of my application to Opine Season.

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Pizza Girl: Hidden Biases in Hiring

Everyone loves pizza. I know. I make it for a national-chain restaurant, and I’m good at it. Very good. If you walked in the door while I was spinning dough one-handed, you probably would think so, too. I take pride in my work, and I work hard.

What I don’t like so much is that most days, I am the only woman in the store.

I don’t really think that my company has an actively gender-biased hiring policy, in fact I’ve found the same to be true in most of the low-wage jobs I’ve held. I’ve operated in different capacities at several locations in the metro, and found that at best, the female:male employee ratio is around 40:60. That’s at best.

This article in the Human Resource Management Report, from 2011, discusses the need to raise awareness that there are hidden biases in the hiring practices of many employers. Interestingly, the only comment on the article criticizes its tone: “This article is solely from a feminist perspective. The feminist assumption that women know how men think and that men’s motives are selfish and flawed is found in every paragraph.”

Meanwhile, I found the article relatively timid. Of course, awareness is important–but there’s no way that you could see me surrounded by men–many of whom are competent, hard workers, some of whom are not, and suggest that the gender bias doesn’t exist. As a woman, I am inclined to see the greenhouse of myriad-leveled glass ceilings, continuing to encourage the growth of male-dominance.

The commenter quoted above is just another flourishing weed of garden-variety patriarchy, expressing in an instant that feminism is bad: women shouldn’t express an opinion with their own voices, but with the voices acceptable to men’s precious ears.

And speaking of voice, I have a deep one. Having lost my tonsils early, and done a fair bit of damage by smoking, I don’t sound like a perky cheerleader. I took a call recently where the customer accused me of lying about my gender. To what end?

I’ve likewise been told that I “act like I own the place,” which, were I a man, would be a compliment. But my competency and sense of self-possession while at work is apparently too threatening to some.

So, the industry’s a boy’s club. And I tend to fit in. I’m fat and have a Mohawk (which is not on-display while working). But I don’t suppose it’s any wonder that men might have a problem, because god-forbid I should be comfortable outside the hetero-normative standards of appearance.

The fascinating part for me is that much of my gender-queer persona was created as a way to “fit in” to the boy’s club. I never associated as well with female peers as a girl, and took to playing pool and video games in college, because the guys were more fun to hang out with. I rarely wear makeup or skirts.

I was never pushed to fit into a gender stereotype as a child: I played with dolls and trucks, just the same. I can build a bookcase, bake a cake, grill a steak, and knit a sweater.

Oh, and I can make a damn fine pizza, too. I’m not the only woman who can–but it’s hard to prove that point, if women can’t be hired and receive the training necessary for the job.

And why aren’t women encouraged to excel? I only got an opportunity to advance when I worked for a female manager.

Will wonders ever cease?

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