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Anti-Male Discrimination in the Workplace

by A.N.Onymous

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I am a telecommunications technology sales professional. I recently became interested in taking a position with US West as they are unveiling some new technologies which I am very interested in.

I took a US WEST Communications employment test today. It was a role-playing test for new employees of the sales division. I have reason to believe it is a test rigged to unfairly favor female applicants over male applicants. If it was not "rigged" with purposeful intent to make females "shine", then it is an inadequate test of sales ability because it IS making men look bad. Here is my reasoning, as best I can explain through my anger at being passed over for an interview. (Obviously, they didn't think I qualified for a commissioned sales position.)

Scholastic entrance exams have had to be rewritten in recent years in order not to unwittingly discriminate against "cultural" minorities because the subject matter, language, and testing methods were written with one cultural bias: white, middle-class, America. I am suggesting that, at least in my case, this "entrance exam" was written with one cultural bias: female America, and perhaps it is even white women who benefit the most. Here is the basic test I am referring to.

It is a sales "role-playing" test. The roll playing puts the salesperson into a sales situation:

You are given 15 minutes to read a 5 or 6 page description of your hypothetical company and its services and prices. Then three calls come over the phone, each with a different "Party" or "Special Event" to plan.

Party Place, Inc. is the name of your company. You are answering sales calls as they come in over the phone and selling Party Place's services, catering to parties and special events for up to 100 people. Callers have already decided they want the event staged at the Party "Place" which is a small hall with raised stage and lights, etc. Your job is to sell them the full services of the company... Catering, Entertainment, Decorations, and Floral Arrangements.

Here is my contention. Women are natural party planners (most)... I know, it's a generality and perhaps even a stereotype, but it is TRUE. Most men do not know the delicate details necessary to ask the right questions of prospective clients who need to match decor colors with "wedding colors", or floral arrangement needs with "25th year anniversaries" (I think that is the silver one, right?). I believe it is safe to say that most men and women understand this as a given....When it is time to plan a wedding or big party, a formal event, let the women handle the details.... Decoration and cooking are the domains of the female population.

When I got pressured by a female caller who wanted help planning her sister's wedding reception because I wasn't asking the enough of the right questions about the wedding, (I thought we were planning the reception), I was sent off-balance. Sales is like a sport. If you are off balance, you lose. Plain and simple. I was frustrated because I was not selling a product I know and understand in detail. I didn't even have the slightest interest...unlike telecommunications technology, the field I have spent more than a decade learning and "Selling" because I like it, and I understand it.

I went there to sell telecommunications technology because I believe in it. I have a passion for it. I get excited about it. I feel confident explaining it, and I do it very well. I have received awards and big bonuses for this ability, not to mention a living for the past decade or so.... Even though I knew I was out of my element, I still thought I did well in the test.

The test should have two components. If US West must use a party planning company as a scenario, then they should have another module, using a hypothetical telecommunications company, selling perhaps cellular, or enhanced services like voice mail, call forwarding, etc... Or perhaps a construction company, or a auto service company... Things a person, (or a man), would feel comfortable with. This would make it a balanced test.

There is another reason I think the test discriminates against men. US West Communications has the highest percentage of women working for it than any company in the Northwest in the field of telecommunications. This is no accident in my opinion. This is done with intent. Of all industries that serve a client base of both men and women, US West has the highest ratio of women to men. The last I heard 60% of their employees were female. I am sure it is more now. I saw 2 men, and at least thirty women, in my visit to their offices today.

Thank you for your concern. I want to work in my chosen field unrestrained by bigoted, discriminatory attitudes and policies. Is this too much to ask. Women have been asking for it, and getting it, for at least 30 years. Have things gone too far? Seems so.


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Peter Douglas Zohrab

Latest Update

13 February 2022