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Old 29.01.2012, 19:59
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tired of being asked in jobs interviews if I would like to have children.

Dear all, I just have to say it: I am tired of being asked in jobs interviews if I would like to have children. This form of discrimination is getting on my nerves. I come from a South European country, and I have NEVER been asked this question, never!

I love this country, I really feel good living here but when it comes to this, I just have to say NO WAY. Since I came to Swizterland, almost 2 years ago, I have been working in some places part-time. Always international organizations in medium positions (manager). Always asked. But what kind of answer can you give when you feel threatened??? I have gave so many difference. First time I was impressed, second time I turned red, third, I just passed.

Now, I have almost reached the professional level I had before coming. And always the same question! International organizations and women! Women asked this question! Isn't it insane? If you do not want to take the risk do not call women between 30-40 years old and just married!

Should I be afraid of getting pregnant EVER in Swizertland? Of course, not, I know but the behavior makes me wonder.

This is my unique complain about this country, that I love, but the hypocrisy on this issue really upsets me.

thanks for reading my complain. We need to do something.

take care,

FPW (future pregnant worker, no matter what!)

Last edited by mgd616; 29.01.2012 at 20:16.
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Old 29.01.2012, 20:04
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Re: tired of being asked in jobs interviews if I would like to have children.

Even in Switzerland they are not allowed to ask this question, and if they do you do not have to answer it. In reality though it gets asked and they expect an honest answer.
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Old 29.01.2012, 20:06
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Re: tired of being asked in jobs interviews if I would like to have children.

I wonder if men are asked.
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Old 29.01.2012, 20:12
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Re: tired of being asked in jobs interviews if I would like to have children.

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Even in Switzerland they are not allowed to ask this question, and if they do you do not have to answer it. In reality though it gets asked and they expect an honest answer.
I know its against the law in the EU, but is it against the law here too?
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Old 29.01.2012, 20:17
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Re: tired of being asked in jobs interviews if I would like to have children.

yes it is. It is against the law here in Switzerland. Thanks for reading it.
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Old 29.01.2012, 20:21
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Re: tired of being asked in jobs interviews if I would like to have children.

They shouldn't ask but sadly do. Because they are not allowed to ask, you are allowed to lie, except if it's a job where being pregnant is a problem, such as heavy physical work. I would be in two minds about this - part of me would want to let them know they are breaking the law by discriminating against me but then being confrontational during a job interview is probably going to be a fail for getting hired.

Maybe women should start to name and shame employers who ask discriminating questions and report them to one of the many equality bureaus.
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Old 29.01.2012, 20:26
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Re: tired of being asked in jobs interviews if I would like to have children.

They are however free to fire you once pregnancy and statutory maternity leave (i.e. when you are protected) are over. As was announced to someone I know after she told her employer of four years that she was pregnant, and no, that was not at some small Swiss company in a rural area, but at a big multinational corporation.
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Old 29.01.2012, 20:30
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Re: tired of being asked in jobs interviews if I would like to have children.

Like Kittster, I'd like to confront those who ask- but it is a luxury few can afford, as it will more than likely cost you the job.

Just to say though that this is not just in CH. In the UK it is defo illegal to ask- but most 'clever' (ahah) employers will find a few around this. One Headmaster I worked with was very cunning- he would 'refuse' to be on the interviewing panel, and would stay around the staff room where interviewees were waiting and be very chatty, and offer cups of coffee, etc. The friendly chats always included such niceties as ' Have you got kids, how old, who looks after them when you are working. If not, what are your plans.. Most employers have plants to ask those questions and report back before the interviews, I'm afraid.
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Old 29.01.2012, 20:32
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Re: tired of being asked in jobs interviews if I would like to have children.

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Even in Switzerland they are not allowed to ask this question, and if they do you do not have to answer it. In reality though it gets asked and they expect an honest answer.
wait... they're not allowed to ask it but they expect an honest answer?
I'd answer it with my middle finger gently extended as I collect my things and leave.

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I wonder if men are asked.
I've never been asked, but as a single man without kids I experience other types of discrimination.
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Old 29.01.2012, 20:34
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Re: tired of being asked in jobs interviews if I would like to have children.

"Why? Is it a policy of your company to hire rapists? That's the only reason I can think of why you might be asking me."
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Old 29.01.2012, 21:52
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Re: tired of being asked in jobs interviews if I would like to have children.

is it really such a bad question? i guess many companies don't want people joining and then leaving again for maternity leave.

i've always argued that parental leave should be given to both parents to make things equal, but under the current system, employers are naturally wary about employing women.
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Old 29.01.2012, 22:44
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Re: tired of being asked in jobs interviews if I would like to have children.

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I'd answer it with my middle finger gently extended as I collect my things and leave.
I'm sure you wouldn't if it was a job you actually wanted
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Old 29.01.2012, 22:49
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Re: tired of being asked in jobs interviews if I would like to have children.

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is it really such a bad question? i guess many companies don't want people joining and then leaving again for maternity leave.

i've always argued that parental leave should be given to both parents to make things equal, but under the current system, employers are naturally wary about employing women.
... well that's the downside. Companies want workforce, but have to employ humans.

Before they can't solve this dilemma, they'll have to live with the fact that humans still reproduce themselves.

And if a human asks another human in an interview to "preferably drop this reproduction thing in favour to the company's profit making", is a bad thing.

I would feel very uncomfortable, being asked such a question.
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Old 29.01.2012, 22:53
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Re: tired of being asked in jobs interviews if I would like to have children.

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is it really such a bad question? i guess many companies don't want people joining and then leaving again for maternity leave.

i've always argued that parental leave should be given to both parents to make things equal, but under the current system, employers are naturally wary about employing women.

Which is exactly why it's illegal.
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Old 29.01.2012, 22:55
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Re: tired of being asked in jobs interviews if I would like to have children.

I haven't been asked if I would like to have children, but I have been asked who would look after my daughter while I was at work!!!

While I was not asked the "question", my first Swiss employment contract had some clause about either not getting pregnant within the first 10 months or not taking maternity leave. I cannot remember.
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Old 30.01.2012, 00:01
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Re: tired of being asked in jobs interviews if I would like to have children.

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is it really such a bad question? i guess many companies don't want people joining and then leaving again for maternity leave.

i've always argued that parental leave should be given to both parents to make things equal, but under the current system, employers are naturally wary about employing women.

They could swap it for the mandatory military absences ("WK").
It's IMO a dis-justice of epic proportions.

BTW: heard my co-workers talking. One had to postpone one of the "WKs" due to work-issues. Apparently, that costs 1000 CHFs or so, which is to be paid by someone (usually, the employee gets the bill and can ask the company to foot the bill).
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Old 30.01.2012, 01:11
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Re: tired of being asked in jobs interviews if I would like to have children.

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They could swap it for the mandatory military absences ("WK").
It's IMO a dis-justice of epic proportions.

BTW: heard my co-workers talking. One had to postpone one of the "WKs" due to work-issues. Apparently, that costs 1000 CHFs or so, which is to be paid by someone (usually, the employee gets the bill and can ask the company to foot the bill).
the WK is also an issue. i considered this also when i hired my last assistant. but the big difference with WK is that it is much shorter in time, and that shorter period can be handled. and the timing can be controlled to some extent to avoid it landing in the busy periods.
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Old 30.01.2012, 01:54
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Re: tired of being asked in jobs interviews if I would like to have children.

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the WK is also an issue. i considered this also when i hired my last assistant. but the big difference with WK is that it is much shorter in time, and that shorter period can be handled. and the timing can be controlled to some extent to avoid it landing in the busy periods.

True - but AFAIK, the amount of time absent in sum is 260 days:
http://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wehrdienst#Schweiz

Under these circumstances, I can see that companies do not want to pay for longer maternity leave on top of that...
Still, the outcome is unsatisfactory. All the money spent for educating (IIRC, bringing someone through a Swiss CS degree costs 100k) these women is basically wasted once they have children.

OTOH, if companies couldn't just fire women 16 weeks or so after they gave birth to a child, they would just hire more men.

I've heard that a lot of Swiss women start a 2nd career in the school board or communal politics once the children have a certain age....

I love my job (mostly...) and I really can't imagine just giving it up. For ever, probably.
Yet, this is exactly what we are asking our (future) wives to do.
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Old 30.01.2012, 02:28
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Re: tired of being asked in jobs interviews if I would like to have children.

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Still, the outcome is unsatisfactory. All the money spent for educating (IIRC, bringing someone through a Swiss CS degree costs 100k) these women is basically wasted once they have children.
Seriously WTF?

People have to work till they are 65... and probably longer once I will reach that age. If your education in the middle of your 20s costs 100k and then enables you to make 120k a year vs the 50k an uneducated person makes for 40 years is that a nice return on investment. Even if a women would take some 5 years or so off before kids go to school... even if she works only part time for some years. But you just showed a nice display of the 50s mindset so common in Switzerland. One of the things I never managed to deal with when living there...

To the OP: Just tell them that you have no intention to have children, end of story. If they behave unethical you can do so as well. It is in fact legal to lie when asked an illegal question! So that can never be officially be hold against you. I have never seen that somebody got fired for having a baby, quite the opposite actually - when my former employer dowsized was "having children" one of the formal factors next to age and "years with company" that decided who to not fire.
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Old 30.01.2012, 07:54
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Re: tired of being asked in jobs interviews if I would like to have children.

The answer is no. Easy. As much as I'd like to believe otherwise, I doubt it'll be the first white lie you've ever told in an interview.

As to the getting upset part (i.e. red face) - why? People are people all over, over, but that doesn't mean the interview norms are the same as "back home". Maybe he's making conversation in a thoughtless way, maybe he's trying to decide whether or not to hire you... but either way, getting upset doesn't help. Take a deep breath and let it slide.

Have a look at Phil's point. If you hire someone who goes on maternity leave half a year later, you've spent a lot of money to poor effect (and will have to spend more to hire and train a temp while that person is out). It sucks from their point of view, just as it sucks from your point of view to be discriminated against.

I say this not to justify, but to help you empathize - they're running a business and have to think about the costs. Realize that, understand it, and use that understanding to keep yourself calm next time it happens - it'll work out better for you in the long run.
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