Sunday, April 01, 2007

Want-Ads For Guys and Gals

You may have read about a time in America when job ads were segregated by sex, those dark ages of pre-feminism. Well, you can now find out how it worked. Here is a want-ad from last week's craigslist:

Discovery Channel needs a host for a new series. Must have background in either engineering, product design or crash testing. On camera experience preferred but not required.

Are you a natural innovator? Do you have the engineering creativity to adapt technologies in imaginative ways to save lives? Do you often think – 'a small change to my car/a jet fuel tank/a building could make the difference between life and death? - Then, we want to talk to you.

Ideal candidate is, male, young to late forties, edgy, adventurous, and an innovator. Must feel comfortable conceptualizing and testing their own designs and the designs of others.

Extensive travel and time commitment required.

My bolds. Could it be a hoax? It seems not to be one. Is it legal? Who knows, but one blog I found suggests that it might be:

In academia or corporate America, this job ad clearly would be discriminatory and illegal, but when it comes to TV and film, producers are given a free pass to hire based on gender. At least ads like this confirm our suspicions that gender-based discrimination is alive and well in the sciences. In academia, they pretend it doesn't exist or blame the women.

I find it very hard to believe that this is legal, because usually the sex of a person should have some relevance for the job. For instance, I can see why some people might argue that Hamlet should be played by a man and Ophelia by a woman. But why is the ideal candidate here male and under a certain age? Sex and age discrimination in one exciting package!

I learned about this ad and similar issues at the Women, Action and Media conference this weekend from the folks who run the They are worth a separate post later on.