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Ignore the sexist advice - wear your engagement ring with pride, ladies

Lorraine Courtney takes issue with the advice that women shouldn’t wear their engagement rings to job interviews.

Lorraine Courtney Freelance journalist

IF YOU ARE a woman who is the owner of a large engagement ring, a male recruiter and career coach has some advice for you: “When interviewing for a job, lose the ring.”

This is the title of a controversial and reductive LinkedIn essay written by Bruce Hurwitz, which has understandably gone viral.

Hurwitz claims he has noticed that when women turn up at job interviews wearing ginormous engagement rings, they don’t tend to bag the job. But when they take off their rings and leave them at home, they are more likely to be successful.

He gives an example of a woman whose engagement ring rivalled the Hope Diamond. She was continually being turned down at job interviews until she listened to Hurwitz, took the ring off and finally got the job.

“When a man sees that ring he immediately assumes you are high maintenance,” he writes.

When the woman at the office who has the largest diamond on her finger sees that ring, she will realise that if you are hired she will fall to second place and will, therefore, not like you. Lose the ring!

We’re too busy to care about rings

This kind of thinking is so far beyond sexist that we need a new word for “sexist”.

Boo, Bruce. We working women, trying to shatter glass ceilings and still fighting for pay rises while raising children without adequate childcare options, are not interested in the size of our future workmates’ engagement rings. We are not so small-minded that we decide to hate women that have bigger engagement rings than we do.

How can you think we are this shallow, that we have so much free time on our little hands, that we are concerned by the size and scale, not just of our colleagues’ rings, but of interviewees, who we might never meet again?

Love, happiness and engagements are not – despite what certain media outlets may imply – running out. They are infinite commodities. Just because you see a woman with a big engagement ring, it doesn’t mean you’re less likely to get engaged as a result. You can also buy yourself a bigger ring.

And what about the men Bruce? Surely the deputy CEO with his shiny Rolex is just as “high maintenance”? Nope. Hurwitz doesn’t see any “moral equivalency” among men.

Women bringing home the bacon

Hurwitz seems to be oblivious to the fact that women in younger couples are increasingly likely to earn more money and have a better standard of education than their male partners.

This is one of the findings of a study of the structure of Irish families published by the Economic and Social Research Institute in collaboration with UCD in 2011, based on the 2006 census. No doubt the results have gone even further in that direction in the 2016 census.

In contrast to the traditional family based on a male breadwinner, the report shows a growing number of young couples where the woman has a higher earning power. Among younger couples (those under 40), 42% of women had a higher occupational level versus 28% for men. The other 30% were at the same level.

Saying that it’s 2016 and that we should be beyond all this nonsense feels empty, even though it’s true. But Hurwitz’s views are evidence that classic sexism still exists.

Rocks I’m wearing? I bought ‘em

It’s a boring drum to keep banging, but no matter how much women progress, sexist dinosaurs will linger.

Hurwitz went on to elaborate in a follow-up article that the reason men think a woman is high-maintenance is because “men buy the least expensive ring that he believes it will take to get her to agree to a proposal.” Therefore, if a woman has a big ring, the male recruiter assumes the woman is high-maintenance.

He may be willing to have a high-maintenance woman in his personal life; he doesn’t necessarily want one in his office.

A large ring is not an automatic sign of a she-devil – it’s just a ring. It’s also increasingly likely that the woman paid, wholly or partly, for it herself.

All that vital legislation that made gender-based discrimination illegal was introduced because of the women who refused to take off their engagement and wedding rings at work.

These women are continuing to fight for equality by advocating for more paternity leave, for equal pay, and combating sexual harassment in workplaces all over the country.

There’s still quite a way to go, but giving in to sexism is not the answer. Don’t listen to Bruce – wear your rings with pride girls.

Read: Dear magazines, Jennifer Aniston has not ‘forgotten’ to have a baby

Read: Giving women time off for periods would be unfair – but we need to talk about them more

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About the author:

Lorraine Courtney  / Freelance journalist

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