A LinkedIn Essay Tells Women Not To Wear Their Rings To Interviews, Because Patriarchy
Uh, we’re still in 2016, right? Trump is running for president, the Olympics happened, and Taylor Swift is dating Loki? Just had to check — because this ridiculous LinkedIn article has me seriously wondering if we’ve transported to 1957. The essay argues that women shouldn’t wear engagement rings to interviews. Why? Because men will assume they are “high maintenance” and other women will be crazy jealous.
It is physically impossible for my eyes to roll hard enough at this.
The article was published on LinkedIn on August 12, by Bruce Hurwitz, whose bio says he is an “executive recruiter and career counselor.” Hurwitz describes an occasion in which a female job candidate asked why she might be striking out in interviews. His response? “Lose the rock!” He goes on to explain,
When a man sees that ring he immediately assumes you are high maintenance. When the woman at the office who has the largest diamond on her finger, sees that ring, she will realize that if you are hired she will fall to second place and will, therefore, not like you. Lose the ring!
Um, wow. The outdated stereotyping here is sort of overwhelming. Where to start?
Look, this isn’t the first time I’ve heard this kind of advice, and although a woman’s relationship status and her personal taste in jewelry shouldn’t affect her hiring potential, it’s true that in some cases, fair or not, they probably do. As Michelle Ruiz at Vogue points out, wearing highly expensive jewelry (of the engagement variety or not) to an interview could falsely give employers the perception that you don’t need a job. And, though an employee’s relationship status should have no bearing on their employment, some employers will make (unfair) assumptions about your and your life plan, based simply on the fact that you’re a woman of potentially reproductive years. In fact, someone once told me, “You can’t wear an engagement or wedding ring to an interview because then the employer will assume you’re going to immediately go have babies and not hire you.” This kind of thinking from employers is discriminatory and wrong. I wish I could say that women should never bend to it, but we don’t live in a perfect world, people need jobs, and if you think taking off your ring will help you get hired, by all means, go ahead.
So my problem with Hurwitz’s article is not so much with the advice itself as with the reasoning behind it. He deploys of a variety of antiquated, offensive stereotypes about women, men, and marriage. Take, for example, his statement that “[w]hen the woman at the office who has the largest diamond on her finger, sees that ring, she will realize that if you are hired she will fall to second place.” What? Hurwitz is perpetuating stereotypes that women are inherently petty, materialistic, catty, and competitive. If his view is true, then, really, it’s amazing that female employees manage to get any work done, given how busy they are worrying about the rocks on other people’s fingers and wringing their hands about how carat size will affect their place in the office hierarchy.
It’s all too common for people to pit women against each other and to assume that they must always be in competition with other women (for what, exactly?). But even when women are in competition (as is common in a corporate settings, when employees are all competing with each other for clients, raises, and promotions), why would Hurwitz assume that what they’re competing over is ring size, of all things? That the way women measure themselves against other employees is not through job performance, but through the size of the diamonds they’ve been able to wrangle from their menfolk?
And that brings me to my next point: Hurwitz has a really strange conception of marriage. In a follow-up post (in which he mostly doubles-down on his original post), he says, “[t]he problem with a large engagement ring … is the message it may send.” He continues, “When a man gives a woman an engagement ring, he buys the least expensive ring that he believes it will take to get her to agree to the proposal.” Huh? (Also: heteronormative. FYI, engagement rings can be purchased in ways other than by men, for women.)
Hurwitz seems to believe that an engagement ring is essentially payment that a woman receives in exchange for agreeing to a marriage. Elsewhere in the article, he describes an engagement ring as “the assumed … price the recipient put on entering into their verbal contract.” Romantic, right? I can’t speak for every human out there, of course, but I don’t know anyone, male or female, who thinks of an engagement ring as a “price” to be paid for a bride, or whose decision to marry was predicated on a ring. In writing about engagement rings, he casts women as fundamentally mercenary, as if their decisions about lifelong romantic commitments are based entirely on what their future spouses are willing to pay them in jewelry.
He also goes back to the "high maintenance" label, insisting,
For women [the engagement ring] may be a symbol of everlasting love, but for men (when it is expensive) it is akin to a business transaction. So when a male interviewer sees what appears to be an expensive engagement ring he assumes the wearer is, as I said in the article, “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.
No. Just no. Can I just say that I hate the phrase “high maintenance”? It casts women (because it’s almost always applied to women) as temperamental, expensive appliances that have to constantly be coaxed into working properly. Women are not, in fact, fancy toasters.
Hurwitz’s idea of a standard office environment is bogged down in negative stereotypes of women as catty, manipulative, and obsessed with shiny objects, and his depiction of men isn’t much better. (In the article they occupy two positions: Male bosses who make sexist assumptions about potential employees' personal lives, and sad fiancés who’ve been forced to buy giant rocks to appease their “high maintenance” brides.) If that’s what a real office is like these days, I can’t imagine anyone wanting to work there.
I'll let Liz Lemon have the final word: