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I am a fresh graduate from a reputable university here in our province.  I had applied for vacant positions in companies in our province in connection with my course (Chemical Engineering).  The problem is that most companies prefer single women.  I am 23 years old, married, and with one child.   I think these companies are biased.  They do not give equal opportunities to married women.

Recruitment people around me say that they prefer single women because single women are more efficient and do not have maternity benefits.  I hope these companies will give opportunities to women like me.  I like very much to practice what I have learned as well as get additional learning experience and knowledge.  Please help me find a job.  Thank you.

Young Mother

Unfortunately for us in our country, there are no equal opportunity laws that would give sanctions to companies which discriminate against employment of people on the basis of age, gender, life circumstances, such as being parent to young children, etc.  In our country, there are companies which prefer to hire men, the young and the single, among others.  These biases stem from experiences with mothers who come late for work or are often absent so that they can take care of sick children, or bring their babies and young children to pediatricians and the like.  They have biases in favor of single women whom they consider more efficient, who can work long hours, and additionally, don’t have maternal benefits.

However, there are also companies that look at the qualifications and potentials of applicants and hire women with young children.  During the probationary period, these married women show themselves to be work-engaged and focused (rather than distracted), and are able to finish tasks even if these tasks take them well in the night.  These young mothers are self-confident about working late hours because they usually have their own mothers or mothers-in-laws, or reliable domestic helpers or “yayas” to take care of their children’s needs, including monitoring their homework.

That you live outside of Metro Manila is disadvantage because there are fewer companies in your home location or surrounding environs unlike those that can be found in Metro Manila  cities such as Makati City, Parañaque City, Las Piñas City, Muntinlupa City, Quezon City, Pasig City, etc.  But, don’t be discouraged.  I suggest the following things you can do:

1.  Get someone reliable and dependable to take care of your baby.  Train this person on how to take care of your baby, what to do if your baby gets sick, how to get in touch with you, whom to call if you can’t be reached out, etc.

2.  Improve your resume to project a good image of you.  Surf the Internet or get a book on how to write effective resumes.

3.  Send your resume to as many companies that employ people with your educational background.  The more companies you send your resume to, the better are your chances to be interviewed and to get a job.

4.  Look at job vacancies advertised in the job market.  Participate in job fairs in your province.  Know what positions require your educational background or chemistry or engineering.  Even if the job specifies male or single people, send your resume just the same.

5.   Prepare yourself for interviews.  Know how to respond when the interviewer asks you how having a baby is likely to affect your performance.  Prepare your answer and deliver it with self-confidence.

Say something like this:  “Yet, it’s true that I have a six-month old baby.  However, this will not affect my job performance because I have my mother (or a trained and reliable “yaya”) to take care of my baby.  If given a chance to work in your company, I am prepared to show that I will be efficient and hardworking and deliver expected results.”  If the interviewer  is not upfront about their preference for single women, bring up the matter by asking, “Would my being married and with a baby affect your decision to hire me, if you find me qualified?”

6.   While waiting for job interviews, develop your computer skills.  Every job nowadays requires computer proficiency.  Additionally, review your subjects in Chemical Engineering to be ready to answer technical questions.

7.   Develop your network i.e., list down people you know who are employed or who know people who can refer you to companies to which you can apply.  Make known to them that you are looking for a job.

8.  Be confident, based on your confidence in God, that you will get a good job.  It will just take time.

God bless you.

 

Josie Santamaria

I’m female, happily married with two children and in my early 40s. I have been working in a multi-national company for the past 13 years.  I rose from the ranks of an admin assistant to executive secretary because of my efficiency, computer skills, networking skills, among others.  I had been working under two male expats for the past 5 years and I had a wonderful professional working relationship with each one.  They left me alone to run the executive office and to supervise a staff of three employees.  They had confidence in my abilities to deliver results.

Unfortunately, our company is now under Filipino management and my boss is a Filipino Chinese woman who is tactless, task-oriented and is lacking in people skills.  She is just the opposite of my previous male bosses. Whereas I used to be allowed to go home earlier in the afternoon, after my tasks had been done, so I can supervise my children in their studies, now I can no longer do so.  She expects me to stay in the office while she is around and this is not later than 7 pm.

I’ve asked HR to transfer me to a male boss because I prefer male bosses to female ones.  But there is no vacancy.  I’m left with the hopeless situation of putting up with my female boss or getting out of the company.  I don’t want to resign  because I love the company; it’s the female boss I can’t stand.

What shall I do?  Please help me.

Ms. Executive Secretary

 

You like your work and your company but you don’t like your female boss.  You have gotten so used to male expat bosses that it is difficult for you now to accept and work under your current boss and adjust to new working conditions.  You mentioned two options open for you i.e., put up or resign.  Actually you have a third option, i.e., to accept your situation and use your skills to develop a positive and professional relationship with your female boss.  As a start, you must have the following paradigm shifts:

(1)   from “I prefer male bosses to female ones” to “I will work for either male or female boss under whom I am assigned.”

(2)   from “I prefer male expats” and “I don’t like this Filipino Chinese boss” to “I want to know more about my current boss and see her virtues and positive traits.”

(3)   from judging her as a “tactless, task-oriented and lacking in people skills” to “She has her own management style which she learned thru positive reinforcements of negative behaviors, but perhaps I can influence her by using my own people skills.”  Generalizations can be dangerous; they restrict us from seeing the good traits, or the bad traits, in a person.

(4)   from “I can no longer leave the office earlier” to “What I enjoyed before was a special accommodation.  I have no privilege which other employees do not enjoy.”

Our perceptions are colored by our mindsets.  We see what we want or expect to see.  We need to validate our perceptions thru actual experience with a person and be open to change our mindsets.

I have observed this phenomenon among a number of female secretaries who express and show preferences for male expat bosses; they steel themselves against local executives especially female ones.  Admittedly, male executives working and living in a foreign country have been known to be rather lax and to show dependence on their female secretaries for their enculturation.  Here is where local female staff get an upper hand; as a result, they are able to enjoy a higher status than other employees and enjoy certain privileges.  If this is not racial prejudice, I don’t know what it is.

I believe that, if you want to continue working in the corporate world, you need to accept the fact that you will be assigned to bosses of different characters, personalities, management/leadership styles.  You need to accept them as they are and work your way from the here-and-now and to a level where you enjoy a good working relationship with them.  Here are some do’s and don’ts to develop a professional and positive relationship with your boss:

  • Continue your good working habits, including keeping regular office hours, just like the other employees,  and observe punctuality;
  • Ask your new boss what her expectations of you are;
  • Exceed her expectations.  This will earn your boss’ respect for your competencies.  This respect will translate into confidence and faith in your performance;
  • Stop comparing her with your male expat bosses and don’t feed the grapevine with your comparisons.  These are surely going to reach her ears.  How do you think she will feel?  How would you feel if you were in her shoes?
  • Know and understand where your boss is coming from:  her family and cultural background; her education and work orientation; what are her “soft” spots (what touches her heart); and “sore” spots (what irritates her); etc.  If she feels understood and accepted, she will be open to your influence.
  • Never suggest that something had been done the way it was done before.  She has her own way of doing things.  Do it her way! Wait for her to ask you for your suggestions.
  • Know yourself.  Understand your own expectations of your boss but make sure these are realistic and are congruent with office norms and corporate values.
  • Wait for the right psychological moment to ask her if you could leave at the close of office hours for important personal/family matters.  It is the norm in any organization for secretaries, whether male or female, to be in the office while their bosses are around.
  • Always get clear instructions and deadlines and write these down.  Record all meetings where she is present or where she presides.

 

God bless you.

 

Josie Santamaria