When I graduated from college and began interviewing for jobs I found out that my ability to type was more important to prospective employers than my degree was. I wasn't naive. I knew I wouldn't have a secretary to do my typing, and as a matter of fact I'd probably start off as someone's assistant and have to do his or her typing. This was a necessary step to get where I eventually wanted to go as I advanced up the corporate ladder. I was right about that, but here's where I was wrong. I thought male graduates would have to do the same thing to get a foot in the door. One late Spring day I discovered the sad truth.
I saw an ad for an employment agency that claimed to have job openings available for recent college graduates in a few different majors. My major, marketing, was one of them. I quickly called to arrange an appointment. When I arrived at the agency's office I was given an application to complete, and then was interviewed by a placement counselor who went over my resume. "Very nice. We have some administrative assistant jobs, just to help you get a foot in the door," she said and then asked me to take a typing test. She led me to a testing room where I sat at a desk that faced the door. She gave me some time to practice before starting the test. While I was practicing, a young man walked into the office. I recognized him as being someone with whom I had taken some classes in my major. I planned to say hello when he joined me in the testing room. He never did. I saw him complete the application and saw him interviewed by the same placement counselor who had interviewed me. It was obvious it was their first meeting. Next thing I knew she was on the phone with the personnel (now called human resources) office of one of the agency's clients. "We have a great candidate for you. He's young, bright, and just graduated. I think you should interview him for that marketing assistant position." "Hey, wait a minute," I thought. "What about his typing test?"
I was being placed on one career path while a man with a similar background was being placed on another. I checked around. I wasn't the only woman facing this problem. This was happening to my fellow female graduates as well. It wasn't exactly discrimination since they weren't refusing to hire me because I was a woman. They just tried to push me onto a career path that was different than the one I desired.