Blogger overhears IBM execs discuss sexist hiring practices, live-tweets alleged remarks

Blogger: "These IBM executives should have picked someone else to sit beside to have a working lunch focused on 'why they don't hire women'"
By JC Sevcik   |   July 25, 2014 at 6:35 PM
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TORONTO, July 25 (UPI) -- A woman says she overheard IBM executives discussing sexist hiring practices and took to Twitter to live-tweet the alleged conversation.

Toronto-based writer, editor, feminist blogger and mother Lyndsay Kirkham was enjoying a birthday lunch Monday when she was outraged to hear IBM execs at a nearby table discussing the reasons they prefer not to hire potential mothers.

Kirkham settled in with her phone to document the exchange.

Speaking of hiring stats, one study found in mathematics-related jobs, men are twice as likely to be hired than equally qualified women.

This infographic from the U.S. Census Bureau reflects the decline in women in the tech industry:

Source: U.S. Census Bureau

Kirkham told the Daily Dot the execs discussed "holidays and how [women] needed more time to download and decompress from work related stress," and how they preferred to hire mature women who were less likely to need time off to care for children.

According to Kirkham, the execs listed off the number of women currently employed who have children and then ticked off the amount of expected future maternity leave.

"They also mentioned women who had left after having children and had gone into real estate 'because it is flexible for their kid-related schedules,'" Kirkham said.

Cue mature woman joining the IBM executives for lunch, and agreeing that hiring young women is not ideal.

Kirkham observed the lack of diversity at the table: "Oh. Shocker. They are all white."

She also addressed the IBM execs' latent dismissal of fathers as nurturers, tweeting, "Also: this IBM executive is subtly saying: fathers don't parent with any real concentration or intensity. So wrong," and, "I know so many fathers who participate in parenting to an equal (or greater) degree to their female co-parent. AND work full time."

She angrily wrote, "Not all 'young women' are reproducing. Not all [women] who reproduce take time out. And: HOW THE [expletive] ELSE DO YOU MAKE A NEW GENERATION?"

Since tweeting the overheard sexist remarks, Kirkham has been interviewed by several outlets and has written about the experience for Rabble.

"It's rampant," she said of misogyny in the tech sector to Think Progress." Workplace issues around equality [in technology companies such as the] gaming industry are everywhere."

And she may be right: according to a study by the Center for Work-Life Policy, 52 percent of women exit STEM fields citing a hostile masculine culture.

Kirkman ended her eavesdropping Twitter session with this sentiment: "I'm glad I overheard this. But, I now want to throw up (preferably on his really shiny shoes)."

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