cheerleaders at work, misdirected selfies, and more

It’s Labor Day, so in place of a final post today, here are a few articles I found interesting recently.

1. Internet companies in China are bringing in “programming cheerleaders,” women whose job is to “that help create a fun work environment,” including buying programmers breakfast, chatting, and playing ping-pong with them.  No, seriously.

2. Job seeker accidentally sends naked selfie to the HR manager at the company that had just made him a job offer. Whoops.

3. Why you need to just suck it up and disclose salary range in your postings, by the awesome Vu Le.

{ 68 comments… read them below }

    1. BRR*

      I kind of agree but it’s weird they accidentally did it twice days apart. Also HR’s job is to make sure the company isn’t sued so it makes a little more sense that they did it.

      1. Eric*

        That’s a good point. Overreaction, but probably based on a desire to keep everything as above board as possible.

      2. SystemsLady*

        It also sounds like the HR person didn’t know it was the applicant until after the police report was filed (or at least not until after she got both), and it doesn’t say whether or not there was a “you have the wrong number, please stop” conversation in between the two.

        One random accidental pic wouldn’t make me call the police, but two days apart and especially if I’d told the person to stop would have me feeling squicky, at the very least…

      1. BRR*

        Reading the article this one links to to get a couple further details, after the first one I would have sent a reply asking them to stop or just blocked the number (I’m curious if it was a work or personal number). I can understand why somebody would call the cops, but that’s how I would have handled it.

    2. MK*

      Well, apparently he not only sent her the photo twice, without her recognising him, but then called the next morning to follow up, at which point she figured out it was him. Depending on how the whole thing played out, it’s possible she thought she was in the middle of some kind of weird stalker situation.

      1. Elizabeth the Ginger*

        Yeah, it sounded like the police were called before the HR manager figured out who the sender was. I don’t think it’s quite how I would have dealt with it myself – I think I would have replied to the first one, saying, “Who is this?” – but I don’t think it’s too extreme to have involved law enforcement. Especially because we don’t know the HR person’s prior experiences; maybe they’ve previously been targeted by a stalker.

    3. Ask a Manager* Post author

      I, uh, once called the police in response to a dick pic.

      It showed up randomly, and I was like “who is this from?” so I reverse searched the number online … and discovered it was coming from someone living on my block (but who I didn’t know and who shouldn’t have had my cell number). That freaked me out because I figured that was too coincidental for it to be a randomly misdirected number and so it must have been intentional, and having just had a stalking situation a couple of years before, my mind went in all kind of bad directions, and I called the police.

      They took it very seriously and spent way more time on it than I’d expected them to. At one point they implied to me that the person it came from was on their radar for other reasons, which seemed to make it a bigger thing. But finally they went and talked to the guy, and it turned out he’d intended to send it to his wife. (Who doesn’t have their spouse’s number programmed into their phone?) Apparently he was quite embarrassed and sent back an apology via the police.

      I too was a little embarrassed (that it had turned out to be nothing). And then was amused when I got a follow-up call a few weeks later from the county’s “victims’ services” people, asking if I needed any support.

      1. Anx*

        I find them very …. threatening? I can’t explain it, but they completely ruin my week. I have a few on my phone from two guys I gave my number to as a favor for something else, with absolutely no flirting. I’m considering going to the police, but I’m terrified that they may be under 18 (the thought never occurred to me when I first received them) and that I’ll end up being the one in trouble as an adult. I can’t stress how completely unsolicited these were, but still… “maybe I led them on” and all that. It’s just horrible.

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          You didn’t lead them on — and even if you had, an appropriate response to that is not to send you an unsolicited photo of their genitalia.

          My theory on this has always been that the guys who randomly do this are totally incapable of understanding how others think. They themselves would be delighted to receive an unsolicited nudie pic from a woman, so they assume the reverse must also be true and that they are spreading joy throughout the world by doing this.

          1. BRR*

            @ the they would love to receive this, absolutely. They don’t get it. There shouldn’t be surprise nudes.

            And IMHO it’s threatening because I’ve always felt it is very similar to walking down the and some guy just whips it out (which happened when I worked admission at a bar). It’s slightly less threatening because it’s not in person but it’s more threatening overall I think because your phone is personal space and they can keep contacting you.

            1. Stephanie*

              There shouldn’t be surprise nudes.

              Yeah, it’s like a bad performance review: shouldn’t be a surprise, but instead the natural result from an ongoing conversation.

          2. Student*

            I think you are being a bit naive. They do it because they want to upset you. They do it because they only think about women as sub-humans in sexual terms instead of thinking about them as normal human beings. They do it to assert power and control. They don’t do it because they are under some mistaken impression that women will love pictures of a stranger’s dicks. I’m sure they don’t send these kinds of pictures to their bosses, co-workers, sisters-in-law, aunts, or wife’s friends in the mistaken belief that they are spreading joy across the world at the sight of their penis.

            You only have the word of the guy you called the cops on that this was a “mistake meant for his wife”. I call BS on that. He was trying to intimidate you or flirt with you. He got what he deserved.

            1. A Non*

              That was my thought too. “It was meant for my wife” is a pretty lame excuse. If that’s the case, getting the police involved was the right choice, and assuming the contact ended there, it worked.

          3. Felicia*

            I’ve thought this might be a reason but not the only one…I occasionally get unsolicited dick pics after people learn I am a lesbian. Maybe they think a photo of their genitalia will convert me?

            I can definitely understand feeling threatened by this weird practice. It takes away your choice of whether or not you want to look.

        2. Charisma*

          Well, they ARE threatening. I don’t see how this behavior is any different then someone with a trench coat flashing you on the street. I can only ever see this being OK between two consenting adults. Which implies that both people are in on it and that the dick pic has been led up to through some sort of foreplay. Seriously, who goes straight to a dick pic?

      2. neverjaunty*

        Why be embarrassed? The fact that it turned out to be nothing is irrelevant to whether your initial reaction was correct (it was). I mean, unless there were very extenuating circumstances indeed – your phone number is one off from his wife’s, he had a new phone so her number wasn’t in there, etc.

      3. Merry and Bright*

        It is weird not to have your spouse’s number programmed into your phone. Even weirder to miskey the number and get your neighbour’s number by mistake. Hmmm….

        The mistake thing sounds like a weak cover story for the police and his wife.

        1. Charlotte Collins*

          It does! I know people who don’t have their spouses’ numbers programmed on their phones, but these are people who don’t know how to use their vmail and don’t have camera phones, and if they did, they would take pictures of their vacations. (And probably their thumbs and the floor…) People who know what they’re doing with technology have those numbers programmed – or at least saved. And people who don’t know what they’re doing with technology probably aren’t taking and sending pix like that…

    4. Artemesia*

      I think they called the police before she realized who it was. I think if I started receiving naked pictures on my Email from strangers I might report it to law enforcement. I would certainly talk to my organizations IT officer (if only for self protection because who wants their work email full of porn).

  1. Not So NewReader*

    They hired programming cheerleaders? Really? That’s almost as much a slap in the face to men as it is to women.

    Good article about non-profits. I hope they are listening.

    1. Tau*

      I keep wanting to say something about that first article and keep failing because where do you even start.

      1. Vicki*

        I’ll start by saying that China is simply trying to replicate what it sounds like we have here in the USA (especially in Silicon Valley).

        The difference is that, in San Francisco / Silly Valley, the _company_ buys the breakfast (and lunch and dinner and snacks) and your co-workers chat and play ping pong with you. And, in open plan work environments, the breakfast, the chatting, and the pingpong table, are next to your desk.

      2. nutcase*

        I feel the same. What? I just… what? As a woman and a software engineer this makes me really, really sad. There is just so much wrong here. Even taking the blatant, ugly sexism out of the equation – because I just can’t even – programming is an intense mental activity requiring concentration and minimal distractions. This is just all so wrong. What year even is this? How are we still going backwards? Oh man, I should not have read this before my morning coffee.

    2. So Very Anonymous*

      I read a book last year (“Girls Coming to Tech!” by Amy Sue Bix) about the history of women’s integration into all-male engineering programs. Apparently this need for “socialization” on the part of the nerdy male engineering students was a big reason for gender integration at CalTech. I can’t even imagine what that must have been like for the women students…

      1. AcademiaNut*

        I actually know someone who was in one of the first co-ed classes at CalTech. She had a guy threatening to kill himself because she turned him down for a date. She went to the appropriate campus services to report this, because she was worried, and was told “Why won’t you go out with him? What, are you frigid?”

        That reaction makes more sense if they were importing more women not to educate them, but to socialize the men.

        1. So Very Anonymous*

          ::shudder:: That’s horrible. But yeah, does make sense — in an awful way — given that they were trying to socialize the men. Bix has a whole chapter on CalTech.

      2. Stephanie*

        A friend from college (who was a grad student at my alma mater) went to CalTech for undergrad. He graduated in the mid-2000s. Even that recently, he had some, um, interesting stories about the dating dynamics there since it was so heavily male (he said there was like 3:1 ratio of men:women).

    3. Dynamic Beige*

      I’ve heard that in Japan, hostess bars are common. Husbands and wives don’t go out together and socialise the same way we do, so men will go to a hostess bar after work and pay to chat with a hostess (no sex AFAIK). Geisha were kind of the original party hostesses/entertainment.

      Also, I can’t remember the statistic about how many “missing” women there are in China, due to the preference for boys, it’s something completely insane. I can see how bringing in young single women could be seen as a perk — it would expose these men to women of marriageable age. Although it would be interesting to see what the company rules on dating coworkers are, if there are any. I’m not saying it’s the greatest idea ever, but I think that it might be preferable to working at a giant manufacturing plant which shall remain nameless.

      When I took a trip to China a couple of years ago, our guide told us about his son and what they were doing to help him get married. In order for the son to be considered eligible to marry, he had to have a job, an education and an apartment — at that point he didn’t even have a girlfriend. His parents had been saving up the down payment for this apartment since he was born. All the future bride must do is contribute a gift to the home, like a large screen TV, that’s it. Groom’s parents pay for the wedding and everything. So being a top-paid engineer at a company, that would show potential future earning ability. Now, I’m not saying all Chinese women are just in it for the money… but on that trip was also where I first heard about the 5 Cs. I’m sure to a certain degree, everyone wants a partner and doesn’t pick someone just because they are rich, but no matter where you go, there is a segment of people who focus more on the money than anything else.

      1. AcademiaNut*

        I tend to take those complaints with a grain of salt – in my experience, the guys who are complaining the loudest about mercenary women tend to have very specific expectations about what *they* want in a wife, and the role she will play.

        The gender imbalance definitely does have a huge impact, as do increasing work opportunities for women. Combine the latter with very traditional expectations of a woman’s role in the family, and you can have a lot of women who essentially say “Why is getting married better than staying single?” and deciding that it isn’t. How many people would consider a nice apartment and good income a reasonable exchange for the requirement that your inlaws will move in with you and you’ll be expected to look after them, no matter what they’re like, for example.

      2. matcha123*

        I would say that the role of host/hostess and snack bars plays is one slightly different from what people in the West imagine. Hostess bars are pretty expensive with $1,000 champagne towers and stuff. In the US people generally want to have time for themselves and try to make time for themselves, but in Japan, even if you want time for yourself you have to go with your coworkers and bosses to izakaya or snack bars.
        It’s during that time that (men) can tell their bosses about their troubles (to an extent) at work, ask for advice and that can lead to them getting better projects at work, better bonuses or promoted slightly faster.

        From there, a lot of men continue to go to hostess bars to have the thrill of having a cute girls flirt with you and/or go to the snack bar to pour out their worries and work issues to someone who will listen, offer words of comfort and sing some karaoke.

        In China, you can’t own land from what I’ve heard. So, having enough money to afford an apartment is the way to show that you can take care of someone. Marriage is a type of contract and you want the best one. Me, too…and I’m not Chinese lol.

        1. Dynamic Beige*

          Yes, that’s what the guide said. You can’t own land, but the amount and size of towers being built was something I’ve never seen before. In one place we stopped, they were building 9 in a row, all the same development. What the guide said was that the people who build the towers lease the land from the government for 70 years. People who buy the apartments buy them, I don’t think it’s like condos were you have to pay a management fee every month (at least he didn’t say). They also buy a concrete box with nothing in it, it’s up to the buyers to put in the kitchen, bathroom, everything. The plumbing is there, the electrical is in the wall, but it’s not like you can purchase a certain package from their set of designs and move right in when it’s done. The big question is, what is going to happen when these land leases revert back to the government? None of them have yet, so it’s all a big gamble.

    4. Helen*

      Haven’t decided my opinion about the whole thing yet.

      My first thoughts: great, women actually being paid for emotional work.

  2. Stephanie*

    #1: Yeah, I imagine companies don’t want to deal with childcare as it’s expensive and a liability nightmare. So, instead…free laundry. FirstJob did have on-site daycare and apparently the waiting list was insanely long.

    1. Kyrielle*

      My current job has an on-site day care facility, owned and operated by the company. Employees’ kids go to the front of waiting lists, but it also serves the community and charges appropriate rates. (I keep debating whether to move my youngest over. He’d change teachers – but his teacher left due to moving to another state – and the price is about the same either way. The hours aren’t quite as broad, but they’re close. And…it has a few acres of outdoor space for the kids, unlike his current one. Hm.)

    2. Beancounter in Texas*

      A friend of mine worked for JPMorgan Chase and had on-site daycare and 30 days were paid for by the company. She really enjoyed visiting her son on lunch and other breaks, but ultimately, she said the on-site daycare cost too much for her and her working husband to afford, and she hired an in-home daycare by a lady of the same cultural background.

      I too have looked for on-site daycare, but now that I’ve found an awesome lady whom my child adores, I can’t imagine doing moving my child. I understand that childcare is expensive and a liability for companies, so even childcare assistance is better than nothing, and would earn my loyalty to a company for a long time.

  3. Stephanie*

    #3: I’ve mentioned this before. I work at a very large company that has a majority blue-collar workforce. It is a night and day difference between the postings for the blue-collar jobs and the white-collar jobs. The blue-collar jobs actually list the salary (or expected take-home earnings per week) and job descriptions in plain English. The white-collar job descriptions at the plants or at corporate list salary grades such as “16J” and use corporate buzzwords like KPI. I wish the white-collar postings were more like the blue-collar ones.

    1. Blue_eyes*

      Salary grades are the worst! Coded BS that means nothing to someone outside your organization. I often look at jobs at a large university nearby and they always give the salary grade only (and they have the most outdated, user-unfriendly application system ever).

      1. Stephanie*

        Oh, they’re useless even within the organization, unless you’re privy to HR info (which I’m not at my company).

        I can *sometimes* find university salary grades on their website. Sometimes.

        1. Charlotte Collins*

          My company is in the process of changing the paygrade system (from numeric to alphabetical). So now the job postings could be in one or the other, but there’s no guide to how or whether they correspond to one another. I know what paygrade I am, but if I put in my name for another position, I might have no way of knowing whether I’m looking at a promotion, demotion, or lateral move… And “Ask HR” is not really useful advice…

      2. BRR*

        Sometimes the paygrades are posted online but even then they’re usually huge ranges. Plus there are usually rules like don’t hire about the 1/4 or 1/2 percentile. I applied for a job two weeks ago that listed a 5K range, I basically cried tears of joy to know(although I’m not sure on the benefits).

      3. bostonanon*

        There’s a hospital network near me that posts their job posts with a salary grade. Okay, fine, but unlike every other place I’ve applied to that’s done that, I can’t find their #$$#%#@$@#$#@ grade -> money chart anywhere. I even hunted around their HR site for a contact person who I could e-mail, and they had literally no e-mail addresses listed (I wasn’t desperate enough to send snail mail). Ugh. Just post the money values and be done with it. I’m with the people in that link who won’t apply to anything if I don’t know the salary. It’s not worth my time.

  4. Weekday Warrior*

    Haha re the office cheerleaders. In my experience women often have to play similar “emotional labour” roles, e.g. social convenor, office mom, office therapist, office housekeeper, on top of doing their actual jobs. Now if the job was to cheer up all employees, not just one gender, and for really good pay, I’d sign up. :) Remember the Chief Fun Officers? I suspect mostly women and the first to get cut in a downturn.

  5. Kirsten*

    If applying to a job that doesn’t have the salary listed, when do you ask? I wouldn’t want to waste my time interviewing somewhere that pays less than my current job but I am not sure when the appropriate time to bring it up is.

    1. Yaaaas*

      Agreed. I feel this is especially difficult for women because then you look like you’re just in it for the money if you ask too early (NEWSFLASH: WE ALL ARE), and well that’s just not “nice” is it?

      Companies that fundamentally don’t understand the exchange of labor for monies and think people should be *grateful* to even work at all “because we are sooo cool!” need to go burn in flames.

      1. neverjaunty*

        Right, like the LW a while back who was indignant that people might ask to reschedule an interview because don’t they understand THEY are the ones being granted the enormous favor of an opportunity to have a job. :P

  6. Lizzie*

    I have been sent unsolicited nudes by a dude a grand total of once.

    In response, I sent him a YouTube link to Put That Thing Back Where It Came From Or So Help Me from Monsters, Inc. (link to follow).

    I guess word got around, because I haven’t received one since.

    1. Mallory Janis Ian*

      I received a porn pic from some random dude once. It was a picture of a woman’s vagina with a football pointed at it. I immediately called him and said, “You sent a nasty-picture to my cell phone.” He stammered and stuttered, “Umm . . . hrm . . . ” until I said, “You take my number out of your phone and don’t you ever send me a nasty-picture again as long as you live,” and he said. “Yes, ma’am!” and we both hung up.

    2. Kyrielle*

      Oh my word I LOVE it. I have yet to get one of these unsolicited (thank goodness!), but I think I may store that link just in case. This is an awesome response.

      1. Lizzie*

        Online dating was a horrible decision, but almost worth it because I get to tell this story very occasionally. Ha.

    3. bkanon*

      I would be horribly tempted to send the person a link to a particular blog for suggestions and improvements. Possibly with my own, likely low, rating. (VERY NSFW. critiquemydickpic on Tumblr.)

      1. Blue Anne*

        I love that blog SO. MUCH.

        I have sent a couple of dudes to it for pointers when they were sending me dick pics that I did actually want, but which were rather low quality. Universally good reaction to this suggestion.

  7. Sprocket*

    The comments left on article #2 itself (at its link) are really disappointing. Plus in my experience there’s a correlation between guys who send them/ask for photos and who perceive the advances of feminism to be obnoxious.

    And speaking of the advances of feminism… the article in #1 reminds me of a recent conversation I had with a female SVP at the office wherein we’d discussed how disappointing it would be for any woman to have only been in her position solely to be a token female vs on her merit. This cheerleader thing is the next level of gross; what happens if one of the guys develops an obsession with one of the ladies? Though in the whole the odds are slim regarding a psychotic level of obsession, her very role makes it awkward (she’s in essence supposed to be flirty, and I for one have had way too many guys mistake just nice for flirty) and hard to avoid and will probably cost her (not him) the job, at the very least.

  8. Rebecca*

    That naked pic story is so strange! He sent it twice within a couple of days? Like… ok, I can understand maybe he thought he was sending it to someone else, but if you didn’t get a response the first time, what makes you think to send it again?

    I have a friend who is a mortgage loan officer (I think that’s what it’s called), her job is to help loan applicants get all of their information together. She asked an applicant to email her some document that she needed for the application, the applicant replied back with an attachment. Then within about 30 seconds emailed back saying, “DO NOT OPEN THAT ATTACHEMENT, here is the correct one!”

    Well, of course my friend opened it (how could you not?) Yep, dick pic. It was clearly an accident, so she got a good laugh out of it.

  9. BethRA*

    Is there data out there on the impact on applications of posting salaries or not? We don’t post them, and there seems to be some notion that listing salary range will result in more applicants. I think that’s crazy, and my experience is that is generates a lot of totally unqualified applicants, but I’d love to have something to show TPTB to back that up.

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