should I take off my engagement ring for job interviews?

A reader writes:

My fiance and I have been engaged for a little over a year, and his mom gave us her old engagement ring as a gift. It’s beautiful, and few people even notice it unless it’s pointed out to them.

However, I was wondering if it’s appropriate for job interviews. I ask because I grew up in a conservative town where all the women would take off their wedding or engagement rings for interviews. While I know employers cannot discriminate, I also know that they don’t have to tell you why they don’t hire you. Granted, I’m not especially old school, live in a progressive city, and am just as career driven as most single people my age — my fiance even jokes about being the “house husband” in the distant future when we have kids. At the same time, I’ve received advice from both sides. What call would you make?

You can read my answer to this question over at Inc. today, where I’m revisiting letters that have been buried in the archives here from years ago (and often updating/expanding my answers to them).

Read an update to this letter here.

{ 249 comments… read them below }

  1. Bekx*

    The goal isn’t just to get a job offer; it’s to get the right job, with the right people, in the right culture.

    This is so, so true.

  2. Ad Astra*

    I just find it fascinating and a little sad that all the women in OP’s town, presumably only a generation older than she is, felt like they had to take off their rings to get a job.

      1. neverjaunty*

        In the 1990s, I went to law school in a large, urban, ‘liberal’ area, and my classmates with engagement rings were regularly and flat-out asked about the childbearing and marriage plans. One classmate, applying with a DA’s office, was asked whether her husband would ‘be able to keep her in the lifestyle to which she was accustomed’ since DA jobs don’t pay as much as the private sector. So, yes.

        1. Jaydee*

          Lawyers are the worst. I graduated in 2006 and had classmates tell me to lose the ring (I was married by then) for interviews. I never did because I very much subscribed to the philosophy of “if you don’t want to hire me for who I am, then maybe I don’t really want to work for you anyway.” That’s probably why I got exactly one job offer. And also why I still work there. :-)

          1. Marketing Girl*

            ” I never did because I very much subscribed to the philosophy of “if you don’t want to hire me for who I am, then maybe I don’t really want to work for you anyway.” That’s probably why I got exactly one job offer. And also why I still work there. :-)” – Love this. Thanks.

          2. Green*

            I got dozens of offers at very conservative firms with an engagement ring (and saying hell no to pantyhouse). A lot of this is urban legend that keeps getting passed around.

    1. Soupspoon McGee*

      In grad school (early 90’s), we women were clearly told not to wear engagement or wedding rings in interviews, and to wear a-line skirts that hit well below the knee. This was English, not a traditionally male-dominated field.

      1. blackcat*

        I have been given ditch the ring advice for interviews at R1 institutions. I am currently in grad school. And, for many reasons, not planning on a tenure track career at an R1.

        When I was visiting grad schools, with a ring, I got tons of “What about your husband? Is he willing to move?” At a more progressive schools, I got asked “What does your partner do?”

    1. Moonstone*

      I just started reading “The Handmaid’s Tale” last night, so I love that you posted the Latin.

    2. Katniss*

      YES! Now I need to re-read The Handmaid’s Tale.

      For anyone here who is a fan of that book, check out the YA novel Only Ever Yours. Similarly chilling book. When She Woke is also a really good one in the same vein.

      1. Oryx*

        Huge Atwood fan (as my name suggests) and Handmaid’s Tale specifically, so I’ll be adding those two books to my list!

        1. Katniss*

          I hope you enjoy! I’d say When She Woke has some weaker elements but builds a really interesting world. Only Ever Yours is just plain fantastic, though!

  3. Bio-Pharma*

    Regarding the perception and how one might be discriminated against, what about the view that someone who is engaged/married is more settled down, whereas a single person might be out out more? I’m wondering why the view is that not wearing a ring might be “better,” but go ahead and wear it.

    1. Kelly L.*

      For sexist bosses, the settled-down thing only works if it’s a man. An engaged woman, they’re assuming, is going to either quit the second she gets married, or else get pregnant immediately thereafter and quit when the baby is born.

      1. TootsNYC*

        Actually, I might have that opinion about a young woman as well! The partiers whose social life impacted their work life have been women.

        I don’t usually notice or bother, and I wouldn’t make that assumption, but I can see that being a stereotype for women as well.

      2. Stranger than fiction*

        Yes, that and singles can sometimes be viewed as being willing and able to work limitless hours because they have no life.

    2. Former Diet Coke Addict*

      I think that’s usually specific to men, though: the stereotype is that men who are engaged or married are more likely to be settled family men, while women who are engaged or married are either flighty (taking lots of time off for wedding stuff) or young married women are just going to start popping out babies.

      1. Stranger than fiction*

        Yep cuz you know married men are “hungry” because they have a mortgage and kids etc as if single men or women don’t.

    3. Ad Astra*

      There are some studies that suggest men who married are perceived as more settled down and reliable, while women who are married are perceived as flaky, presumably because they’re just biding their time until it’s time to have babies and quit work (or, for the more modern sexist, presumably because they’ll be constantly dipping out early and calling in sick because of the kids they already have or will definitely have in the future).

      In most civilized people, these biases are unconscious, which makes me think wearing a ring may not have a huge effect one way or another. Marital status is more likely to color the way someone interprets the employee’s actions rather than affecting a deliberate evaluation of a candidate.

    4. Kate M*

      Some older men (or even sexist young men) see women’s place as being in the home, too. So sure, if you’re single and have to support yourself, then you can have a job until you get married and your husband can support you. But once you’re married, you should be taking care of the home and children. Plus, this also leads to those men hiring other men, because married men have families to support. Married women are only working as a hobby/to supplement income, instead of being the main breadwinner.

      Sad as it is, I still know some people in my hometown with this viewpoint.

      1. BananaPants*

        I just read a story in NPR last week about attitudes regarding educating girls and women being in the workforce. In the U.S., 6% of those polled said that when jobs are scarce, men have more right to a job than women. It’s not as bad as in other countries (37% in China and 73% in Pakistan agreed with that sentiment), but it’s still a sign that even in North America there are plenty of people who feel this way. That’s just how many people openly admitted to feeling men are more deserving of jobs than women – I’m positive that many more people share this bias, even if only subconsciously.

    5. Student*

      There’s a substantial body of evidence that women who are married get a salary penalty, whereas men who are married get a salary bonus. Singletons are closer to each other in pay, with men getting paid a bit more (for many fields, including my own – but it’s not uniform).

      There are many theories. Sexism regarding expectations that married women are earning “pin money” while men are “supporting their family”. The men are more likely to have a support spouse (even if she works, she probably does more of the chores and childcare), freeing the married men up to spend much more time/effort on work and weighing down the married women who are now doing chores for their husbands. Nobody can prove what’s going on at this point without a degree of transparency from employers that you are never going to get, and/or a degree of insight into married couple’s daily lives that you’re also unlikely to get.

    6. Elfine Starkadder*

      I was actually hired over another candidate because they knew I was married. They confessed later though that they knew my new academic boss would be a handful, and with a husband I’d have someone whose shoulder I could cry on after a bad day with the boss.

      Never had a bad day with that boss. When he got in a rage I handled him like a three year old having a tantrum, e.g. I became the maelstrom of calmness, and he always ran out of steam. Ended up learning so much in that job (despite the boss) that our department’s IT group hired me away from him.

    7. Blight*

      Apart from the typical assumptions about needing time off for the wedding, being distracted at work planning it and the impending doom of children popping out… some people claim that they use the ring size/value to judge the interviewee.

      If you come in with a big flashy ring then the interviewer can make the assumption that the couple is better off and the woman will be more free to take time off of work for the wedding and family matters. But if the ring is very basic then the interviewed may assume that they woman will be more dedicated to working despite the wedding and family matters because they need the money.

      A big flashy ring could also put an interviewer off in an entry level position. The interviewer could also use the ring to determine the ‘class’ of person that they are hiring to determine if they will fit in with the culture.

      1. BananaPants*

        I’ve heard this as well – engagement ring style and size as a marker of class and socioeconomic status.

        1. Ringless*

          I haven’t experienced this issue in employment since I’ve never been on a hiring committee, but in everyday life this is definitely the case (and is probably part of the reason why people choose to wear specific styles of rings in the first place). I see many women (not the majority) who work in very hands-on jobs that wear engagement rings with very large diamonds to said jobs. It’s certainly not a practical choice, since the rings are unwieldy and can potentially hurt themselves or others. On the flip side, you also have individuals who wear smooth wedding bands or just don’t wear a ring. (The interesting thing though was when a married male employee told me that he started wearing a plain wedding ring, even though his work was very hands-on, because other people kept bugging him about it. This was after I showed that I didn’t wear a ring to (slightly less hands-on) work (or the gym/pool, or the shower, or to sleep, or.. ever).)

    8. Lefty*

      My boss at my first permanent job told me that he preferred hiring married women over single ‘girls’ because the singletons went out too much were always coming in late and hungover. He then said that he didn’t like hiring Catholic girls because “they’ll be out 2 months of every year on maternity leave”. Yeah. Really. He really said that.

      One Friday after I was off the clock, I was putting on mascara in my cubicle and he stopped in to put something on my desk. Seeing what I was doing, he said, “Going out hunting I see.” What a guy.

  4. cuppa*

    I was engaged when I got my current position, wore my ring during the interview process, and the thought never really crossed my mind to do anything differently.

    1. Former Diet Coke Addict*

      Well, I went for an interview earlier this year with a woman who asked me “Would your husband be okay with you taking this job?” And again later “Would your husband let you take this job?” I went for an interview yesterday where one of the first questions the woman asked me was “I see you’re married. What does your husband do?” There are an awful lot of douchey people out there.

      1. The IT Manager*

        “No. Because when I tell him that you’re asking me that question, he’ll agree that I don’t want a job in a sexist office that asks those kinds of questions.”

        1. Bailey Quarters*

          exactly…that goes back to “getting the right job in the right culture.” Not in the medieval world.

      2. Friday's cupcake*

        Yup – I had a very similar conversation in a job interview about a year ago. The interviews kept asking me about my family – if I had kids, etc. – because this particular job would require a lot of overnight travel and night/weekend hours (none of which were mentioned in the original job posting). That interview was a wonderful glimpse into what I would be dealing with if I took the job.

        I took myself out the candidate pool shortly after that awful interview.

        1. Elizabeth West*

          Candidates with kids aside, that absolutely should have been in the job description. I would have self-selected out on that one for sure. I don’t want to work weekends.

          1. neverjaunty*

            Right? As if single people with no kids are thrilled to work 24/7 and have lots of travel, because why wouldn’t they.

      3. Ad Astra*

        I’m so surprised by this, but maybe I shouldn’t be. Even when relocation was involved, my interviewers always had the sense to ask something like, “So what does your husband think about potentially moving to [state]?” I don’t need his permission to anything, and my standard, and I can’t imagine him having any opinion whatsoever about my standard, run-of-the-mill desk job.

          1. A Minion*

            What would your husband think about you allowing us to interpret your former post as we see fit? Maybe we should call him and ask him, hmmmmm?

        1. manybellsdown*

          I could see a concern about how relocating will affect the family. Most employers don’t want to give you a bunch of family stress to deal with! Mr. Bells took a job that required a thousand-mile move a few years ago, and they flew ME out with him for the interview. Not to interview me, of course, but so that we could make an informed decision together about moving.

      4. Karowen*

        I genuinely don’t know how I’d respond to that other than “…let? As in allow? As in I need his permission?” (not snarky, just serious confusion that would need to be clarified.)

        1. KR*

          I have responded to people when they ask stupid questions like this about if my boyfriend would “let” me do certain things or have a problem with it. It’s worked amazingly. Little do they know that my boyfriend would never dare to try to control me or I would give him such a lecture on feminism it would make his head spin.

          1. Artemesia*

            Can’t resist sharing my favorite ‘let’ story again. I was heading to Kuwait right after the war to do some consulting for a couple of weeks. This came up while chatting with others during the church coffee hour on a Sunday where my daughter has sung in the service (why I went). Someone said ‘I can’t believe DH is letting you do that.’ My 12 year old daughter said ‘Let? Let? What is she a cocker spaniel?’ Such a foreign concept in our household.

          2. OhNo*

            Exactly. I think if I ever got this question in an interview, I would be so confused by it that my automatic response would be, “Why on earth do you think he would have a say in this?”

        2. NJ anon*

          Back in the 80’s I was newly married and going to college. A woman in my class said it was great my husband “let” me go to school. Huh? I politely told her that I didn’t need his permission. I can’t believe this still goes on!

      5. Allison*

        . . . yuck :( sometimes I realize how spoiled I am living in a relatively liberal part of the country.

        Growing up, I knew I didn’t want to be a housewife, and I’d tell people I wanted a career in this or that field, and they’d ask “but what about your husband? what about what he wants?” First of all, what husband? I was a teenager! Second, I wouldn’t marry someone who expected a housewife, problem solved.

        That said, sometimes you may want make sure the spouse is on board. We’ve had male candidates who’ve had to check with their wives to make sure they’d be okay with their husbands traveling a lot or working crazy hours. But straight-up asking a woman “what does your husband think?” is a little tone deaf.

        1. Bostonian*

          I think it’s common and reasonable for a potential employee to need to talk over a job offer with a spouse. Usually it falls under a general explanation of “taking some time to think about it”, but if an employer is pressuring someone for a quick answer I can understand a candidate saying that they’d like to discuss it with their spouse before committing.

          But from an employer perspective? That’s really none of the employer’s business and it’s weird to bring it up.

          Of course there are exceptions to this, like when a candidate is relocating and part of the package is employment for the spouse or the job is in a super-remote area or something. But ordinary office jobs? No way.

          1. Allison*

            You’re right, relocation is something people discuss with their spouses, but employers shouldn’t ask about it. They shouldn’t need to. Reasonable adults of both genders know to have these conversations without being prompted.

        2. HRChick*

          “what about what he wants?”

          The worst part of this was they were telling you at such a young age that your needs and desires come AFTER those of whomever you marry. That you are expected to subjugate your hopes and dreams to his. That’s really disappointing.

          1. Ad Astra*

            Nobody ever asks little boys, “But what about your [hypothetical] wife? What will she think about you being a firefighter/astronaut/pro athlete?” Which is interesting, since those are all jobs that would significantly impact the spouse’s/family’s lifestyle.

          2. Allison*

            Yes, seriously! And this is in New England! Like, the Boston area, full of progressive types. We were told “you can be whatever you want to be” but there was this weird, unspoken disclaimer of “as long as your husband’s okay with it.”

            To an extent, I get it, because to have any successful relationships, you have to negotiate things and you need to be willing to make sacrifices, but only to a reasonable extent. We shouldn’t expect all women be open to the idea of being a housewife, and we never ask teenage boys “law? what if your wife doesn’t want you working those long hours? a political career? yeesh, what if your wife doesn’t want the family in the public eye like that?”

            And we wonder why so many men rudely barge through life, expecting women to either accommodate their needs or graciously move out of the way, while we tell women they mustn’t do anything without consideration for everyone around them.

            1. KR*

              I do volunteer work in a group that focuses on veteran support, which is full of typical R-dropping, Dunkin Donuts gulping, blue collar New Englanders and the sexism is rampant. They don’t think they’re being sexist, but when they act like my enlisted boyfriend’s in charge financially (even though as veterans, they know more than anyone how little he makes) or joke that I’m going to stop working if I get married to him to take care of the kids, or ask if my boyfriend knows what I’m doing talking to a male my age/dressing a certain way/taking charge I know they’re definitely sexist. (run on sentence, oops…)

          3. Anx*

            Oddly, though, I wish it had occurred to me to think of this more!

            Relationships or marriage or kids were never a goal of mine or even something I expected, but I wish I had recognized that my being more invested in my non-romantic relationships than my own aspirations would end up translating into being an adult who is more fulfilled by friends and family (and I’m really not even that social) than accomplishments.

            I wish I had thought ahead and took seriously the fact that I may want to choose a boyfriend or marriage or having kids over a job. I think I always thought I’d just work and if I got married my spouse would work. I had no idea how hard it was to find two jobs in the same city. I don’t think it was as big of an issue then, but I wish I chosen more geo-flexible careers if I knew I wanted to work and to have a family.

          4. Blurgle*

            They’re actually telling you that your NEEDS should come before his whims.

            For one thing, what honest, decent man wants to be put in the position of being Big Mean Daddy to his wife and partner? Terribly sexist against men as well as women. For another, the entire “your spouse’s whims trump your needs” is Chapter 1 of the abusive spouse textbook. They were actually normalizing one of the cardinal signs of an abusive person.

          5. Blight*

            While it is none of the interviewer’s business about what the husband wants… it is a fair consideration when faced with a job offer.

            My husband would never want to get in the way of a good job for me – but at the same time I have the responsibility to put him and our marriage before my own selfish wants. So it certainly is worth asking yourself if this is what your spouse wants, it would be extremely selfish to just grab a job because it is so amazing but not care if it negatively impacts your spouse.

        3. Stranger than fiction*

          This could possibly have a religious component too, as in the old wives must obey their husbands bit. My mother has said to me more than once recently , when I tell her I’m not making dinner that night, “well what will (BF) do?” Or ” will he be upset?” And I’m like “uh no he’s a big boy and knows where the kitchen is”,

          1. Dawn*

            OMG, my whole family does this. I went on a week-long trip with my septuagenarian aunt last year and she and my mother both were like “BUT WHATEVER WILL MR. DAWN DOOOOO” and I’m like he’s a grown ass man he knows where the microwave is. My husband just laughed about it cause it meant he got to go to all the restaurants I usually don’t have an interest in.

            1. Blue_eyes*

              Oh man. This makes me love my in laws even more. They do the opposite of your family. I usually do all the cooking (husband does the dishes), so when I’m going away I make some things to leave for him. His family makes fun of him for not being more independent on that front.

          2. Rebecca in Dallas*

            Ugh, I got this more than a few times when I went vegetarian. “What about your husband? What do you cook for him?” First of all, men are perfectly capable of going without meat, their big muscles won’t shrivel up. Second, he is an adult and knows how to cook himself a steak or piece of chicken if he wants one.

            1. manybellsdown*

              Hah! I get something similar because my daughter is 99% vegetarian and I am a carnivore supreme. “You don’t cook for your child? What kind of mother are you?” Well, my child is a legal adult and can cook her own tofu because I don’t eat it.

            2. wanderlust*

              The story of my life. I told hubs if he wanted meat he could eat it as long as he cooks it himself. Otherwise, he’s eating whatever veggie dinner I’m making!

            3. Sneaky*

              I’m a vegetarian who used to be married to a meat eater, and people would often ask him “Well, does she MAKE you be vegetarian too?” And he’d say “Even if she wanted to, it would be pretty tough since there’s a Burger King down the street and I know how to drive.” FTR, 90 percent of the time he ate whatever I was cooking with no complaints, and the other 10 percent, he’d either grill himself a steak or go to the aforementioned Burger King. It really wasn’t the giant issue people seemed to think it would be.

        4. K.*

          One of my best friends has never wanted kids (I’ve mentioned her here on a question about tubal ligation on the open thread) and people used to ask her all the time, “But what if you meet a man who wants kids? What will you do?” and she was like ” … Not marry him, because we are fundamentally incompatible.” When she got married, it was “But what if your husband wants kids?” and she’d reply “I know he doesn’t, because he told me so when we started dating FIVE YEARS AGO.” Or “If he wanted kids, I wouldn’t have married him.”

          1. Andrea*

            Childfree married woman here, and yep, unfortunately my experience has been the same as your friend’s. It is infuriating. Gee, since I’m not an idiot, I made sure not to marry a man who wanted children, funny how that worked out. It’s frustrating how many people just don’t get it.

            1. CAF*

              I’m also a childfree married woman, but I don’t get this much because my husband is the more vehemently childfree one–and HE had the operation, not me! I don’t know if they ask about whether I will change my mind, but I’ve always been vocally against people having kids if they are unsure (I’ve seen what that does to children). As for me? I like kids, but I also like a lot of down time, and my cats satisfy my maternal urges. *shrug*

          2. Shell*

            And of course, then you get “but what if he changes his mind?” and I reply “…if it comes to that, then we divorce? Why is it only HIS theoretical choice that matters here?”

            They never have an answer to that one, funny enough.

          3. Dana*

            A huge part of the reason my boyfriend and I hit it off at first was because neither of us want children. We’ve been together for 5 years happily with no children, and it STILL comes up in lots of ways that are all sorts of icky from his family and mine. They barely gripe about “when are you getting married?” but we still get “when are you having kids?” I really need to memorize some of the zingers I’ve heard because it gets so, so old.

            1. shirley*

              “When I know I’ll be able to raise them in a world free from rude people who ask intrusive personal questions.”

      6. Traveler*

        Yep. I’ve gotten these same questions about what my husband would think. I work in a male dominated sector, and I don’t know if that’s a factor or a confirmation bias. Its not just men that ask though. In the past I’ve gotten “are you and your SO planning to buy a house or have children soon? We really prefer people with ties to the community. When people have (college educations) they don’t tend to stick around, but they do if they have (ties to the community” This was in a high turnover miserable job that anyone would have left for any reason if they could – it was a do this because it pays decent for the time being job, and they and all the candidates new.

        1. Former Diet Coke Addict*

          Pretty much a gaping look and “Uh, he doesn’t care, this is my job, not his.” And mentally filing it away for a good story!

          Same interview woman said “You can’t have kids story and work this job.”

      7. Observer*

        “Would your husband let you take this job?”


        Are you sure you’re not a time traveler?

      8. BananaPants*

        When my husband was interviewing he was virtually always asked about whether his wife worked or not, and when he answered in the affirmative they ALWAYS wanted to know what I do.

        He was interviewing for an internal job at a staffing firm that does a lot of work in my field, and we’re pretty sure his candidacy only continued through several rounds of interviews to give the interviewer the opportunity to get access to MY contacts on LinkedIn. He went to the first interview, the interviewer asked what I do for a living and where I work and Mr. BP said he was visibly excited at the response. The recruiter/interviewer sent me a link request that afternoon and I accepted it for fear of it negatively affecting my husband’s candidacy if I didn’t, only to discover that this recruiter then went bananas and contacted every single engineer or engineering manager who I’m linked to. Then my husband didn’t get the job and I un-linked immediately, but the damage was done. It was very embarrassing and awkward for me professionally – I will NEVER work with anyone from that firm as a result of his actions. The guy’s a principal there, too.

      9. HM in Atlanta*

        You’d also think that after learning he’s deceased, they would stop asking questions about husband but no. The people who ask questions like that move on to questions about how he died. Like I would like to talk about that with a stranger.

      10. Chalupa Batman*

        What the what?! LET you? I guess I do remember once being offered a job and saying “let me talk it over with my husband…you know what, I’m going to take it, so let’s just make this official.” I was pretty young and inexperienced, so I think my thought process was more that you’re not supposed to say yes right away, but then realized how stupid that felt and decided not to play games and just take the damn job. I don’t think it was ever part of the equation that my husband got a say. (For the record, I do think there are times your spouse inherently gets to be part of the conversation, especially if your career path could involve moving or some other major lifestyle changes. But that should happen at the “should I apply” phase or when evaluating an offer that has unexpected caveats, not when accepting an offer that’s within the parameters your spouse signed on for.)

        1. John*

          I think for some of us married/committed folk it isn’t just about one’s partner “getting a say,” which seems to imply that her/his rights are mainly veto rights. Some of us consider our relationship as a help to making important decisions in our lives. I ask my wife about stuff like this because she will inevitably think of things I haven’t, see things from an angle I haven’t considered.

          I’m interested in her counsel, not just her approval.

      11. Marketing Girl*

        Noooooooo. That…is….insane! Gosh, makes me nervous for my future job hunting sine I just got engaged in August and have ZERO plans of taking my ring off. But if any one asks me if my fiance or husband would “LET ME” take a job I would seriously worry about how this company views the world and how well I would fit into that culture. And also, ew. Sorry that happened to you. I probably would have made an involuntary face to both of those questions.

    2. Ama*

      It didn’t happen in a hiring interview, but just three years ago (in a major metropolitan area known for generally liberal social politics), a female boss told me in my exit interview that I should marry my boyfriend “for financial security.”

      I did not mention that part of the reason we were about to move in together (which she knew) was that he was about to quit his job to start his own business, so I was providing the financial security in the relationship for a little while.

      1. Ad Astra*

        A few weeks before my now-husband proposed, my female boss told me “Don’t get engaged. Marriage is stupid.” It was weird coming back from my vacation with a ring on.

      2. KR*

        I totally get this. I hate people joking about me getting my boyfriend to buy me things or pay for things for me or even make jokes about him providing for me. Not only do we not live together, but I make close to twice what he makes and have a more advanced degree than him. So I started bringing this up in response to these jokes and it’s worked wonders.

        1. Windchime*

          I had a salesclerk try to joke with me when I was buying something expensive about whether or not the man I was with would “let me” or would be upset with me when we got home. I replied, “Well, he’s my son so he doesn’t really get a say in the matter.” I mean, seriously. I was literally twice his age at the time of the conversation. But the person saw “man” while “woman” was buying something, and that’s immediately where the clerk’s mind went.

          1. Connie-Lynne*

            I get so annoyed when people make this joke.

            I just look back at them and say, coldly, “we’ve been in the same field for the entire fourteen-year duration of our marriage, and the only time he’s made less money than me is when I was on sabbaticals. I don’t think he really gets veto power on how I spend my income.” I have occasionally shortened it to “I have my own job and my own money; I don’t really care what some man thinks.”

            In truth, of course we go over the budget together and don’t buy big-ticket items without discussion. But that’s between us, as is what we consider “big ticket.”

            1. Hornswoggler*

              I HATE it when people make jokes about spending money and imply that my husband would somehow be upset. I always say “It’s my own money, and I can spend it as I wish”. Grr.

              1. Ad Astra*

                We have mostly blended finances, so for us it’s really our money, but that doesn’t mean I need permission to spend it. If I spend too much of our money and jeopardize our financial goals, he might be a little peeved, but I hate the implication that I’m shopping on daddy’s credit card or something. It’s not an allowance.

      3. Artemesia*

        One of the great things about marriage is that you do have each other to fall back on — but as you note, it is as likely to be him having you as a safety net as the other way. In my marriage, we have each been the breadwinner — I when he started his own firm and he when I lost my job in a merger — it was a lovely feeling both times to have that security (and health insurance.)

    3. Beti*

      The “will your husband let you take this job?” is pretty bad obviously but the others I could see as being legit. “I see you’re married. What does your husband do?” could be just to get to know you as a person or to find out if your husband is in the military, for example, and might be transferred to a new duty station.

      “So what does your husband think about potentially moving to [state]?” also doesn’t seem that off. If you are interviewing someone who will have to relocate, you’d want to make sure the family was on board. If the family is unhappy or the spouse can’t find a job in the new city, the employee could very well quit so they could move back.

      Yes, there are sexist hiring managers but we don’t know for a fact that these questions weren’t asked of all candidates.

      1. Traveler*

        That is always a risk though moving out of state – and if not husband boyfriend/friends/parents can factor in the same way. There’s really way of knowing until you’re on the ground and see what happens after a few months, and employers should be aware of that. I’ve done it a lot, feel pretty good about making those judgment calls, and there are still places I move where I think “Well, that was a mistake…and it seemed so good going in too!”

      2. Decimus*

        I have to agree “So what does your husband think about potentially moving to [state]?” and possibly “what does your husband do” are more yellow flag questions than a red flag. It could be a sexist question, or it could be a way to see if your family is on board with the move. I’d take those questions as an indicator to take a much, much closer look at the company’s structure and culture.

        1. Allison*

          Those are legit concerns, but you don’t have to ask like that. First, as was covered somewhere else in the thread, if a job would entail moving or a lot of travel, surely a married person would talk it over with their spouse without the employer prompting them to do so. And, if it must come up, it can be asked like “this job would mean moving, will you be able to do that?” or “you’d be traveling a lot, will that be feasible?” and a married person could consider the impact on their spouse and/or children as part of whether it’s do-able.

        2. Amy UK*

          I think questions like that are insulting whatever the purpose. They’re either sexist and thus insulting for obvious reasons. Or they’re assuming that the employee is too stupid or cruel to consider that his family might have an opinion on a huge move.

          It should be assumed that the employee has discussed these private family matters in private, with their family.

      3. Ad Astra*

        In my case, it was a phone interview and I had already mentioned my husband (or I guess fiancee at the time), so that added to the legitimacy. I knew the interviewer wasn’t glancing down at my ring and then drawing conclusions; she just knew that it wouldn’t be a unilateral decision.

        Come to think of it, the only people I interviewed with for that job were women. Two were married and obviously quite career-driven, and one was single and an outspoken feminist.

      4. Former Diet Coke Addict*

        As it happens my husband is in the military and I get asked about him on just about every interview I go on. It’s never intended to learn about me as a person, it’s always done to find out if I’m going to skip town. Always. And secondly, I got asked that question pretty much as soon as I sat down–she hadn’t even asked me about myself yet. Asking about a whole family relocation is pretty different and obviously usually a family decision, but asking me random questions about my husband isn’t a good way to interview me.

      5. Sparrow*

        Yeah, I got a question in this vein at an interview a couple of years ago. Based on the particular context and the way she phrased it, I’m confident that she genuinely intended it in a “get to you know you” kind of way, but it was still incredibly jarring. I could practically feel my prospective boss cringe, ha.

    4. Merry and Bright*

      In 2013 I interviewed at a company where the (female) interviewer asked me if I was married. I replied “No, are you?” Her face was a picture. I didn’t get the job of course but I’d already figured by then that it wasn’t the place for me.

      1. John*

        That is so weird! If you are asking an interviewee whether they’re married, pretty much the only innocent reason would be because you were making idle conversation, like asking, “Are you from around here?” Why would someone asking innocently mind you asking her the same question? It would be like saying, “Yeah, I’ve lived here all my life. How about you?”

    5. Elizabeth the Ginger*

      Well, it is an old letter… but presumably not from 1971, unless Alison is getting letters from time travelers. (OP, if you are a time traveler, then you don’t need a job from any sexist mad scientist research labs. Go start your own!)

    6. Alicia*

      On my phone interview with my first job (very very small company) right out of grad school, I was flat out asked “are you married?” to which I responded “no, I’m not”. Which is not a lie, because I was engaged. On my notes from that call I have “RED FLAG – inappropriate boundaries”. The CEO then prodded further and said “so, are you going steady with anyone?” My reply was “I am engaged, however my fiancé is supportive of the move that would come with this role, otherwise I would not have applied”. Slightly passive-aggressive on my part, but even as a new grad, I knew this was way outside the proper line of questioning.

      This was 2013.

        1. Alicia*

          Their rationale was they didn’t want anything that might be pulling me back to my home-town, such as a long distance relationship, etc. But yeah, it was completely inappropriate.

    7. MashaKasha*

      I know right? It took me a while to even remember why this might be an issue.

      Only time I’ve heard of it happening to someone I know was in the 80s in freakin Eastern Europe. A childhood friend’s wife went in for an interview and the interviewer was, Are you married? well then you’re going to have kids and go on maternity leave and never come back. Friend’s wife said she doesn’t plan to have kids right away and the interviewer’s response was “yeah that’s what you all say”. As it turned out, my friend was unable to have children so they never did have any together… Anyway, I cannot believe that this is still a thing!! Is there any way for OP to leave town?

    8. A Minion*

      It has never actually occurred to me to even question whether or not to wear my wedding/engagement ring to a job interview before. No one’s ever advised me not to or even mentioned it in passing. I live in a very conservative part of the country and I’m actually pretty conservative myself, so I’m wondering where on earth this OP could possibly be from.
      I do think I was asked once if I wanted to discuss a job offer with my husband before accepting. I think it was couched more like, “We’ll give you a day or so to think it over, talk it over with your husband or whatever you need to do. Just get back to us by Friday.” So, that was a little better than asking out right if my husband would approve of my job choice, but still obnoxious. I took the job because it was temporary and that’s what I wanted right then and it was a great experience while I was there, so I don’t know.
      But the wedding ring question has never crossed my mind.

  5. Daisy Steiner*

    I started a new job about 3 weeks before I was scheduled to get married. I didn’t tell them why I needed the leave (which I put on the table upfront in the interview process), just that it was all booked and couldn’t be changed. I also didn’t mention I was getting married till the day before I left.

    BUT the reason I did this was simply because I didn’t want to be ‘that girl who’s getting married’ while I was getting to know everyone at the new job. I didn’t want it to become a Big Deal, with everyone asking (however kindly!) about the arrangements. I just preferred to keep it to myself.

    I’m not sure if that adds anything to the conversation, but anyway…

    1. CMT*

      I totally understand your reasoning, but I would probably think it was weird if my new coworker didn’t say he or she was getting married until the day before they left for vacation. It would seem unnecessarily secretive. But, I do realize that’s not the right attitude to have — my coworkers’ personal lives are none of my business and it shouldn’t bother me at all.

      1. Daisy Steiner*

        I understand what you’re saying. No one seemed too upset when they found out, though – in fact, someone dashed around with a card for everyone to sign before I left!

        As you say, it just kind of felt like a personal thing to share with people who didn’t know me at all (at that point) – I literally had only been working with them for about 15 business days. If I had known them longer, I wouldn’t have felt the need to be secretive. I too would be taken aback if someone I had been working with for a while came back from their holidays married!

        1. K.*

          This happened at my first job out of undergrad. I’d been working there about a year and he came on board a few months after I did. He took a vacation and came back a few weeks later all “Everybody, meet my wife.” Said wife was very young-looking. I don’t know how old she was but she didn’t just look younger than he (he was 30something); she looked “Is it legal for you to get married?” young. I was 23 or so at the time and she looked young to ME. So between the “Surprise, I’m married!” thing and her youthful appearance, it was a little disconcerting.

          1. Clever Name*

            Heh. This reminds me of an old neighbor introducing his new wife to the neighbors. None of us had seen her in our lives (this was a cul-de-sac, and the way the houses were situated pretty much meant that we were all up in each other’s business- so it was odd that we hadn’t even seen her coming and going at least once) , and after they went inside, we all looked at each other and were like, “Wow. I didn’t even know he was dating anyone.”

      2. Brooke*

        I eloped once already (marriage didn’t last, but the elopement was a great decision) and I’d totally do it again. So in that sense, my coworkers found out even later… ;)

    2. Christy*

      I haven’t told any of my coworkers either–they just know I’m going on leave in late March/early April. And I’ll stop referring to my girlfriend and start referring to my wife. There’s a lot of weird expectations and questions about marriage and kids, and besides, all of my coworkers are remote anyway, so it’s not like there’s a lot of random office chatter.

      I’m also pretty new (started in July) but I haven’t even told my old coworkers, who are still in the same agency. Haven’t felt the need.

      So I get you.

      1. Bailey Quarters*

        We got married rather suddenly…fiance was going in for surgery and we wanted to make sure I could legally be able to do all I could to assist with his care. We told NO ONE outside of immediate family. When I went back to work, co workers noticed I had a new ring. I did have one person who was upset that she wasn’t told. That reinforced my belief that her boundaries were way off. Everyone else was thrilled for us.

    3. Daisy Steiner*

      Plus I should add that I wore my engagement ring for the interview – but as it’s not a typical solitaire ring (it’s a half-eternity ring), people wouldn’t necessarily assume it was an Engagement Ring.

    4. Traveler*

      Excellent advice. I wish I had done this. I got married a few weeks after a new job too. Everyone kept asking very nicely about details. It is after all something familiar people can latch on to and start conversation about. My wedding was particularly rough going though thanks to ILs and I had to give half truths and skim over things and smile a lot. It was not fun. I’ve known people that I’ve worked with though, that if I had held that info back I would have been punishes for not sharing/opening up. So, get a lay of land and known your own situation before you do this!

  6. Lisa*

    If OP is a teacher, she should take off the ring. People are still old school and will not hire you if they think you are of child bearing age. As told to 3 female friends getting degrees in education by our college in MA.

    1. Ad Astra*

      That’s extra weird because teaching is a job that’s very well suited to parenthood. You get all the holidays off, significant time off in the summers, and you can leave as early as 4 p.m. in some districts. Most of my female teacher friends are choosing to have babies somewhat early (in their 20’s vs. their 30’s) and then returning to work as soon as their leave is up.

    2. Anonymous Educator*

      I’ve been working in education a long time, and I can tell you this is patently false. Unconscious bias aside (see my comment downthread), I have seen very little evidence for schools not hiring women teachers of child-bearing age. If anything, it’s the opposite. Even though age discrimination is illegal, it’s a lot easier for a 25- to 35-year-old teacher to get a job than a 55-year-old teacher to get one. Schools recognize that maternity leaves are a necessary part of doing business, and especially in the elementary and middle school levels, they can’t prefer to hire male teachers (there just aren’t as many).

    3. Muriel Heslop*

      I’ve been in education for over 20 years and I have never seen or heard of this being true. In my experience, it is much for challenging for an older (50+) candidate with no teaching experience to be hired than a young one.

      1. Ad Astra*

        One of the more frustrating elements of these sexist view points, imo, is the assumption that all married women will have children and that no unmarried women will have children.

    4. Elizabeth the Ginger*

      I disagree with your college professor. I’m a teacher, and my school shows no qualms about hiring young women for fear that they’ll have babies. I’ve been on multiple hiring committees and have never heard anyone express concern about a candidate over her child-bearing probability. There is a bias towards hiring people with more years of experience, which sometimes translates to slightly older people, but lots of the hires we’ve made in the 7 years I’ve been there have been women in their 20s and 30s. And yes, many of them have gone on to get married while here (including me) and many have taken maternity leave (not including me). The school has been really great with its leave policies and is in general a really family-friendly place to work – after all, who better than a school to understand that dealing with kids sometimes comes with surprises?

      1. Lisa*

        I wasn’t an education major, but my 2 roommates were and 1 was engaged by senior year. The college set up the interviews in school districts where you’d think this wouldn’t be an issue – but they were told by their professors (previous public school teachers) not wear any rings at all during the interviews with the principals or headmasters.

        1. Owl*

          As regular readers of this blog are aware, college professors are often wildly out of touch with real-life hiring practices.

          1. Honeybee*

            Yeah, I was going to say this. I had a college professor who taught my section of the senior seminar, part of which focused on job readiness; she told us that we MUST interview in a skirt suit with pantyhose or risk not getting jobs ever. But she also made us sit in alphabetical order.

        2. fposte*

          How long ago had their professors been teachers, though–or, more importantly, involved with hiring? It’s one thing if they were hiring people the year before and heard hiring committee members say this; it’s another if that was the wisdom when they were applying for jobs 20 years previously.

          1. Observer*

            Even then, I find it hard to believe. I went to school in the 70’s and 80’s and (at least in my school) NO ONE worried about married teachers – and this is in an “ultra orthodox” school, where birth control is not well look on.

        3. Thomas W*

          It would be far from the first example of colleges giving out-of-touch advice on how to get jobs.

        4. blackcat*

          When I was doing my student teaching, I wasn’t married or engaged yet, but my cooperating teacher for my student teaching told me to play UP the fact that I was looking to relocate to my then boyfriends’ hometown. This was to show that I’d likely stick around for a long time and deal with concerns that I was currently out of state. He also said it would make me seem more mature, which he viewed as an issue for me since I was a very young looking 22 year old.

          Given I had no problem getting job offers and did discuss this in interviews, I think he gave me good advice.

      2. Elsajeni*

        Also, based on the demographics of my teaching licensure program… if schools don’t want to hire women of childbearing age, they are really going to be facing a teacher shortage soon, because that describes 75%-85% of the education students I knew.

    5. Observer*

      It sounds like the adviser needs to get with the program. What does she (or he?) think schools are going to worry about? That the poor innocent children will get to see a pregnant woman in the classroom?

  7. Anonymous Educator*

    While I agree with Alison’s advice here, I think a piece missing from the conversation is unconscious bias. It’s common knowledge that job applicants with “Black-sounding” names are less likely to get interviews than job applicants with “White-sounding” names. There may be some out-and-out malicious racists out there saying “Lakeesha? I’m never going to hire a Lakeesha!!!” In most cases, though, it’s probably a very subtle unconscious bias that just prefers “Jimmy” to “Jamal.”

    Likewise, while there are probably outright explicit sexists thinking to themselves “Engagement ring? Wonder how long it’ll take for her to get pregnant and never come back from maternity leave,” I’m sure most cases of sexist hiring practices would be totally unconscious discrimination.

    It’s always better if you get the right place to work, but sometimes you just need a job. Not saying I disagree with Alison’s advice. I actually fully agree with it—keep the ring on and go for jobs that don’t discriminate. But sometimes when you’re desperate, you’re desperate, and I think a lot of us have been there.

    1. Owl*

      I understand that unconscious bias exists, but I don’t see how that can be in play here. I mean if you’re looking at a woman’s hand to see if they’re married, you’re doing it because you have opinions about it. You don’t unconsciously notice a ring and then unconsciously process that she’s going to married soon and then unconsciously decide she’s going to go AWOL. That’s too many steps.

      And with regard to a level of desperation, that’s sort of always the case, right? You have to weigh how much need a job with the red flags going up.

      1. Anonymous Educator*

        You don’t unconsciously notice a ring and then unconsciously process that she’s going to married soon and then unconsciously decide she’s going to go AWOL. That’s too many steps.

        I disagree. That’s exactly how unconscious bias works, except that you don’t decide she’s going to go AWOL. You just decide that you prefer another candidate for some unknown reason because you have “a better feeling about” her/him.

        1. Annie*

          I disagree. That’s exactly how unconscious bias works. . .

          Just repeating the above because it’s true: unconscious bias is so insidious. The fact that it doesn’t make logical sense to us when we break it down into a series of conscious decisions is part of why it’s so insidious!

      1. Marcela*

        I was very ashamed of my results. Even when I try everyday to fight my prejudices, there are biases hidden in the corners of my mind. Gah!

    2. InfoGeek*

      But for me to notice whether you’re wearing an engagement ring or not during an interview would require it to be EXTREMELY large or for you to be playing with it during the interview.

      I just don’t notice those things. So, it would be hard for me to have unconscious bias for or against the ring.

  8. Penelope Pitstop*

    FWIW OP, I think you’re overthinking. Not that big a deal. I’m married, but don’t have a wedding band – only an engagement ring/diamond. Sometimes I wear that; sometimes I wear nothing; sometimes I wear a silver band. I’m not the only one. From my perspective, my choice or absence of ring changes anything about how I interview, whether I’m the best candidate or whether I’m a cultural fit. If it does for them, I’m grateful–a door closed for that reason is one that I don’t want to open.

  9. Karowen*

    This is actually why I withdrew from the hiring process with a company recently. The CEO’s questions to me were mostly about rather personal things, like my siblings (whether I had any, what I liked most about them) and when I was getting married. When I seemed a little confused (not aghast, just sort of surprised) at the marriage question, he was incredibly rude and basically said I had to expect that question if I came in wearing my ring.

    And, to be clear, these were not getting to know you questions. These were in the middle of pressuring me to give an exact amount of hours I would need to write something when I knew nothing of the parameters of the something. Like, he’d ask me ridiculous work questions, get frustrated when I gave a truthful answer instead of saying “1!” and then ask me a ridiculous personal question and repeat.

    Okay, so there were lots of red flags, but the ring thing stood out to me.

    1. Elizabeth the Ginger*

      The sibling questions just seem irrelevant, not like an attempt to discriminate – but that’s a red flag to have a CEO that uses valuable interview time to focus on irrelevant things!

      1. Karowen*

        Oh yeah, that one didn’t feel discriminatory to me, just super duper weird. It was a position that would’ve had to work closely with the CEO, though (as well as with another interviewer that had me crying after I left the office), so I passed.

    2. NGL*

      Wow, what a nut.

      When I was first looking for jobs, while engaged/newly married, I usually took off my ring. One time I left it on, and the HR woman did ask me about it – but in a chatty, making small talk sort of way, and she immediately said “Oops! I shouldn’t have asked about that.” Which I really appreciated. I didn’t end up getting that job, but that was more to do with the hiring freeze that the company put in place shortly after starting to interview (thank you, September 2008 economy).

    3. wanderlust*

      Did he ask you your high school GPA? If so, you may have interviewed with my former boss. When I got married, he was CONVINCED I was about to pop out a baby and leave him forever. Little did he know that I didn’t need to have a baby to GTFO.

    1. Karowen*

      I think Alison has mentioned before that if you have an ad blocker installed it requires you to register. I could be horribly wrong, though.

    2. Ask a Manager* Post author

      If you’re outside the U.S. or using an ad blocker, Inc. may ask you to register in order to read more than one article there. That’s because they otherwise aren’t able to earn any revenue from those page views, which they’re of course dependent on.

      1. Cynical Lackey*

        I’m in the USA, but I do use adblock plus. I disabled it and got right through. Thanks Alison and Karowen.

      2. The IT Manager*

        I think you will have to add that info to future Inc. links. It seems like you keep saying that.

    3. Inc problems here, too*

      I can’t even get the page to load. It just sits and sits then times out with a weird yellow background, no text, and a red-outlined shadowy rectangle at the top.

  10. Angela*

    It has never occurred to me to take off my ring for any interviews. And as for the “would your husband let you…” nonsense that is occasionally said, I give the same answer every time: WE don’t ask each other for permission. Honestly, it amazes me that this conversation has to be had in 2015.

  11. LCSO*

    I had this debate with myself about 6 months ago, when I was interviewing for my current job. I actually decided to take the ring off, not wanting to take any chances (I was being made redundant and so had limited time to get another job). This upset my fiancé a little as he was much more on Alison’s side of the fence – if it bothers them then it’s not a good fit – but I wasn’t convinced, and frankly didn’t want the risk.

    Ultimately however, the day of the interview rolled around and I forgot to take my ring off. Only noticed it half way through the interview, at which point taking it off would have been obvious. I was getting along well with the interviewers anyway, and ended up being offered the job so the ring clearly didn’t matter.

  12. Jessica*

    “my fiance even jokes about being the “house husband” in the distant future when we have kids”

    Wait, what is the joke? It’s only a joke if he’s NOT actually feminist and WOULDN’T actually consider being the house husband.

    1. Shell*

      I think this is reading bad intentions where there are none. For all we know, both the OP and the fiance plan to be working parents.

    2. Jerzy*

      I think you’re reading this wrong. It sounds like they like the idea and are making fun of societal norms that say this is weird.

      My husband would genuinely like to be a stay-at-home, and if we’re ever in a position where I make enough money to support the family (not likely, but could happen, I suppose), he would jump at the chance. We “joke” about it because of it’s unlikelihood considering the average salaries in his line of work vs. mine.

      1. Blue_eyes*

        Agree with everything Jerzy said. My husband would also love to stay at home when we have kids. His work can often be performed remotely, so it’s possible that we could make it work financially if he could work at least part time remotely. I would get major cabin fever staying home, plus we like the idea of flipping the script on who stays home.

    3. JC*

      I also want to point out that a man can be a feminist but also can not consider being a house husband. My feminist husband wouldn’t consider being a house husband because he likes working, which is the same reason why I wouldn’t consider being a housewife.

    4. bridget*

      I read it as “we are considering having him be the stay at home parent at some point, because we are not bogged down with rigid gender roles,” which they jokingly refer to as “house husband.” My husband and I often use almost the identical joke.

    5. Dr. Johnny Fever*

      I think this is a joke about the social norms, not on feminism.

      FWIW, my husband is a very happy stay-at-home dad of 7 years who couldn’t imagine ever going back to work. He’s as thrilled as a pig in mud to take care of our home.

      Me? I was itching to go back to work after maternity leave, crave human contact, break plates when I load the dishwasher, and routinely turn towels pink. Fortunately, I have the earning power to make it happen. And I’m as thrilled as a pig in mud to immerse myself in my work puzzles and not worry about school days off, daycare pickups, and doctor appointments.

      It works for us :)

  13. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)*

    I think I remember a Corporette thread about something like this, except that the question was about a super-massive, obviously hugely expensive ring. (Or was it a bag? Like a Birkin or something?)

    1. Ad Astra*

      I did feel weird about wearing my new Coach bag (a graduation gift) to job interviews because I worried it would make me look like I didn’t really need the job. But I was grossly overestimating the perceived fanciness of Coach, and I hadn’t quite escaped the mentality that a job is a business arrangement, not a favor.

      1. Stranger than fiction*

        You know, I have to sheepishly admit, that a couple of coworkers and I used to talk smack about an entry level person our company hired a few years ago because she was constantly dressed to the nines in head to toe designer threads and drove a Mercedes. It just stuck out in our very modest company culture and sure enough she left after about six months to work at a financial firm. But I wouldn’t judge you for a handbag alone.

        1. Thomas W*

          I’ve been guilty of this myself. We have an intern who lives in a $4m house that his parents bought for him, and when I first heard that, I scoffed that this job was just a game for him. Turns out he’s a hell of a smart and dedicated young employee and we’re all glad he’s here and eager to work hard for $13/hr.

      2. LBK*

        Huh. When I got hired at my current company I bought myself a Coach briefcase that I’d been eyeing for months as a congratulatory present. Now I wonder if the optics of that were questionable coming into an entry-level job that probably would not have allowed me to afford it (but I was making bank at my old job and had saved up a lot of money). Although I suspect probably not thanks to male privilege.

    2. Honeybee*

      It was both. You might be thinking of the article Corporette wrote about interns wearing really expensive items; one of the examples given was a Birkin bag and another example, IIRC, was a huge expensive engagement ring.

    3. Lindsay J*

      There definitely was a question about a Birkin bag and whether it would be okay an intern or a first year lawyer or something like that to carry one.

  14. Jerzy*

    When interviewing for my current position, we were discussing the potential travel involved. The CEO asked me if there was “anything in my life” that might prevent me from being able to travel up to once a month. I could tell by the weight he put into the words that he was fishing to see if I have kids. I have a toddler-aged son, but I also have a husband, and family and friends nearby who my son is incredibly comfortable with, so I said no. I have been here since March and have only had to make two 1-2 day trips. No problems, and with Skype, I even get to say goodnight.

    I know I’d never know if I was turned down for a position because I’m married or have kids, but if I did find that out, I’d feel like I dodged a big, fat bullet.

    1. Clever Name*

      To be fair, men and single people can have things in their life that interfere with travel. Having a dog or elderly parents can mean someone is not able to travel.

  15. ALP*

    I am SO surprised by this question! I am a young woman in my mid-twenties and look MUCH MUCH younger than I am, and I’ve always thought an engagement ring might make me appear older, more mature, more likely to be taken seriously. Grass is always greener I guess?

    1. Jerzy*

      I long for the day when women don’t have to worry about this kind of thing at all, and we just have to be concerned with our resume, interview answers and overall experience when applying for jobs.

      1. Grapey*

        For what it’s worth, I interviewed with a ring on my finger when I was single just because that was the only finger the ring fit on! Got the job and am here 8 years later. Never occurred to me until a few years later people would make a choice based on that.

        So, it was that day for one person 8 years ago. :)

  16. Jen*

    Sadly, in 2009 I was on a hiring committee and we were interviewing people for a job opening (the previous person had a baby and decided to stay at home rather than return to work). One woman was engaged and wore the ring. Someone snooped on her facebook status and saw that she marked her relationship as “engaged” and I could not convince him that she should be hired. Could not. He even said “I’m tired of having to hire someone new every two years because they keep leaving to have babies.” – the rest of the place was very open, very family friendly. Ever since then I’ve been cautious. I even take down photos of my kids from social media.

  17. Not Today Satan*

    I interviewed while engaged and didn’t wear my ring. I live in a liberal area, but there’s just too much baggage at risk–people wondering whether you’ll get pregnant soon and leave, or assumptions that you’re either wealthy or not depending on the size of the ring, etc.

  18. Mockingjay*

    Thirty years ago, I was asked in an interview if I had a boyfriend. “You don’t have a boyfriend, do you? No plans to get married and leave?”
    I replied something along the lines of “no, I am looking forward to starting my career.” Haven’t been asked that since.

    But, a few years ago, one of the guys I worked with approached me quietly and asked if I was getting a divorce. I was extremely puzzled until he said, “I notice you’re not wearing your wedding ring.” My ring was at the jewelers for repair. Apparently several people in the office had noticed.

    Kinda weird. Are we subconsciously conditioned to look for a ring?

    1. J.B.*

      Wow! I’m not wearing mine today because I left it at home, and didn’t wear it a lot when pregnant because my fingers swelled just a bit. Pretty sure folks realized I was married, or at least had the grace not to say anything :)

    2. Allison*

      I’m not, I never think to look for a ring. Which is probably why, a couple months ago, I went on a date only to discover two days later he was married. Then I thought “frick, I didn’t even notice if he was wearing a ring or not!” When I meet someone my age, the possibility of that person being married doesn’t even cross my mind.

      But maybe that’s because I’m only 26 and not even close to being married.

    3. MashaKasha*

      Ackk!!! I was married 18 years and my husband never wore a ring. He never HAD a ring. He borrowed his dad’s ring for our wedding and then returned it. No one ever asked why he wasn’t wearing a ring. But as soon as I took mine off, a nosy coworker (who was new and, I’m 100% sure, never saw me with or without the ring before that conversation) needed to know why. Just a random ice-breaker. “Hey, why aren’t you wearing a wedding ring?”

      Did I take the hint and lie to her that the ring was at the jeweler’s? Nope, I stupidly told her that I was separated and in the process of getting divorce. Next day, she came to my cubicle with unsolicited marriage advice, urging me to reconcile with my ex-husband, whom she had never seen. Good times.

    4. Dr. Johnny Fever*

      That is really weird. I can’t wear my rings because the white gold contains nickel (allergy), so I keep them home in a safe place. No one has ever asked about the absence of a ring when I mentioned my husband.

    5. Elsajeni*

      I dropped my engagement ring behind a heavy bookcase once, and left it back there for, um, a while. (I lived alone! The bookcase was very heavy! Anyway, I figured the ring was perfectly safe where it was, and even if there were, like, mice jewel thieves back there it was a fake rock that cost me a grand total of $17.) Most people didn’t seem to notice, but it really bothered my grandmother.

  19. penny*

    I can honestly say I’ve never noticed whether someone was wearing an engagement ring during an interview. Even when they tell me they’re engaged (no I don’t ask anything related to that), I’ve never noticed. Maybe I’m just unobservant or I’m more worried about getting the relevant info I need.

    1. Ife*

      I was also surprised by the idea that people would notice! Let alone take the time to figure out if it was just an engagement ring or if it was an engagement ring + wedding ring.

      1. Shell*

        I would notice. I’m the type that notices a change in glasses, haircut, rings, different shoes, etc for everyone. I don’t even make a particular effort. I’m just good noticing that kind of detail/changes.

        Of course, noticing a change and remarking about the change are two entirely different things, and I always keep my mouth shut.

  20. Dulcinea*

    Out of curiosity, I’d like to take an informal poll here: how old does a woman have to be/look to avoid the assumption that she is planning to have children in the near future?

    1. Ad Astra*

      Well, if she looks any older than, like 27, people (my mom) will nag her about how she’s “running out of time.”

      Really, though, I would guess people stop saying stuff like that around age 40.

      1. Dijon*

        I don’t even know about 40. I’m 34 and the other day my mom told me about someone she knew who just had her first baby at 40. My mom is desperate for a grandchild (I’m her only kid), so I guess she’ll keep holding out hope til I tell her I’ve gone through menopause.

        1. Ad Astra*

          Well, you may have just painted a pretty accurate picture of my future. My mom has been bugging me about how “it’s so much harder on you’re body” since I was 25. I’ve been married two years but never got to take a honeymoon, so I’m bound and determined to stay baby free until at least after I finally take my week in Hawaii. I’m not letting that hypothetical baby take my hypothetical honeymoon fund.

          1. Ad Astra*

            I’m pretty sure AAM is the only place in the world where I mess up your and you’re. I don’t know why.

            1. Anx*

              OT, but I mess up you’re and your all of the time when I’m using quick communication media.

              I have had the concept mastered since middle school. I don’t really make the mistake when writing by hand. But frequently, when I’m typing along, I may have started a sentence where you’re made more sense, then switched to one with your, but my brain doesn’t register the change. For example

              “You really need to be careful when your typing” results when I almost typed You really need to be careful about your typing”

          2. Honeybee*

            Haha, same. I’ve been married for three years and my husband and I still haven’t taken a honeymoon or really any trip together, just the two of us. We’ve either been in school or long-distance for a good deal of our relationship. We’re finally going to be neither starting in May, and I definitely want to travel first and save up so we can buy a home before we even think about having kids, so I think they’re at least 5 years down the road for me.

            But I’m 29 so when I tell family that they think I’m crazy. I get to hear about how my eggs are dying and it’s so much harder on my body and it’s not going to bounce back etc. etc. Best part is that I’m a trained health researcher so I know how to asses the risks of having kids beyond X age for myself.

          3. overeducated and underemployed*

            Good move :) I found out I was pregnant a week before our two-year-delayed honeymoon, and was quite disappointed to have to miss out on all the good wine in our destination!

      1. Daisy Steiner*

        Yep, people wondered whether Hillary Clinton’s becoming a grandmother was going to affect her decision to run for president :-/

    2. MashaKasha*

      I’ve always avoided that assumption, but then I had two kids by age 30. No interviewer ever assumed that I was dying to have more. But having two young children, to rephrase another comment on this thread, brings a whole new set of assumptions.

      Otherwise, I’d agree with Ad Astra above and guess that you’d have to look 40.

    3. Stella Maris*

      Good point. I was going to say that whether I wear my engagement and wedding rings or not, it’s pretty obvious that I am a woman in [potential] childbearing years. If that affects a hiring decision, wearing a ring or not isn’t going to help or hurt.

  21. Liz T*

    But what about for the purposes of negotiating salary? I’m withholding that I’m engaged not because I think people won’t hire me, but because single women get offered more money than married women. (It’s the opposite for men; there’s a (usually unconscious) bias that married women need less money, because they have a husband’s income, but married men need more money, because they have a family to support.

  22. Accountant*

    It is sickening and disheartening that this is still a question.

    The only time I have worried about my engagement ring is when I was making $9 an hour working for a non profit that served poverty stricken children. I was temping there part time and got really worried that they would think I didn’t need the job when they saw my ring. The diamond is moderately (but not absurdly) large, and it’s an heirloom so we didn’t even pay for it, but I just got self conscious about how it might look from a financial standpoint. After a while, once I felt comfortable there I started wearing it. Then my boss made weird comments about it, but she was a weird lady. Since then I’ve just worn it from day one in any interviews or new jobs. Whatever happens happens.

    1. Zebra*

      Interesting! I have a cousin who has a diamond engagement ring that cost in the neighborhood of $10K, and she works in non-profit. I’ve never thought about how something like that could affect a potential salary.

    2. The Bimmer Guy*

      “It is sickening and disheartening that this is still a question.”

      And the worst part is that you know there’s a completely different standard for men, too. No one bats an eye if you happen to be a bachelor when you’re applying for a job.

  23. Merry and Bright*

    This discussion has brought to mind my first office job in the 1980s. They were interviewing for a senior admin role and were discussing the applications in the office. One of the managers wanted to dismiss one of the interviewees because she was 28 and unmarried and so there ‘must have been something wrong with her.’ Damned if you are, damned if you aren’t in some quarters. Such exist attitudes still aren’t too far away it seems.

    1. I'm a Little Teapot*

      *flips tables in rage*

      I had a male friend once who wanted to be more who told me – when he was over 30 himself, and I was in my late 20s – that all unmarried women over 30 were “emotionally damaged,” whatever that means. (Another one of my friends parsed it as “sluts,” but I’m not sure.) This was one of the first signs that he was far too much of a tool to associate with, no matter how many interests we had in common.

      1. Lindsay J*

        Ugh, that reminds me of the red pill (read: sexist asshole) belief that once a woman hits 30 she loses her “market value” because her looks are going to go downhill.

      2. Observer*

        So let me get this straight – He thought he was going to convince you to be more than just a friend by insulting you. Did I get that right? Idiot is probably the kindest word I could come up with for that.

      3. LBK*

        I’ve heard this before, too. I think the idea is that if a woman hasn’t found someone willing to marry her by then, there must be something really wrong with her (ie that she has a lot of baggage, hence “emotionally damaged”). There’s just so many awful layers to this thought process: that all women want to get married ASAP (or at all); that women are so desperate to get married that they’d settle for anyone who will marry them rather than waiting for the right person; that all men are so desperate that they’d take basically anyone who wasn’t a total nutcase; that people with mental illness and/or a dark history are undateable/unmarriable; that bad people are always the product of bad circumstances (and good people can’t have baggage), etc.

        I think it stems heavily from the “nice guy” mentality, where you trade good behavior for sex and romance. If you’re nice to a woman, she will want to marry you. As long as she’s giving you sex and attention, you will want to marry her. There’s no accounting for compatibility, chemistry or humanity in general, because love is a commodity rather than an emotion. Ergo, if a woman isn’t married by 30 (when she’s had 8-12 years to be nice and give sex and attention to “nice” men like the ones that think this way) it must be because she has a mental problem that prevents her from completing this simple transaction.

  24. The Bimmer Guy*

    I mean, I know it happens a lot, but what kind of company discriminates against someone because she’s engaged? Are they worried that she’ll try and take a whole month of vacation at once or something? Jeez…people have lives.

  25. GrumpyandSleepybutNotDopey*

    is it weird to get pregnant after being at a new job for 10 months to a year?

    1. Kat M2*

      Hello Everyone,

      I am the person who asked this question a few years ago and I know I’m long overdue for an update!

      First, thank you, Alison, for your fantastic advice and thank you to all of the commenters for sharing your perspectives! It gave me much needed sanity during my year long job search. At the time, I was just beginning my career and going through quite a few life changes (clearly). Of course, well meaning relatives gave me a lot of advice, most of it from a good place but either out of date, biased, or both, and I was trying to sift through it all. It did not help that most of the women within my own family hadn’t worked in awhile and at the time, I was sorely in need of good mentors.

      As it turned out, I wore my ring to every interview and ended up getting a job within my field, where I am still working today. No one seemed to notice or care about the ring and, when they brought me on board as a permanent hire, I was able to get time off for my wedding and honeymoon, in addition to a great salary and benefits package, as well as opportunities to grow. I’m very happy that I took your advice!

      Thanks again, everyone!

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