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Help wanted

2 October 2009


I’m not job hunting (although I am looking for a second hand refrigerator), but I happened to take a glance at the classifieds in today’s local newspaper. One thing to notice is that employers expect you to show up in person, not send a resume.  The company looking for English teachers wants a resume… with the candidate.

Mexicans in general, although much more polite than English speakers and even other Latin Americans, are sometimes brutally blunt.  Though both age and gender discrimination are technically illegal, employers have no compunction about spelling out their prejudices and assumptions to potential job seekers.  Job solicitations specifying  gender or age requirements … or both… are common.

Traditional sex roles in the workplace still exist, as in the last two ads (both for tourism industry workers).  Receptionists and room cleaners are still considered “women’s work”. While neither specify age, I can guarantee you that the 50-year-old has a better shot at the cleaning job than the receptionist’s one.

I suppose one could make an argument that a person over 35 is just too decrepit to work as a pollster, but that is probably not the rationale the employer in the first ad (“Ideas Frescas”) has in mind.  If there is a rationale.  It could be the company wants a youthful image, and with a national health care system, it’s not like the employer is worried much about higher insurance premiums for older workers (if 36 is old), but more likely, the employer doesn’t want to hire people he has to respect as his or her elders or is him/herself older, and expects respect beyond that of just a normal boss.

But, the tailor shop (or, perhaps, seamstress) assistant’s ad is a new one on me.  Er, a new two on me.

I have seen ads for “secretaries” that use the code “must be open minded”… run by some perv looking for a bimbo who will put up with sexist pigs… and it crossed my mind that the person running the ad has some less mainstream kinks… but given that there are also some minimal (very minimal… junior high graduate) educational requirements, it probably is just for an assistant in a tailor shop.

I donno… it could be that there’s a certain amount of stereotyping going on… gay guys are supposed to be better at fashion, or maybe the assistant has to deal with girls being fitted for their quinceaneras, and their mom’s are less likely to object to a young man if they know he’s more interested in their escorts than in their precious daughters; or perhaps this shop specializes in drag queens (this is a seaport and a Navy town, not just a hangout for aging touristas); … or maybe it’s just affirmative action for working class gay kids.

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