Female Facebook chief says employers should be allowed to ask women about plans for babies
Chief Operating Officer of Facebook, Sheryl Sandberg, has said that companies should be able to ask their employees about whether they hope to have children.
The 43-year-old mother-of-two called for a much more open dialogue about gender, saying that women are held back at work by stereotypes, which firms are unwilling to talk about. She said employees faced both open and covert discrimination, as well as a lack of flexibility, reports the Daily Mail.
Sandberg said this while speaking to business leaders at the World Economic Forum's annual meeting in Davos, Switzerland, at a session on how boost women's role in economic decision making.
U.S. law essentially prohibits employers from asking female job applicants if they are planning to have children in the future.
Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which makes it illegal to discriminate in employment on the bases of race, color, sex, national origin, and religion, was amended in 1978 to include the Pregnancy Discrimination Act, which prohibits an employer from refusing to hire a pregnant woman because of her pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical condition.
Under UK law, recruiters may not ask female job candidates whether they have children or are planning to have any. However anecdotally, it is thought that many avoid women of child-bearing age and advise women who are not planning to have children or who have had a family already to make this clear at interview to increase their chances of getting a job offer.
Sandberg also attacked gender stereotypes, highlighting T-shirts currently sold in the US, where a boys' version bears the words 'Smart Like Daddy', while the girls' version says 'Pretty like Mummy'. She said the attitudes enshrined in those slogans led to the paradox that as a woman becomes more successful, she becomes less popular, whereas when a man becomes more successful, he becomes more popular.
Sandberg's book Lean In, which encourages women to get further in the workplace, is due out in March.