The 5 Worst Excuses We’ve Heard for Not Hiring Women


HR Insights for ProfessionalsThe latest thought leadership for HR pros

Wednesday, February 27, 2019

We all like to believe that the business world has embraced gender equality, but unfortunately there are still some pathetic excuses for not embracing female talent.

Article 4 Minutes
The 5 Worst Excuses We’ve Heard for Not Hiring Wom

Gender equality seems to be the one issue that isn't going away. Many of us like to believe sexism is something that only plagued the workplaces of yesteryear, but unfortunately it still exists.

Don't believe us? Well, in 2016 just 57% of the world's working-age women were in employment, compared to 70% of their male counterparts. And even the females who were in work were struggling to catch up with the men. Women with full-time jobs still earn only about 77% of their male counterparts' earnings.

Of course, the issue is complex and many expect that because most countries have made it illegal to pay women less than men, that gender inequality has fixed itself. However, problems surrounding unconscious bias, parental leave, and outdated stereotypes about gender roles persist in the workplace.

But what are the worst excuses for not hiring women?

1. "Women just don't have the skills that we need."

While it's true that some industries like STEM have a pitifully low number of women, research suggests that this is more to do with engagement than a lack of willing or expertise. Figures show that the gender pay gap starts as soon as people graduate and experts believe inequality in the workplace is much more to do with gender bias in recruitment than anything else. One study showed that plenty of qualified female applicants were applying for tech jobs but they simply weren't being called to interview.

As much as companies profess that they simply want the "best person for the job", it's been proven that not only is this hard to quantify, but privy to a biased selection process.

2. "Women don't want the hassle of career progression."

There's long been a myth that women just don't apply for promotions because their priorities are elsewhere. While there are studies to suggest that female employees will only apply for a role when they have 100% of the skills, compared to men who will do the same with as little as 60% of the necessary requirements, women do apply for promotions. 

The real problem lies with an imbalanced development process, which exacerbates gender and age stereotypes. Making changes, such as reviewing your process, can make massive differences to gender imbalance.

3. "Women will only leave to start a family so what's the point?"

Figures indicate that a third of Managers won't hire young women because they're more likely to leave their role to start a family. Although it's illegal in many countries to ask a female applicant about her plans to start a family or discriminate against someone because of their gender, it's clear that these prejudices are influencing hiring decisions.

Shared parental leave can go some way to addressing this problem, but the fact that males are generally paid more means for most households, it still makes financial sense for the woman to look after the family. This comes despite men and women both stating that being a parent is a key part of their identity.

4. "It's not my fault women don't fit into the board environment."

Everyone loses by not having a balanced labor market. Research estimated that if women had the same lifetime earnings as men, global wealth would increase by $23,620 per person, on average, amounting to some $160 trillion globally.

This means if women don't fit into your board environment, it's the job of businesses to resolve this, instead of expecting female employees to alter their personalities to assimilate into a male-dominated environment.

5. "Men just make better leaders."

We've saved the best for last. There's a wealth of evidence to suggest that companies with more women at a managerial level are more profitable and this trend seems to continue as female employees rise up the ranks. The Peterson Institute for International Economics found that having women at the C-Suite level significantly increases net margins.

A report from Credit Suisse revealed that companies with at least one woman on their board earned better ROI compared to those with all-male boardrooms. So it appears that men don't make better leaders.

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Join the conversation...

27/11/2019 priya gupta
one excuse from my side "Because you are at the age of 25-27, after getting this job you'll get married and quit this job. you are not valuable or long-term asset for our company"
11/06/2022 Saul Goodman
Most sorry to be frank but this is also the worst possible article on the subject. rnCurrently everybody in a certain management level can see that there are woman employed in top positions which would have absolutely no chance to get the job, even if you are in a position to look closer, women are employed just because of gender - companies even take the risk to ignore job advert requirements. If this continues like that you will have in a short time a huge group of men fighting against this discrimination.
15/02/2023 Dee
Risk of sexual harassment claims. Lack of physical strength. Putting family first