Anyone else sick of getting "how old are you?" and "are you married" in professional settings?

teresaman's profile thumbnail
When I was around 22-23, I got that a lot in my consulting role. I started wearing a ring (but on the "wrong" hand so it's not a total lie) so people would assume that I'm married and stop asking me about my age/marital status or judge me based on my perceived age (I look quite young). Then lo and behold at one client dinner, I had a client ask me about my marriage details. It was definitely annoying and I can't believe I went to the extent of somewhat-pretending like I am married to avoid all of the questions, when really I should have told them off. ๐Ÿคฆโ€โ™€๏ธ
TrinityWiles's profile thumbnail
Honestly, a fake wedding ring is genius!
maggiewolff's profile thumbnail
I take off my rings for job interviews because I don't want hiring managers to assume that at some point I'll get pregnant and have that factor into why they shouldn't hire me.
abbyrose's profile thumbnail
This is brilliant, but also makes me sick to my stomach that you feel like you have to do this...
TrinityWiles's profile thumbnail
Hi Maggie. I am doing a segment on a Linkedin video bringing light to some of the challenges we have as women and how to respond to them during this National Women's Month. I would love to use this quote summarized. I will keep you anonymous and only use your first name. Let me know if I have permission to do this :) thanks for your input on my thread.
maggiewolff's profile thumbnail
Sure, that's fine with me.
clarachan43's profile thumbnail
I actually would take off my engagement ring because people started asking me questions about my relationship, my wedding, how I met my fiancee, why I got engaged so young etc. Even during interviews! And a lot of times it took time/attention away from more important things like my work experiences during the interview.
teresaman's profile thumbnail
Ugh - people need to stop prying (ring or not)! I truly wonder if men get these questions.
TrinityWiles's profile thumbnail
That's what I am wondering too! I've never asked a man in a professional setting about marriage/kids/age etc.
TrinityWiles's profile thumbnail
Interesting! That's my problem with it too. It takes away from the important things. How is it relevant anyway? If I wanted to open up and talk about it then I would is how I feel about it. No one should be asking that. Especially in an interview!!
TrinityWiles's profile thumbnail
Hi Clara. I am doing a segment on a Linkedin video bringing light to some of the challenges we have as women and how to respond to them during this National Women's Month. I would love to use this quote summarized. I will keep you anonymous and only use your first name. Let me know if I have permission to do this :) thanks for your input on my thread.
clarachan43's profile thumbnail
Ofcourse! As long as itโ€™s summarized and anonymized, feel free!! Please also share the video, Iโ€™d love to watch it!!
TrinityWiles's profile thumbnail
Hi Teresa. I am doing a segment on a Linkedin video bringing light to some of the challenges we have as women and how to respond to them during this National Women's Month. I would love to use this quote summarized. I will keep you anonymous and only use your first name. Let me know if I have permission to do this :) thanks for your input on my thread.
SamanthaChai's profile thumbnail
You deserve to vent! It's so belittling, sexist, and annoying that they just assume that you want to get married or that you're already married ๐Ÿ™„
TrinityWiles's profile thumbnail
Does this happen to you too??
SamanthaChai's profile thumbnail
Not the married part (because I'm a student), but definitely "how old are you?" and the response I get is "I was doing nothing at your age when i was in college" or some other personal detail about their life that I don't really care about. They would never ask these questions to a male peer in the same place as me, which is why it's so annoying.
cathygao's profile thumbnail
I've been asked a few times. The response I gave was "does it matter?" I'm not sure if it impacted any perception of me at the workplace but I didn't get any more questions after that.
TrinityWiles's profile thumbnail
That is a good response. I always get it from people outside of the organization.
I get a lot of other women commenting on when I have kids or Iโ€™ll know what x is like when Iโ€™m pregnant. Iโ€™m almost 30 with no child plans in sight and itโ€™s very awkward out of the blue and feels like a comment on my maturity or age since โ€œobviouslyโ€ thatโ€™s a milestone I havenโ€™t achieved yet. Iโ€™m the youngest department director and maybe other women feel weird about it or itโ€™s actually coming from a good place. Anyway, that sucks and Iโ€™m sorry. Keep crushing it and donโ€™t let other peopleโ€™s insecurities get in your way.
TrinityWiles's profile thumbnail
That's interesting to hear the other side of that. From OTHER women. I like to think people don't have bad intentions with their assumptions but it does come off rude sometimes. You keep crushing it too!
TrinityWiles's profile thumbnail
Hi Lliana. I am doing a segment on a Linkedin video bringing light to some of the challenges we have as women and how to respond to them during this National Women's Month. I would love to use this quote summarized. I will keep you anonymous and only use your first name. Let me know if I have permission to do this :) thanks for your input on my thread.
emilytsitrian's profile thumbnail
Super inappropriate, in my opinion. Gross! I'm so sorry you're dealing with this.MLK was 26 when he came into his fameGeorgia O'Keefe hit her stride in her later yearsAge is just a number! Live your own life.
lita81gr's profile thumbnail
Wow, thatโ€™s interesting. Iโ€™ve been in IT and engineering for 16 years and never encountered that. And any time Iโ€™ve asked anyone their age it wasnโ€™t until we were friends and hanging out outside of work.
How do you respond?may I suggestI am X ( made up number) How about you? followed byYou must have so many interesting experiences๐Ÿ˜‚
RSadwick's profile thumbnail
I do think that this question is exclusively discriminatory (when it comes early after meeting someone), and layers age bias on top of gender bias.I came up with a response line that's been well-received, but I (sadly) think that the tone it's delivered in makes all the difference.When people ask me how old I am, I laugh and say something like, "Old enough to know that I don't know everything, and young enough to want to change that."If they ask the related question of what year I graduated from undergrad or biz school, I reply, "Oh, do you know someone who went there, too?" (Hear their response, and then continue the conversation from there.)I do hear the embedded bias in this emphasis on my tone, and know the double standard it entails. But sadly, each one of us is impacted by bias, and it's all we can do to keep shattering that glass ceiling.I have dozens of stories of this from both men and women, and don't think it's inherently any less discriminatory coming from either.When I was interviewing for a Board Director role, I was confused as to why the female Board Chair spent so much time asking about my husband (where he went to school, what he'd studied, what he did for work, how long we'd been married, how we met, his hobbies [including whether he skiied or golfed], etc.)I wondered if this was a common "get to know you" experience, so I asked my husband (who wears a wedding ring) how often people ask him about me. He looked at me confused and said, "No one's ever even asked me if I'm married. If they do, it's only after I brought you up."The experiences I have with age discrimination range from condescending to lewd (like the consulting prospect who told me that when he was my age, his only goal was to f%$* 28 different women in 28 different places, and he wouldn't have taken the meeting with me if he'd known my age), to the more benign, "My son is your age. He still lives in my basement and smokes weed every day."I wish I could say that it goes away, but sadly, I think that window is non-existent for women.We're too young to know what we're doing, until we're too distracted by family obligations (or lack thereof) to be focused, until we're too old to be nimble/relevant. All we can do is take it one step at a time, and appreciate what the women who came before us have done to get us where we are today, while trying to make it better for the ones who come after us.
catherinewinckler's profile thumbnail
So gratified to hear that those of you in your 20s are just not answering that question. It is insulting in the early stages of your career, but when you get to later stages of your work life (post 40s) that question can literally stop you from getting VC funding ... or a new job... as ageism is a very real 'ism.' ie I am being interviewed for an article in a national magazine and one of the first three questions I was asked was 'How old are you... boy you've done a lot over the years.' I know 30 year olds who have done twice what I've done in half the time.... my age is really secondary and I don't mind them mentioning it but it is not the lead. Anyway, this is a great question to consider. What about all the contests for '30 Under 30' .... or '50 over 50?' What about business groups that end when you hit 50? It's a great vent Trinity and it opens up such a good discussion. Didn't even get to the 'married' part. :)
TrinityWiles's profile thumbnail
Hi Catherine. I am doing a segment on a Linkedin video bringing light to some of the challenges we have as women and how to respond to them during this National Women's Month. I would love to use this quote summarized. I will keep you anonymous and only use your first name. Let me know if I have permission to do this :) thanks for your input on my thread.
catherinewinckler's profile thumbnail
Please feel free to use whatever helps us all, Trinity. I am OK to be Catherine W... I am OK to be referred to as a Healthcare entrepreneur or whatever else you need.
KarenSD's profile thumbnail
This 'ism' is very real and called gendered ageism. I did my MA research on it. And it sucks...
br's profile thumbnail
I'm sorry to hear that you're experiencing this...over and over.Have you tried throwing it back at them with: "Interesting question! Can you tell me more about why you're asking?" or something like that. Sounds like you're interacting with a number of folks who are struggling with their own self-awareness in a professional context. Hopefully with throwing it back, they'll stumble and realize the inappropriate nature of their question (and stop asking it, ever).TL;DR: you don't "owe" anyone an answer to that question in this context!
leenab's profile thumbnail
Hi Trinity, One of the things I'm learning to do over the last several years (and have gotten better at it), is be comfortable saying no to questions which I don't want to answer, tactfully and without getting into power struggles. And I've gotten this particular question a lot in recent years!So I say calmly and in a neutral tone, "I'm not comfortable discussing my age." Period. No explanations, no defensiveness, no nothing. There is an awkward silence where the person who is asking me this is struggling - and you see the entire gamut of emotions on their face - their surprise, their defensiveness, their wanting to crack some joke to fill the silence etc. Regarding the being married question - you should unfortunately know that your lack of giving a direct answer there will automatically signal you are not married. I have never seen anyone who is married try to evade this sort of a question (and we're not talking about playboys here who will hide the fact for sure). But saying something along the lines of "I like to stick to questions pertaining to this meeting" (or something along those lines) in client meetings can probably nip those nasty, prying questions in the bud.Hope that helps!
CeciliaCulverhouse's profile thumbnail
Trinity,That sounds frustrating and challenging. I remember experiencing those types of questions in my 20s and recall feeling a similar exasperation. Once you enter your 40s, and if you choose to have children, you will have the pleasure of being reminded by colleagues and mainstream media that you are viewed as culturally irrelevant and having professionalism continue to be ignored. I've been told by colleagues in their 20s, "We missed each other by like 30 years." And "You could be my mom." And, by a cis-hetero male colleague around my age: "My wife doesn't buy that brand of purse. Why do you wear that type of bag?" So, unawareness and comments by other people continue irrespective of your age. And with it, the choice of how to make meaning of the comments and respond.
abbyrose's profile thumbnail
I get the age question all the time (I'm 24). After several years of saying things along the lines of "I don't feel comfortable answering that question," and experiencing the corresponding awkward silences that followed, I started taking a different approach. I now give an answer that is obviously incorrect (like "47" or "52") and say it in a joking tone with a smile. This lets people know that I think the question is inappropriate and don't feel comfortable answering, without directly calling them out on it (people may not always know this is offensive also-- I try to give them the benefit of the doubt). I generally get a laugh, have never had anyone respond badly, and rarely get any more prying questions after. When I'm in my 40s and 50s, I plan to start saying I'm 24! :)Anecdotally, I definitely feel like I observe women being asked this far more frequently than men, and answering a lot more uncomfortably when they are asked.
Rochelle's profile thumbnail
Reverse ageism is quite prevalent and not talked about as much. Even ten years in, I recall being asked by new hires if I was an intern. Sometimes these biases are subconscious. Stay focused and work smart.. once they observe you nail your work, they will forget about age.
amandabn1's profile thumbnail
I've been asked about my age, marital status and whether I have kids for 30 years already. It took me to be over 40 to be taken seriously. I've been with my fella for over 20 years - happily unmarried, yet some people just don't get why we didn't tie the knot. We have no kids - but when I'm asked I reply saying, yes I have 2 - a 7 and 11 year old. They are called Porsche and Mazda MX5! Sometimes, give people the unexpected answer. It might just get them thinking about what they are asking and it also gets you to change the subject very easily. Sadly, this area has a long way to go.
abbyrose's profile thumbnail
I love that answer! :)
KarenSD's profile thumbnail
When I was 21 years old, I was asked that question in an interview. I replied with 'old enough to know that you're not allowed to ask that question.' Needless to say, I didn't get a job offer from them (as if I'd have taken it anyway...). I want to encourage you to not go along/laugh along to get along. A response along the lines of 'old enough to know that that's not a very appropriate question,' nips that bullshit in the bud. You could also take the approach of the why response, e.g. 'why do you ask?' Basically, it makes them show themselves for the assholes that they are. Your job is not to be make everyone else comfortable about their inappropriate behaviour, and only by not going along do we help to identify how problematic it is.
I think the tone and intent of the question matters a lot. I also err on the side of positive intent. Whenever I was / am asked that question I wear it as a badge of honor that Iโ€™ve been able to accomplish as much as I have in a shorter period of time than the norm.
sallyd's profile thumbnail
It depends on the circumstances, but I have in the past used 'what an inappropriate/rude question!' and moved on. It identifies the question as off, then moving onto another topic quickly also signals that, I'm not about to be affected by this, the view is better from the high road.I am quite a bit older than you and it happens less of course as time goes on, but I feel a responsibility if I hear anyone else be questioned like that, and have jumped in to call it out. I've been in their shoes and I hate that women are still made to feel awkward with these questions. I think it has got a bit better, here in UK anyway most people would find it inappropriate if they heard someone ask these questions. Who knows though, maybe it's just I'm older or my current workplace is less backward.
heathersterman's profile thumbnail
Honestly, no one believes me when I tell them how old I am (I turned 40 in May). They think I'm in my 20's (which I will gladly take!).