Graduation 2013: How to Navigate the Feminist Job Market

With college graduation season right around the corner, many soon-to-be grads are still hunting for that perfect job. For an undergraduate looking for a feminist friendly work environment, this may be an even trickier search.

Not every student who majors in women’s or gender studies will land their dream job at an explicitly feminist organization like Planned Parenthood, the Girl Scouts, or RAINN upon graduation. And, many feminist undergrads have diverse academic and professional interests that will lead them into fields and professions that are not explicitly feminist related, but they are still looking for an inclusive and feminist-friendly work environment.

To help in your search for a feminist-friendly work environment, here are a few tips:

Go to the company or nonprofit’s website first! If you find the job posting on a website like Idealist or Monster.com you might think the position is the perfect fit for you based on its description. But, it’s always important to look through the company or organization’s website with a few things in mind:

(1) Look at the staff page to see who else works there! Is there an equal or near-equal ratio of women to men on staff? Is the staff racially diverse? A company or organization that values diversity amongst their employees is more likely to embrace feminists and the unique perspectives they bring to the table.

(2) See how many women are in leadership roles at the company or organization. Do women primarily hold lower or middle management positions? Or do an equal or near equal number of women and men hold executive positions? Are there women on the board of company or nonprofit? If so, how many? The same goes for racial diversity. Do women and men of color hold executive level and board positions?

(3) Read staff bios if they are available! Learn what you potential future co-workers value based on their work experience and any extracurricular activities they list in their bios. See if they worked for a feminist organization before taking this job. Or, they may volunteer with or sit on the board of a women’s rights organization. If current employees have these kinds of credentials listed and they have worked for the company for a few years it is a good sign that your coworkers and the company at large will embrace and share your feminist values. 

Do your research! Google is a wonderful tool that can provide you with more insight into the organization than the company’s or nonprofit’s website alone. A few things to look for:

(1)  Average pay for the position you’re applying for. During your interview, you will most likely be asked what sort of pay you’re hoping to receive. Don’t undersell yourself because you’re worried you won’t get the job if you aim too high. Websites like Glassdoor.com provide average salary ranges for different positions at almost all companies and many nonprofit organizations. Having this knowledge in hand before you go in for an interview is important so you don’t undersell yourself and accidentally contribute to the seventy-seven cents to every dollar earned by women and men respectively.  

(2) Search for phrases like “Best companies for women” in Google. Forbes, CNN, and other news sources often publish annual reports on the best for-profit companies for women’s advancement, maternity leave, and work-life balance. While these lists may not be 100% accurate and typically only include large national corporations, you may want to rethink working for a national company that ranks low on or doesn’t make the list.

(3) Use LinkedIn or Facebook to see if any female alumni from your soon-to-be alma mater currently work for or were previously employed by the company or nonprofit. Shoot them an email or a Facebook message to ask for their honest opinion of the organization or company’s culture. Ask if they believe that women’s opinions and ideas are respected and implemented? Are the accomplishments of women and men equally acknowledged? Or, is there an old boy’s club culture at the company?

If you are offered an interview be sure to ask the right questions! The interview is not a one-way conversation. Most interviewers will give you an opportunity to ask questions about the company or organization’s work culture, benefits, health insurance, and the like. A few topics to cover when your turn to ask questions comes up:

(1) Health insurance: Ask for a copy of the company’s health insurance plan and read through it before you accept a job offer. Doing so will tell you if the company’s health insurance covers birth control, STI and HIV/AIDS testing, abortion, and maternal health care.

(2) Maternity leave: You might not be thinking about having kids now — or ever — but if you are looking for a job at a company you can grow with, it’s important to know sooner rather than later what the policy is on maternity leave. How long is the company’s maternity leave? Is it paid or unpaid? Does the company also offer paternity leave options?

There are many things to consider when applying for your first post-grad job. Not every job is going to be the perfect fit for everyone, but it’s important to have as many facts about a potential employer as possible before signing on the dotted line — especially if you are looking for a job with a company or a nonprofit that shares your feminist values. 

How much do you trust the information in this article?

Tracey Vitchers

Tracey is a feminist blogger for PolicyMic.com. Previously, Tracey wrote for The Huffington Post and Feministing's Community Blog. Her articles have been featured in Potentia Magazine, Feministing's Daily Feminist Cheat Sheet, and the Women's Campaign Fund newsletter. She has been quoted by MSNBC for her work with Students Active For Ending Rape (SAFER) and was featured on The Sean Hannity Show for her coverage of the Occupy Movement in September 2011. Tracey holds a Bachelor of the Arts in Women's Studies and English from Williams College and a Masters of the Arts in Comparative Women's Studies from Utrecht University. She has worked with numerous nonprofit organizations in project management, business development, communications, and public relations capacities. In her free time Tracey enjoys hiking with her dog, assembling Ikea furniture, and drinking coffee. Tracey works in New York City, but lives in the woods of Pennsylvania.

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