A woman went viral after revealing on the popular Reddit forum “Am I The A** hole” that she honestly answered about her company’s diversity during the hiring event, saying that she felt the icon as a woman.
The anonymous woman who just goes by u/tokengirlengineer went into detail about her status in a post that garnered more than 13,800 upvotes and 1,300 comments in less than 20 hours, with multiple users calling for the company to mark her as one of two female employees.
Symbolism is defined as hiring someone who belongs to a minority group in order to show that the company is diversified and that employees are treated fairly.
Consuela Knox, director of admissions operations and director of diversity recruitment at the Owen Graduate School of Management, spoke about the icons on a panel at Vanderbilt University.
She stated that many companies claim to want to diversify their pool of applicants but only have one candidate from a particular minority group.
“You could be in an organization where there are very few people like you. And in one aspect, you might have been set as an icon,” she said. “On the other hand, it could be a company that is really, really, really interested in diversification but their efforts haven’t been fruitful…the intention was good, but they didn’t get things in order.”
In the post titled “AITA To Say At A Recruitment Event, Am I Deceiving As A ‘Girl Token Engineer’ For Every Recruitment Event?” The woman explained that she is one of two employees in a technical role at her tech company.
She explained that her co-worker is “very introverted” and wouldn’t do well at recruiting people for the company, so anytime there’s an event she’s asked to attend. She said it’s mainly frustrating for her because spending the day at a recruiting event puts her entire team behind.
The post explained, “I was at a recruiting event at a local college, and I asked a young woman who was considering applying about how diverse my company is.” “It looked good from our billboard and promotional materials. (Side note…nearly every person of color, woman, or geek on promotional materials either quit or didn’t work there in the first place)”
The woman said she was in front of a small group and answered honestly, saying that there are only two women in artistic roles and that as one of them, she sometimes feels like she has two jobs: an engineer and a “symbolic girl engineer.”
She explained that she is pulled out of the business for every photo opportunity and recruiting event.
“Honestly, if you love being a lead and are willing to take on extra unspoken PR as the ‘Girl Engineer,’ you might find a fulfilling role here,” she told the group. “But if you’d rather keep your head down to focus on the technical side, it’s easier to do it in a company where there’s more gender and racial diversity.”
The woman wrote that the other woman appreciated her honest answer but her manager told her to leave the event. She also said she now has a meeting with HR and her manager.
In the post, she made it clear that she didn’t think her opinion would be new to either of them because she had already informed them that she wasn’t interested in being part of more photo opportunities. She also said that she told them she didn’t want help with recruitment just because of her gender.
“I was told it was important to me to be there to help recruit more diverse employees as the company is trying to improve,” the post explained. “I feel like they are angry because I said the quiet part out loud at the enlistment event… but it was an honest answer to the question, and I still talk about these things for my ‘unique point of view’ etc.”
The woman wrote that she thought the company might have seen what they were doing as a good thing and that they might see it as trying to sabotage their attempt to diversify the pool of applicants.
“AITA, why did you say about my job?” I asked at the end of the post.
Several users sided with the woman saying it was not acceptable for her company to code her because she was one of two female employees. Others even recommended finding out if she had a strong discrimination case since she was chosen because of her gender.
One user commented, “They don’t want variety, and they will never have it, because they don’t set up anything like the right space for it.” “What they want is a check mark. Good at the OP for speaking honestly and spare that woman the pain of this place!”
“What are they going to do? Risking gender discrimination by punishing you for this?” Another user request. “I would have gone to this meeting with a lawyer on quick contact if I were you.”
Another comment read, “NTA, you’re 100% right on this code. It would have been better not to say that in front of the manager but better to be honest with the applicants.”
The user went on to explain that there was a photo of them from a project they had barely worked on and their university is still using it for marketing materials nearly a decade later.
The user continued, “I hate it. I felt it detracted from all my actual accomplishments when I was in school.”
One way the company combats the token is by making sure that certain employees are not called in to be representatives of the company’s diversity efforts. It is important that the individual is not required to represent his entire group for the organization.
NEWSWEEK I contacted u/tokengirlengineer but did not receive a response in time to post.