When Lyndsay Kirkham went to lunch with her family, she hardly expected to be seated next to the embodiment of “Mad Men” style patriarchy. The Toronto editor and coder overheard the conversation of IBM executives discussing why IBM will not hire women. And yes, of course, they had completely legitimate reasons.
The conversation, as live-tweeted by Kirkham, highlights a disturbing mindset among company leadership. And it is a mindset one would have hoped we had outgrown by now.
Sure that the men must be drunk, based on their comfortable sexism, Kirkham scanned the table for alcohol and found none. She told the Daily Dot that the men went on to list off “a number of women who are currently employed at IBM, all of whom apparently have kids, and listed the amount of time the women are expected to take off in the next few years for anticipated pregnancy.
Not only is that incredibly creepy and weird, but it is reminiscent of the joke from Parks and Recreation‘s first female member of city council. She recounts that, back in the 1970’s, “all the other councilmen used to keep a calendar of my menstrual cycle…I once tried to start a commission to try to get more jobs for women in city government, and they dismissed me, saying that it was because it was just my time of the month. Admittedly, they were right. Because of the calendar.”
When executives at a major company are reminding us of jokes about 1970’s sexism, we still need feminism. In the meantime, we wait with baited breath for IBM’s damage control.