Should You Wear An Engagement Ring To Job Interviews?

Photo: Jeffrey Coolidge/ Getty Images.
In an article published on his LinkedIn profile in mid-August, Bruce Hurwitz, an executive recruiter, offers some unsolicited advice to women on the job hunt: Don’t wear your engagement ring to an interview.

Wait, what?

There are several reasons, he agues, but the most baffling of all is that, supposedly, a diamond ring (especially a big one) indicates that a woman is high-maintenance. Well, supposedly the men in the office will see you that way, whereas the women in the office will see your diamond as a threat to their diamond (if they have one, that is, and if it's smaller than yours, that is) thus reducing their place in the pecking order of workplace hierarchy. Huh?

In a follow-up essay, Hurwitz defends his thinking: Men who are proposing to women are going to buy the smallest possible diamond that will still "ensure" their proposal is accepted. Therefore, wearing a big diamond signals that you wouldn’t agree to marriage unless you got a really expensive rock, which therefore means you must be high-maintenance. Not only that, but Hurwitz argues that the ring is basically collateral; it’s still the proposer's ring until the propose-ee is officially hitched. While I’m no expert, I’m not sure that thinking would hold up in a court of law.

I’ve also never been proposed to, but I do know lots of married and engaged couples. The sense I get from their proposal stories is that it's less about a transaction where a lifetime of fidelity is traded for a piece of flashy jewelry and more about a romantic declaration of love between two people who respect and care for each other. In other words, I don’t know anyone who had to be bribed to walk down the aisle — or who only stayed around for the wedding in order to keep the ring.

Of course, no one should have to apologize for wanting or receiving a large engagement ring. A lot of factors, not just aesthetic preference, might go into the ring choice. Maybe it’s a family heirloom. Or maybe the woman did just want a big ring — so what?

So yes, Hurwitz's advice is super sexist. But we still have to wonder: Do hiring managers notice engagement rings? Hurwitz claims that the half-dozen women he’s counseled not to wear their rings have gotten jobs when they left the bling at home. Of course, that’s far from a scientific study — and we're always a little skeptical of anecdotal evidence. Isn't it just as likely that these women finally landed a job not because they weren't wearing their engagement rings, but because they finally found companies that were the right fit?

Unfortunately, we can easily dismiss Hurwitz's bad advice and bad science, but it's not so easy to overlook the huge problem at the heart of this story: Women are always held to different standards than men. And we can be labeled "high-maintenance" for doing something as seemingly innocuous as wearing an engagement ring. Is Hurwitz's next post going to be advising women not to speak up for themselves in meetings, lest they get labeled "bitchy" or "difficult"?

We have to deal with the reality of these double standards on a daily basis, and it sucks. The deck often feels stacked against women — and minorities, and LGBTQ individuals, and the list goes on — and navigating workplace politics can be a minefield. But can we all agree on one thing? We have a lot to worry about; let’s strike our jewelry from that list.
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