Following publication of a controversial health questionnaire by NUIG, The National Women’s Council of Ireland has expressed doubts about the college’s message on gender bias. The questionnaire was designed for prospective female job applicants, and included several intrusive questions regarding their breasts and menstrual cycles.
Consisting of forty questions, the questionnaire included enquiries such as, “Do you suffer with any problems with your menstrual periods? Do you suffer any breast problems? Have you ever been treated for gynaecological problems?” According to the questionnaire, such questions were necessary to determine if the employee was “fit for the job” and determine the likelihood of “regular attendance.
The poll was predictably met with opposition from many. A senior lecturer from NUIG found the questions “invasive” and “borderline misogynistic.” DCU SU welfare candidate and member of the National Women’s council, Gillian McInerny also found the questionnaire unacceptable.
“I think it is extremely inappropriate to question anybody about such personal issues. If a medical is required for a position then it should have been conducted by doctors, privately and for all candidates” stated McInerney. McInerny’s insights echo that of many, especially the council who believe the questionnaire ultimately “points to a gender bias.”
Membership development officer, Eilis Ni Chaithnia is deeply concerned of what this questionnaire means for women in the workplace. The form “needs to be considered in the context of what is already an ongoing campaign to highlight the absence of women in senior positions in NUIG” she argued.
Although the university provided initial justification for the content, they have now suspended use of the form. NUIG plan to reconsider their pre-screening process for applicants, ensuring “it follows best practice in the area.” It is hoped that review and reform will eliminate gender discrimination of the process for future applicants.