I am applying to a large software firm. There is a question relating to gender in their application form. It asks what gender are you, and the options are "male", "female", "other" and "prefer not to answer". Since I'm male I'm at a disadvantage (as preference is given to women to comply with equal opportunity hiring process) so would it be a good idea to answer "prefer not to answer"? The thing is my gender is easily identified through my name.

Now how does it make sense a question about applying for a job is off topic?


If you're a man, tick the box that says 'male'. No point trying to be clever about it. If they're set on getting a female for the job, you can't change that by ticking a box.

Usually just telling the truth is the best option.

  • 4
    This. Well, the first and last sentences. If you have an obviously male name, it makes no sense at all to duck this question. If you do, you'll make them wonder why you can't fill a form in. – user44108 Nov 2 '16 at 7:13
  • Good thinking. Clear answers are what I value and would like to work with people who feel the same way. But may I ask why all the comments were deleted? Some were very useful. – MrE Nov 21 '16 at 8:06
  • Comments are not meant to be permanent, mods delete anything that they feel is irrelevant etc,. – Kilisi Nov 21 '16 at 9:35

Your premise is flawed. Legally speaking (US), companies are not allowed to take gender into consideration when making hiring decisions. The question is asked for tracking metrics and potentially for finding problems in their hiring process.

Realistically, as a male, you are likely at a distinct advantage for a variety of reasons.

  • 1 - who said anything about the US? 2 - 'preference is given to women to comply with equal opportunity hiring process' is a flawed premise? – BCLC Jul 15 at 0:56

While you are correct in assuming you are more likely to be hired as a woman (http://lmgtfy.com/?q=women+more+likely+to+get+hired+stem), I feel it is unlikely to help you in the long term, as your gender will become apparent before the interview process is over anyway.

Besides that, just because it is statistically more likely to be hired as a woman now (in STEM), does not necessarily mean that workplace subscribes to that ideology. Perhaps they are really just looking for the most qualified candidate!


Would you prefer not to answer the question? Because there's an option for that. I wouldn't expect it to change your results, however.


Not too long ago I was talking with a friend about the viability of joining software development as a woman, because women in tech these days have an easier 'in' due to gender quotas. I argued that if you rely on affirmative action to get hired, you should probably consider other options.

I say the same to you. Those minutes you spend worrying about gaming the system would be better spent reading a tech blog or honing your skills somehow.

If someone requires affirmative action to be considered for a position, they're already on the left side of the skill curve a fair way. By competing with them you effectively place yourself at the same level, so you've already lost the job to everyone on your right side.

Lastly, it's much more likely for a quota policy to inform the hiring phase rather than the initial interview.

  • 1
    In many places you will have an advantage as a software developer if you are female, because changing the percentage of females from 6% to 8% will be good. Or from 0% to 16%. – gnasher729 Nov 2 '16 at 9:38
  • I've wondered whether the opposite is true of men - whether there are "quotas" or at least "easier ins" for men who want to enter traditionally female-dominated fields like elementary school teaching or nursing. It's unclear and I've heard anecdotes from both sides. – Robert Columbia Nov 2 '16 at 16:09
  • 2
    @RobertColumbia There seems to be a bit of a stigma these days if you wanna be an elementary teacher as a man - something to do with being seen as a pedophile. I've heard of programs trying to push more men into nursing in countries like the UK, Sweden and Norway - but that's anecdotal. edit Funnily enough, early education is the one field where teacher gender balance for its own sake is a good thing IMO. – rath Nov 2 '16 at 16:40
  • @rath yes, that is one of the things I've heard, namely that men who want to enter teaching are often not trusted. That does, however, seem like a textbook reason to bring out "Affirmative Action" to counteract that prejudice. – Robert Columbia Nov 2 '16 at 16:41

Since I'm male I'm at a disadvantage (as preference is given to women to comply with equal opportunity hiring process) so would it be a good idea to answer "prefer not to answer"?

A bit contradictory, but ok. If the company were to truly comply to equal opportunity in the hiring process, that would mean if you're more qualified for the job, they should hire you. Same goes that if anyone else is more qualified than you, they should hire that person; regardless of gender (and race etc.).

So would it be a good idea to answer with "prefer not to answer"? No, simply state you are male.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .