The last Frontier of Discrimination… that is so Unfair =(

Posted: May 23, 2015 in Uncategorized

Be unfair to a woman that’s sexist, discriminate against someone of another colour and that’s racist, put people with Autism at a disadvantage… that is acceptable. Let’s be honest no one can discriminate against someone based on sexuality, gender, race, age or religion and still consider themselves a good person. Nevertheless, if two straight white males interview for a job the one who is more charismatic and likeable is going to get the job. Of course likeability in a job interview is based on picking up on non-verbal cues, as well as a bunch of other factors such as how you dress and present yourself, but you really wouldn’t be able to pick up on that if you aren’t reading what the people around you are telling you with their body language, and sending back the right ones yourself. An employer simply has to say that the, person without Autism has better “people skills” or “soft skills”.  People skills are something that a person can work on and improve dramatically. What people don’t tell you, however, is that no matter how much you improve or work your ass off at it, the people skills of a Neurotypical person are generally going to be a 100 times better even if they never make an effort. Just the way our brains are wired.  After all why wouldn’t you hire the person who is going to fit better in the work environment and you can see yourself being friends with. At least that is the way that the interviewer must see it.

Here is what is wrong with that. One could argue that, that life is unfair and there is no discrimination involved because they are unaware that one of the candidates is on the Autism spectrum, even if they were aware the other candidate is just better for the job. This is not always the case, however. If the job is sales or working in a tiny cramped room with someone else than of course take the person who is better able to make a first impression, however, the job being interviewed may have nothing to do with first impressions or even face-to-face interaction where body language comes into play.  Working in a library, archives or even as part of an auto mechanic team making great first impression shouldn’t be as important as other skills. People with Autism are loyal, hard-working, dedicated and honest to a point where you may have to ask them to keep their opinions to themselves. That honesty, however, can save a project that was doomed for failure if no one spoke up but had been more worried with currying favor with the superior.  I would much rather have a heart surgeon who was competent, hard-working and knowledgeable in their field which are characteristics people on the spectrum have in abundance,  but comes off awkward when I first meet him. Other jobs like telemarketing don’t require being able to read body language as all the work takes place over the phone and they may have little interaction with their co-workers.  Yet, in all of these jobs no one has taken out the bias towards people who are charismatic and make great first impressions but may turn out to be dishonest and lazy. Therefore, once again the person with Autism is going to go home without the job.

Though, there is really nothing you can do about this anymore than you can pass rules about who someone needs to be friends with or date. That is one of the really annoying parts is that there is no one to blame as the bias is deeply buried in the interview system. If a woman gets discriminated against when it comes to getting a job, she can tell everyone and they can agree that the guilty party is a misogynistic pig. People will actually join her in their hatred of that person and they will share her story with other people. There may even be an inquiry into the situation.  If someone with Autism gets passed up for a job, while what are we really going to do?

As a stand-up comedian it can be quite detrimental to my career. Let’s say I do as well as anyone else, which is very subjective and I am firmly on team Schwartz here, when it comes to open mics which is like the never-ending audition for who the more successful comedians take with them on the road when they get a paying gig. The thing is that I am still unlikely to get picked and given the opportunity, because the comedian who got the gig in the first place is likely to want to take someone that they feel like they really connect with, again with the nonverbal cues and reciprocity, as they are going to have to spend at least four hours in the car with them. It is not like there is any kind of appeal process it simply is what it is. It is not like I can even get upset with who gets the opportunities because they totally deserve them as they also work hard, spending the time writing and coming out to open mics and are very talented. I want the best for them as they are my friends. That is probably the most frustrating part because you really want an outside party to rally against and say all kinds of nasty things about, because it’s unfair, but what can you really say it’s nobody’s fault.

This discreet discrimination also impacts our social life. For example, if a group of co-workers are getting together after work for a pint if everyone is invited except for Tom, because he’s gay that’s homophobic. If everyone is getting together but they don’t invite the guy with Autism, while that’s fine he probably wouldn’t have had that nice of a time anyway because he wouldn’t have anyone to talk to so it’s for the best.  This is an experience that is common for many people on the Autism spectrum. Therefore, levelling the playing field for people Autism because we lack “soft skills” is going to be much harder struggle than it is for most other groups.

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