When it comes to inequality in the workplace, the problem doesn’t start and end with the gender pay gap. Before women even get their foot far enough in the door to attempt to negotiate their salary, they have to get through the hiring process and all the implicit and explicit gendered biases that come with it. Whether recruiters are aware of what they’re doing or not, studies show that women have a harder time in the hiring process because of gendered biases and assumptions that effect how a candidate’s choice of words, dress, or actions are perceived.
Though it’s great that there are studies looking into the sometimes sexist nature of hiring practices, they usually aren’t engaging or concise enough to hit home just how striking these biases can be. We can’t tackle our unconscious biases effectively until we’re made conscious of them. Reading about the existence of these biases makes us aware of them, sure, but seeing how they manifest themselves in an actual hiring situation would be more effective at helping us change them. Two Interviewees is a game that’s trying to do just that.
Created by indie developer Mauro Vanetti in one day for a narrative game design course, Two Interviewees is a narrative mini game that aims to spread awareness about gender discrimination in the hiring process by having us witness it happen in real-time.
The game is short but effective. The entire thing is played as a split-screen, with a male candidate on the left and a female candidate on the right. You watch from over the shoulder of the HR rep interviewing them, seeing how their identical CVs, backgrounds and answers are received differently because of their gender. Having the interviews take place at the same time using the split-screen visuals really allows for a quick and brutally effective comparison of how gender has an effect on perceptions of dress, word choice, and skills.
For example, the interviewer asks how the candidate sees themselves and you’re given three responses to choose from: “As a competent, ambitious professional”, “A discreet and diligent person”, or “What do you mean, I don’t get it?” I chose “As a competent, ambitious professional.” After making the selection, notes appeared on the HR rep’s screen for both candidates. On the man’s side they had noted “Resolute” but on the woman’s I read “Arrogant.”
Similarly, when asked where they saw themselves in the future I had the candidates respond, “With an established career and a family.” For the male candidate this had connotations of “work ethic.” For the female candidate it raised a “pregnancy alert.” And so it continues.
The game doesn’t only show how things are unfairly weighted against female candidates either, it highlights how the hiring process can be sexist towards men too. Though choosing to wear jewellery makes the HR rep see the female candidate as “elegant” and “pretty” it makes them note “weird look (gay?)” for the male candidate. And when it comes to salary it’s a different story again. You can choose to ask for £30k or £20k. Choosing £30k is asking too much for the woman but it’s noted as reasonable for the man. Choosing £20k is noted as reasonable for the woman but it makes the interviewer question whether the man is desperate and underselling himself.
In the end the game highlights that, despite the things that went wrong in the male candidate’s interview, he’s still feeling good about the job and he’s likely to get it. The story isn’t the same for the female candidate who is told she’s unsuccessful even when she performs to the same standard.
If you’d like to try Two Interviewees for yourself, you can download it free for desktop here and it’s also available for Android devices as a free download from Google Play. It’s not subtle but it’s a two minute game that quickly and effectively makes its point and, quite frankly, the time for subtlety has passed.