Looking for a woman

I’m looking for a woman,
That will work to set me down,
I’m looking for a woman,
That will work to set me down,
I’ve bin looking all night long,
She can’t be found.

When I was travelling in Peru I saw this sign and thought it was funny:

Looking for a girl or a woman

The sign says: WE NEED A WOMAN OR A YOUNG WOMAN. I thought it was so sexist it was funny so I snapped my photo and forgot all about sexist Peru.
Buenos Aires is a cool place: big, cosmopolitan, and advanced. But sexist as all get out. So this business is offering a few different jobs on Monster.com. Here are two of them.

The one for the men to apply to:

Monster.com notice for men

And then the one for women:

Monster.com notice for women

Any coincidence that the project leader should be a man while the person who gives tours should be woman? This is so common here that they will actually say “No. We’re looking for a man” or “Sorry. Only women.”

Machismo society is what it is. I have to be really honest and say that I don’t know why I’m shocked. But for some reason I am.

13 replies
  1. Diva
    Diva says:

    actually the sign you saw in peru is not sexist. Señora means that the woman is married and señorita means single, but you can be 21 yo señora or a 60 year old señorita….

  2. exnat
    exnat says:

    Hey Diva,

    Thanks for the correction. I gotta be more careful about my loose interpretation. I put that because I thought it sounded funnier which, in retrospect, it doesn’t. What I saw as the sexist part was that instead of putting WE NEED A WAITER they put WE NEED A MARRIED OR UNMARRIED WOMAN. They are clearly not age-ist.

  3. Mary
    Mary says:

    Funny– i see these signs all the time and I¨ve never really thought of them as sexist… just a different culture with different expectations of who should work where. Like women should work in shoe stores and men should work on buses (why it´s segregated like this I don´t know becaue there have been Nordstoms shoe salesMEN who have been the sole reason for my shoe purchases). Happily, I know that I should not work regardles of my gender. =)

  4. exnat
    exnat says:


    Thanks for the insight on perspective. I think I reacted really similarly when I first came to Latin America. While the fact remains that my native culture is different from the one here, my perspective has changed over time. I think that that’s a big difference between traveling and living, being “away” versus “at home”. The travel experience involves tasting the culture as you go along. A large part of the expat experience is having to actually confront the culture on its own terms.

    Today in the Carrefour there were 28 checkout counters open. 27 of them were “manned” by women. At my work there are 20odd graphic designers, 2 of which are guys. However, 100% of the 8 or so programmers are guys. This isn’t because of any discrimination per se. It’s just like what you write: the culture has certain expectations of who works where. There are just simply more girls doing design than guys.

    I’m not judging the culture and I’m open about
    my appreciation of women in service roles.
    but I do think that having expectations about who should work where based on gender is the very definition of sexist. In the USA we see this as something bad, a problem that should be solved. Girls should be more encouraged to study math in school, etc.

  5. exnat
    exnat says:

    On an offtopic non-expat note, I love NPR’s On Point with Tom Ashbrook in general and a recent episode deals with gender and women’s careers in the workplace in the USA:

    It’s been a long and winding road for women in the American workplace. First, they were frozen out or locked in the steno pool. Then came “liberation” with its open doors and glass ceilings. Then, a crisis of confidence over whether work and child-rearing could really co-exist.
    Now, the new challenge is that of the era of “extreme work,” when seventy-hour weeks and 24/7 demands can make work-life balance seem impossible. But we need the talents of women at top levels.

    You can find the show here

  6. mary
    mary says:

    No no, i agree, of course it´s sexist (that was supposed to be tongue in cheek). Although I think this exists in america just as much, we just pretend it doesn´t (all but one partners in my old firm were men, most secretarial positions are filled by women, etc).

  7. exnat
    exnat says:

    DIVA: actually the sign you saw in peru is not sexist.
    MARY: of course it´s sexist

    hmm… i’m confused… Diva, do you think it’s sexist or not?

    For me I think it’s interesting how the different cultures address the sexism (as well as the sexism of other cultures). So to me it’s really shocking that employers here often ask applicants to send photos of the applicant on their resumé/CV. I definately think there’s a lot of sexism in the States though we’re not as open about it. I think that it’s the openness that’s schocking to me.

  8. Diva
    Diva says:

    is the same as in the roomate ads in th states. You are not allowed to say something like ” I want a female roomate”. So you post your ad, you receive 100 e mails from girls and boys but you don´t reply the ones that were sent by boys. You are making people waste their time.

  9. exnat
    exnat says:

    Hey Diva,

    In the States offering a roommate situation is completely different than offering a job. I mean you can also place personal ads for whoever you want. We also have separate bathrooms, which I also think is sexist in my favor cause there is ALWAYS a longer line for the womens bathroom. But that’s for another post…

    What I’m saying is that what we don’t do in the States is say “WANTED FOR CEO: MAN” That’s considered sexist. And if someone sues you for it you can’t say “Hey, but we were going to hire a guy anyways, why not just say so. We didn’t want all those women to waste their time.” Yes, it happens all the time but it’s still illegal. As a country, we in the USA also like bartenders with large breasts and short tops. But you can also sue if you can prove that you are being discriminated against for your gender, breast size, whatever. The only difference really is that I don’t think we’re open about it in the way that I’ve seen here.

    But really, do you think that sign is sexist? Can you sue here if you’re being discriminated against? Do you think that it’s good to have a culture that’s openly sexist? If you’re going to be sexist is it better to be open or closed about it? What do you think, Diva?

  10. Cieguilla
    Cieguilla says:

    I grew up seeing that on a daily basis am quite disgusted at those adverts, especially after working in recruitment advertising for 6 years! In the UK that would never be allowed as there are age and sex discrimination laws and the (potential) employer could be taken to Court.

    I think we have a long way to go… not to mention that in Argentina you need papers to prove everything you know, regardless of whether you have something between your ears or not.

    PS: has anyone spotted/mentioned the spelling mistake in the sign? That is also frightening in my opinion!

  11. exnat
    exnat says:

    That’s so funny. I remember noticing the spelling mistake when I first took the picture but then I completely forgot that it was there. Jajaja.

  12. Chiara
    Chiara says:

    Hi, I saw your blog recently and read this post about sexism in Latin America. See, I’m a young female student and I’m Peruvian, and I have to encounter sexism and “machismo” each day. It’s true that sexism intensifies as socio-economic classes lower, but it is also true that generally all peruvians have strict preconceived gender roles. If a female or a male does or acts in away considered “masculine” or “femenine” respectively, they will be an object to society’s disapproval and even mockery. Women of lower socio-economic classes often follow the traditional marriage model: women/housewives (slave) and men/breadwinners, the only jobs which open up for these women are as ambulatory sellers, maids, nannies or those like the sign shown above. They are often beaten and forced into childbearing. The problem is that they don’t know that traditional models are not absolut, they don’t know alternatives ways of living and forming families are also acceptable. And also, men have their egos filled to the crown with their sexist, mysoginist power. What my society needs is a real, communal feminist revolution (understanding “feminism” as the quest for equality).
    Sorry for this long comment, I just find exciting that someone has opened up a discussion on the subject.
    Chiara Klatich.

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