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Firm requests job candidates are women because 'role includes reception duties'

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Anna Pollitt
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Are you a whizz with words? Speak Russian? Have a vagina? Then you have a shot at the most hilariously sexist job of 2015.

A web design company has provoked anger - and pity - over its puzzling advert for a content writer/SEO specialist that says a female candidate is preferred, because the writing role includes receptionist duties.

Come again? 

Canadian company Vestra Inet wants its new employee to write web content, have a handle on social media and SEO and "knowledge of Russian is a plus".

But when it comes to the receptionist duties that need to be picked up as part of the role, its the anatomy of its prospective employees that seals the deal.

Maybe our slimmer fingers make us superior at filing forms? Or our high-pitched sing-song voices give us an edge when it comes to answering the phone?

Naturally, Twitter lit up in outrage:

The Toronto-based company scrambled to issue a sorry-not-sorry statement on its Facebook page:

“We would like to address the attention and comments that we have been receiving after our company posted an advertisement on LinkedIn for the position of “Content Writer & SEO Specialist” with receptionist responsibilities.

“Several individuals have found the wording of the ad to be offensive, and we want to assure everyone that we did not mean to discriminate against any particular gender or group. Vestra Inet is a company that believes in promoting diversity. Our staff currently consists of employees of various genders and ethnicities. Above all, Vestra Inet values knowledge and talent.”

In case it was in doubt, the Ontario Human Rights Commission does state that it's illegal to discriminate against groups either directly, or indirectly in job adverts.

Vestra's is an odd kind of sexism. The firm is clear that both sexes are equally capable of fulfilling the professional skills required for the bulk of the role and yet simultaneously harks back to a Mad Men-era notion that lower-skilled duties can only be performed by women.

As many commentators pointed out, the company may be wiser searching for a HR specialist to drag them into 2015.

Have you experienced sexism in the search for a new job? Tell us in the comments section below or on Facebook.

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Anna Pollitt

Anna is a freelance writer and editor who’s been making her dime from online since 2007. She’s a regular at Stylist.co.uk, ITV News and Emerald Street and moonlights as a copywriter and digital content consultant. The baby is borrowed.

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