In this current economy, more and more businesses are asking their workers to do two jobs for the price of one. Such seems to be the case of a Canadian firm looking for a content writer/sometime receptionist. It would help if the person was female, of course, because real men don’t do reception.

The following posting, sent to us by several different people, is for Vestra Inet, a web design company. Seems like it would be a pretty pleasant day-to-day situation, what with all the blog posts the ideal candidate would be writing and the face-to-face client interaction they’d be involved in.

Here are the skills required:

  • Writing talent; excellent grammar and spelling expected
  • Computer knowledge
  • Knowledge of social media (Google+, Facebook, Twitter)
  • Knowledge of SEO
  • Superior organizational abilities
  • Ability to work independently and in coordination with a team
  • Oral and written communication skills
  • Knowledge of Russian is a plus
  • Please attach a copy of your resume for our review. Note that during the interview you may be asked to demonstrate your writing abilities by being assigned 20 minutes to write on a given topic.

Sounds great. Oh, whoops, also:

Please note that the Position requires filling in the responsibilities of a receptionist, so female candidates are preferred.

It would be understandable if this tidbit were included in a listing from 1957, but that is not the case. Vestra Inet company’s alive and well, and when I (a man who would make a great receptionist, OK) called them, I found out that they did find a woman after all.

The woman I spoke to at the company told me that she couldn’t tell me about the applicant who got the job, but that she could confirm that some men did apply for the position.

“And did you hire a woman?” I asked the polite Russian voice on the other end of the line.

She answered yes, and then added, “Why is this important?”

“We’ve had a lot of emails suggesting that your ad was sexist,” I said.

“Oh. Uh, I’m not authorized to give you that kind of information,” she said, before ending our conversation.

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For context, Vestra Inet seems like a predominantly Russian company; the ad asks for Russian speakers, and the woman on the phone had a Russian accent. And based on the strength of the push to conform to stereotypical gender roles in Russia, it would make some sense that such a company wouldn’t want to shock their more conservative clients with a dude just chilling at the reception desk.

Unfortunately, that’s not limited to countries with atrocious human rights policies. A quick search for “can a man be a receptionist” on Google brings up a multitude of sincere queries about this topic, such as whether companies even have to entertain male applicants for the role or whether being a receptionist makes you gay (yes).

We have a long way to go.


Contact the author at mark.shrayber@jezebel.com.

Image via Screencraft