engagement ring

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'Who knew this would be so controversial?'

On August 12, career counselor Bruce Hurwitz wrote a blog post on LinkedIn titled “When interviewing for a job, lose the ring!” In it, he outlines sitting in on an interview with a woman who was wearing an engagement ring with a large diamond. She confessed that she hadn’t gotten any callbacks from interviews, and asked if there was something wrong with her interviewing skills. Hurwitz, instead, chalked it up to her jewelry.

"When a man sees that ring he immediately assumes you are high maintenance,” Hurwitz wrote. “When the woman at the office who has the largest diamond on her finger, sees that ring, she will realize that if you are hired she will fall to second place and will, therefore, not like you. Lose the ring!"

The post, rightfully, angered many. It positions women as catty, competitive creatures—but only when shiny diamonds are concerned—and frankly, it’s really depressing to think that a competent person wouldn’t get a job because of her taste in jewelry.

However, Hurwitz has doubled- and tripled-down on his sentiment, posting two more blog posts about the subject. On August 14, he posted a response outlining why the engagement ring is worse than a wedding ring or an extravagant watch (and why he doesn’t have a career as a marriage counselor). 

“When a man gives a woman an engagement ring, he buys the least expensive ring that he believes it will take to get her to agree to the proposal,” he writes. “For women, it may be a symbol of everlasting love, but for men (when it is expensive), it is akin to a business transaction. So when a male interviewer sees what appears to be an expensive engagement ring he assumes the wearer is, as I said in the article, ‘high maintenance.’”

By August 22, he wrote about how the advice he had given was simple and straightforward, and corroborated by multiple sources. “Who knew this would be controversial? Not I!” However, he pivots into giving tips on how to write a viral blog post, which could basically be boiled down to “have an opinion that people are going to argue about.”

Aside from his assumptions about why people have and give engagement rings (which has a long, complicated history and has changed a lot over the years), there is the assumption that any woman with a large diamond is high-maintenance—and that being high-maintenance is so bad, it overshadows her professional qualifications and the rest of her personality. 

Then there is the term “high-maintenance.” It is not an accusation that gets thrown at men much. In fact, if men are demanding and exacting, that’s often seen as a good thing in the professional world. And yet for women, it’s seen as a threat.

“In a perfect world, we would be judged solely on our professional qualifications," Hurwitz said, after claiming his advice worked for the woman he gave it to. "It is not a perfect world.” But just because the advice works doesn’t mean it should.

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