Should women coming back into the workforce reveal marital status or information about their child-care responsibilities during a job interview? A new study says they should.

"The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) strongly discourages employers from asking questions about women's family status--whether they have children and if they have child-care responsibilities," said Jennifer Bennett Shinall, an assistant professor of law at Vanderbilt Law School and co-author of the report.

"Most career advisers strongly discourage women from being forthcoming with information about their family status."

Amid this conventional wisdom, Shinall and Vanderbilt Law School professor Joni Hersch devised a study.

Three thousand subjects were asked to serve as potential employers. "We gave them two finalists candidates: some revealed why they had a gap in their career and sometimes the candidates did not reveal that information," she said.

The results? Female candidates who provided personal information on job interviews saw their chances of being hired for the position rise by 30 to 40 percentage points.

"It seems that the current policy guidance is having unintended negative consequences," Shinall added. "Individuals tend to prefer known risks over unknown risks, and if you're not forthcoming, particularly if you have a very child-care related career gap on your resume, you become an unknown risk, and an employer will then prefer a known risk."

Shinall said employers and job interviewees should be having open and honest conversations. "We recommend women be forthcoming with this information," she said, including asking for flexible hours on certain days and the ability to work from home.

The EEOC has not yet responded to Shinall's study, but she hopes the organization will alter its guidance and encourage women to have more transparent conversations with employers.

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