Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Unequal pay

Today is the day that the salaries of Men and Women are compared.  I guess you could call it salary day or lack of salary day for the many women who get short changed by the “system” or perhaps clap your hands in joy and smile allot with a stupid grin day if you’re a man.  It takes approximately 15 months for an average woman to make what a man makes in 12.  The question is why?  Why do women make less for doing exactly the same work as their male counterparts?

One suggested reason is the inability of many women to negotiate properly for themselves.  Many women undersell their own abilities, fail to negotiate using their strengths and are hesitant about promoting themselves, fearful of coming across as crass, or insensitive, leaning more toward the desire to be accepted and liked rather than rock the boat for better pay and benefits.

There was a study done recently regarding the position of women as negotiators and an interesting pattern emerged; women may not do well negotiating for themselves but when they fight for another woman the salaries tend to be equal to that of their male associates, helping researches to understand the underlying motivations of women.

Women really are the nurtures and caregivers, thinking of others before themselves.  They routinely use compassion and rely upon their feelings when making decisions.  The analytical aspects are not left out but the bonus of empathy creates a balance that perhaps brings a more rounded and long term solution to any given problem.  To many this may sound like a push toward segregation of duties and a push back to the days before “women’s lib”. 

There are many, both women and men who pine for the old days when men would go off to work, slave all day in the preverbial coal mines of industry, leaving the wife to care for the kids, leaving her dressed in peals and high heels, her day solely dedicated to her husband and the care of their offspring.  There is some credence to their arguments for societal reasons with one being that if more women stayed home the children of this world would be better suited for today’s challenges.  Another is that if women stayed home the jobs they currently possess would have to go to the men letting them be the primary breadwinners and providers with the end result being a more stable family life.

The reality however is much more complicated and controversial than a simple fix of all women quitting their jobs and donning aprons over dresses.  Women were essentially forced to work during the Second World War, when production of war materials was needed and available men were not available.  Women stepped up and liked the independence and freedom and have been a major force in the work place ever sense.

I wonder how many women would like to turn back the hands of time and revert back to what used to be.  How many would opt for a life of homemaker, help meet or handmaiden or more appropriately domestic partner.  Wondering is only that a dream of insignificant proportions for the reality far exceeds the desire for most, even for those who wish fervently most women have to work regardless of what they truly believe or desire, and that brings us back to the essential question of why women get paid less for doing the same job as men.

As suggested above it’s primarily a negotiating issue and in a large part only in relation to the salaried employees.  Hourly pay for men and women are essentially equal.  Men do get promoted easier and that is still an issue to overcome but for salaried employees and only those in private industry the issue of pay is due to a woman’s inability to sell herself.

It has been suggested and studied that when women stop looking at themselves as the target of negotiated salary discussions and start using their spouses, their children and even their pets, their mortgages, car payments etc…as the motivator the salary negotiations turn out to be more in line with a mans. 

Obviously men and women should be paid the same for doing the same job, really no discussion there.  Should women stay home, are they better suited for domestic life, perhaps but those realities of our own making have made that scenario very improbable.  Kudos for those who accomplish that goal and also desire to live that life but for many women and I know this is hard to do, stop thinking of yourselves when negotiating  your salary, start thinking of others first.  Stop being so selfish and start thinking about your husband’s retirement or your kid’s college or your pets, they all depend on you to bring home the bacon.  If you’re going to work you might as well be well paid.

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