If I haven’t completely enraged you yet over the current state of our economy, let me lead off this next post with one word:
Which is to say, if you are single and have no children, boobies will earn you a whopping 78 cents for every dollar your male cohort makes – on a good day. Did you dare to breed? Too bad, now you’re only going to make 71 cents for every male dollar.
The worse news: that’s assuming that both hypothetical parties are white. If you’re black or Latin, you chick might make closer to what your dudes are taking home, but that’s because “minority” males get pretty screwed as well.
I’m not going to get into a pissing contest with the Establishment about which bloody stupid GOPers consistently vote against equal pay laws – but I can tell you that every link in this sentence goes to a different article, the last being the HOUSE initiative for equal pay.
What can we, the people, do about it? What recourse do we possibly have against a system so ingrained with discrimination and bigotry that even asking a common sense question falls on deaf-dumb-and-blind people?
What’s worse is that many people don’t even realize that this is a thing. You know that whole “office etiquette” thing where you’re not supposed to tell other people how much money you make? It’s not because management thinks you’ll get overly distracted by all the people high-fiving you for being at the top of the mark. It’s because if you knew that your counterpart Bob in your department – that slacker who always leaves the empty coffee pot on in the break room and manages to disappear at 4:15 every Friday – is actually making $10,000 more than you are (you silly vagina owner, you), you’d probably get pretty miffed. Want to bring that up with the management? They’ll give you a song and dance about his value to the company, maybe an educational point or two… and then they have the option to put you on the short list for layoffs because now they know you’re dissatisfied with your job.
“Here! Let’s help a girl out! She’s not happy here, so let her be free in the job market! Go! Stretch your wings and fly – and ignore that pesky 6% unemployment rate, that’s just because people aren’t trying hard enough to find jobs.”
A lot of companies (especially ones trying to watch their bottom lines) actually deliberately hire women into key roles and directors and managers because while it’s demonstrated regularly that women work harder than men in responsible and executive roles, they get paid significantly less. Interestingly enough, no hard data is available, but the guess is that the higher the title, the bigger the gap – again, especially for companies that are cash-strapped.
There are some founders of companies that are taking matters into their own hands. Some start-ups have a “pay transparency” policy where everyone knows what everyone else is getting paid – and everyone gets paid the same thing for their job, commiserate with their experience and education. In other words, penises don’t game the system.
And, there’s always the option to start your own company. Entrepreneurship is not just the hobby of the rich – it’s the last resort of the destitute.
Necessity, as they say, the mother of Invention, and Invention watched Necessity work her fingers to the bone trying to get Invention through school, so hellzya Invention is going to visit the goodness on Mom! Invention is going to roll out the big guns and dig deep into his soul to find something that the world needs – some pain that needs to be relieved, some problem that needs to be solved – and Invention is going to make that shit happen.
And if Invention isn’t an asshole subscribing to the Aging White Male Establishment, Invention is going to pay his employees the same wage across the board for non-menial tasks.
See, there’s a really shitty underbelly to the wage gap: Another part of the reason why the gender wage gap looks smaller for minorities (though, no mistake, it is still there) is because the lower the pay, the more equal the pay, which is a fancy way of saying “no one can figure out how to pay Latinas cleaning houses 30% less than their Latino counterparts doing the lawn”. Sound racist? That’s because it is, and it’s uncomfortably true. Entry level positions in the tech sector are the same as well: everyone starts at $9 an hour (which, as you know, is over minimum wage but still not livable), and within six months or a year, raises start happening – and then the gender pay gap happens.
Do you know how demeaning it is to work your ass off taking calls and training people, having earned at least three raises, and then find out that the kid you just trained is moved into a team and automatically makes more than you do after only one month?
For any of you AWMEs out there, this emotion – feeling demeaned – is the feeling that you should be very, very afraid of. This is the emotion that makes us – women and minorities – recognize that our treatment by your system is financial abuse. Did you know that’s a thing? It’s a real thing, a behavior that controlling abusers use to keep their abusees in check, to keep them close.
Figured out what a wage gap is?
So, ladies and gentlemen of the public, we have a rough road ahead of us. Yes, I totally support and agree that there should be laws that require equal pay for equal work, but you and I both know that those will be gamed hard, just like anti-discrimination laws are gamed. The real answer is to not just buck the system but to create our own system. Don’t buy into the AWME attitude – choose in your own heart to forge your own path and to treat your fellow humans with equality, dignity, and respect along the way.
In case you missed it, there was a Part 1, a Part 2, and a Part 3.
I once worked for an organization for which, through a strange state law, all salaries were public. Except that the people working there didn’t know that. I found out and managed to get the complete list put into the local public library, with quarterly updates. And I actually managed to keep my name out of the local newspaper. Boy, were people upset! That document was by far the #1 target for vandalism for years.
I still dunno if it helped keep managers more honest or not. To tell that, someone would have had to key in the data and do a lot of stats. I did that for the couple dozen people I worked with. It showed one problem area, but she got married and moved away shortly after. (And gave up computers to take up photography)