I haven’t used this blog to talk politics, and I still don’t have any plans to do so. But – I listened to President Obama’s State of the Union Address Tuesday night, and given my interest in the topic, I wanted to share and focus on a few things he said.
“You know, today, women make up about half our workforce, but they still make 77 cents for every dollar a man earns. That is wrong, and in 2014, it’s an embarrassment.
Women deserve equal pay for equal work. (Cheers, applause.)
You know, she deserves to have a baby without sacrificing her job. (Cheers, applause.) A mother deserves a day off to care for a sick child or sick parent without running into hardship. (Applause.) And you know what, a father does too. It is time to do away with workplace policies that belong in a “Mad Men” episode. (Laughter, cheers, applause.) This year let’s all come together, Congress, the White House, businesses from Wall Street to Main Street, to give every woman the opportunity she deserves, because I believe when women succeed, America succeeds. (Cheers, applause.)”
- Yes, it is embarrassing that women earn $0.77 for every $1.00 earned.
- BUT – underlying, it’s not a problem of women being paid less for the same work. There are a few things going on. Men tend to work in industries and jobs that overall pay more than those that women tend to work in. And when women in the same industry / type of job as a man are being paid less on average, I think it can be attributed to a few things as well – women not being as assertive and not asking for as much when it comes to raises and promotions, and women having missed some time in the workforce when having/raising kids, which results in missed pay increases or going “backward” in a profession, which is hard to make-up for.
- Though women make up half the workforce, they only make up 44% of the full-time workforce (a source in income inequality by definition)
- Women do relatively better in nursing and admin work (where men are very few in number)
- Women do relatively poor in more technical/managerial fields, such as financial manager and CEO
- Create ways for women to continue to be engaged professionally and in meaningful ways when they have their families, so that they don’t have a multi-year gap in earnings and experience. I’m passionate about this, and want to figure out a way to make this happen right now.
- Don’t be afraid to ask for what you deserve when it comes to raises and promotion opportunities, especially for women. Go in expecting to negotiate, and be prepared to state why you deserve an opportunity and should be considered for it.
- Encourage kids and young professionals to join whatever field or industry suits their interests, whether its historically male/female dominated. Part of this is a numbers and work environment game, which won’t change until men/women reach a critical mass in a particular field.