July 14, 2010

Do Women Earn Less Because They Work Less?

For a while I have been debating with others about wage equality in the USA for women.  Usually its in the context that women who are Muslim are more oppressed but not those who adhere to another religion or no religion. I debated that regardless of the labels women give each other the Bureau of Labor Statistics states that women are indeed receiving less pay than men for the same amount of work or type of work. Now at first I thought it was blatant sexism in the work place but after discussing mahrs aka dowries with other women I have changed my opinion.

I now think women get paid less than men because we are less likely to ASK for a raise and instead wait around for our bosses to promote us or give us one.  NOW, the boss wont dish out money if they don't have to so they will give the bonuses, promotions, raises to those employees who DO pester them for it mainly the men. When I was dorming I remember talking to a friend of mine and he was like "let me run my raise request by you before I present it to my boss."  I asked him if it wasn't weird or awkward and he said "NO."  I asked him what he would do if his boss wont give it to him and his reply was simple "start looking for another job." I think because we as a gender are more inclined to security we don't habitually take big risks as some of our male counterparts do.  I think this hesitation keeps us from earning more. Of course there are always exceptions.

We also tend to devalue ourselves and low ball our experiences. I don't know why that is as it can be cultural, religious, or personal problem but mainly a deep rooted inferiority complex.

Women working 41 to 44 hours per week earn 84.6% of what men working similar hours earn; women working more than 60 hours per week earn only 78.3% of what men in the same time category earn (Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics)
 What Difference Does Education Make?
Higher levels of education increase women’s earnings, just as they do for men. However, there is no evidence that the gender gap in wages closes at higher levels of education. If anything, the reverse is true: at the very highest levels of education, the gap is at its largest, as shown in this chart.
read this article for more info.

Could it be parenting? Could it be that we encourage and tell our boys that they are meant to be the breadwinners and therefore they should be aggressive in their careers? Why not give the same message to our girls? Heck if they are going to be in the workforce might as well earn as much as they can. There is nothing wrong with that but how many of us have heard that from our parents?

STOP IT. Regardless of the reasons sack up and start appreciating and valuing your work as you should. Even in high school I waited for my teachers to recommend me to the honor and advanced placement classes, or to nominate me for programs. In contrast my male friends would ASK for the recommendations and they moved up faster than I did.  It took me a long time to get rid of this shame.  There is nothing wrong in asking  for what you want or for what you think you deserve, the worst thing that can happen is that they say no.  I hope that when I have daughters I will NOT be passing on this lack of self esteem, lack confidence in my work and inferiority complex. InshaAllah I will raise strong believing women who will stand up for their rights no matter what country they happen to be living in. 

edit: Could it also be that a woman who earns more and quickly moves up the corporate ladder is usually accuse of achieving that on her back? *wink*wink* I don't have the answers but I would LOVE to hear what you have to say about it..

I am a woman hear me roar


caraboska said...

Oh, I remember one time being put in a non-honors class. It was in 8th grade. And the weird part was that I had up until then never even had to ask - it was just a given that I would be in an honors class. At any rate, it was a total waste of time (and furthermore, later that year the teacher was busted for inviting kids over to her place to smoke pot - not individually, in groups, at least that).

So I went down to the guidance office to question them as to why it didn't happen that way this time around. And the person I talked to said something about that my performance on some standardized test hadn't been up to par. So I said, 'For someone of my abilities? That's absolutely impossible.' And I don't remember whether I threatened to get my parents involved, or just went home and told them about the matter, but soon thereafter I found myself in the honors class. My recollection is that my parents went to the administration and made a fuss.

But be that as it may, in retrospect I think I know why the school did this. I was well-known for not getting along with male teachers. Especially not male chauvinist male teachers. I had been known to stage one-woman feminist demonstrations - loud ones no less - in the middle of English class. And this particular teacher, shall we say, was not known for his feminist views. So they thought they would solve the problem by making sure I got all female teachers. NOT. And indeed, eventually there was a bit of a problem. Thank God I never had that teacher again after that year.

Candice said...

Good post! We need to make our mark! Here in Quebec my mom is a nurse aid and a more male-dominated job that requires the same type of education (like welding) gets higher salaries and recently they gave a bonus to some of these women-dominated jobs in governmental places like the hospital to try to bridge the gap a little. I liked the idea of that, even if it doesn't actually bridge the gap. They were acknoledging the problem and even putting attention on it.