Women in the United States get paid 70 cents for every dollar men get paid for doing the same work. That may be an eye-opening statistic to some but it is no news to me. For 32 years I worked in information technology, in three different countries, climbing through the career echelons and progressively earning more and more money.
My last job was that of a Quality Assurance Engineer at one of the largest financial institutions in America. At the cusp of my IT career I was making $185,000 a year, which 12 years ago was a pretty nice pay. I was an independent consultant and I had to go through an agency that would hassle up a job for me and then take a hefty ongoing commission if the client agreed to use my services.
Every year or so I would renegotiate my rate with the agency owner. I would tell her that I couldn’t care less for how much she invoiced the client company or what was the size of her cut (both very confidential bits of data). However, if I ever found out that she paid me a single dollar per hour less than she paid one of my male colleagues, I would make that information very public and she would have a hard time finding a respectable company in that part of the country ever willing to even take her phone calls. This strategy worked wonders. I was thus not too surprised when one April morning, over a cup of java, Grace (her real name) generously offered me a 9.5% rate increase even though I would have gladly taken just 8%. We both knew what happened and we left the meeting feeling that a mutually beneficial agreement was reached.
The point I am trying to make is that women should not sheepishly wait for the men to pass the laws that will even the playing field for us. Women ought to individually stand up an demand those rights often and loudly. We should not have to state the obvious that equal work deserves equal pay, but take the reins and refuse to be victimized financially, physically, and in every other way.
Which reminds me of a fellow I met and was mildly interested in dating several years ago. We had some sort of an argument and he warned me: “Careful, because I hit!” I said I did not need to be careful because nobody hits me and lives to talk about it. I told him he may hit women who allow to be hit, but this one does not and it’s not going to happen. That, naturally, was the last time I saw the creep.
Let us not wait another few decades until the zeitgeist catches up to reality. Let’s not waste time or money in lobbying or marching in the street — both proven to be pretty futile tactics. Let’s demand the rights we deserve and let’s insist on them and things will start happening much quicker that through any government laws or intervention. As Betty Friedan so eloquently stated: “You can’t be given equality; you have to assume it.”