Sunday’s New York Times article “Why Is Her Paycheck Smaller?” by Hannah Fairfield, describes the polarization of the labor market as women choosing careers where women flock while men choose careers dominated by men. Ms Fairfield attributes the overall great American wage gap along with standard discrimination to choice of vocation. Yet, to me, that just seems a little too pat. While Ms Fairfield obviously did a good amount of research on this, it doesn’t seem to satisfy my wholly unresearched determination that career choice and even garden variety bias has only partly to do with it.
While I cannot say with impunity, as I have not done the reasearch, that it possible that women make personal choices to be where women dominate, I also believe they choose jobs for which they don’t have to fight, connive, back-bite, or otherwise be ferocious to get paid their due. That is – jobs where nothing consciously or unconsciously obviates a woman’s right to get paid for the services she performs.
President Obama, not a foot dragger, thank God, has already signed a bill expanding a worker’s right to sue for wage inequalities. In only one or two instances, such as special ed and postal services, are women paid more than their male counterparts.
But to whom do we owe these inequalities? Is it entirely the fault of a male dominated society? Are we not at least several generations away from a time when women subjugated themselves this way? As a woman, I think it’s safe to say that we are afraid to ask for what men do. I believe that somewhere along the line, we were taught to treat each other like friends, not colleagues. That we were expected to just give, not get. That we were considered crass or vulgar for negotiating hard for what we know we deserve and that conversations about money were better left to the men, after all.
So, who, when all is said and done, is responsible here? IMHO, we women can and should raise our voices without exception especially during lean times to bring in the bacon.