Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Pay Inequity?? In 2014??


If it wasn’t for the thin, high definition TV, I’d be convinced I traveled back in time. News stories about fair pay for women?? Women claiming that pay inequity is good for all women because it’s easier to catch a man if you make less? What is going on here? And why are there politicians coming out with these opinions in 2014? Do the Republicans think that a return to the mythical 50’s is the right direction for this country?

For the sake of full disclosure, I will admit that my opinions have changed over the years. I tell myself that this is mostly due to wisdom, but the reality is that I’ve changed. Some of the change has been for the better and some for the worse, but I’ve changed. My opinion on this topic hasn’t changed. In the 70’s and 80’s in northern Minnesota (that was still socially trapped in the 50’s and 60’s but without the whole free love thing), pay inequality was not a big issue because women weren’t allowed to have the same jobs as men. Let that sink in. 

I knew my mom was having a rough time getting work, but when I worked with her in the same resort, she made more than me. Of course I was a fifteen-year-old bus boy, but my point is that this issue never came up in conversation or through my observation.

My next real job experience was the Army. I was stationed here and there for training and did some Temporary Duty (TDY) in a few other places, but spent most of my time on the East coast. I heard about the issue for the first time out there, where the 80’s were actually the 80’s. It made no sense to me. In the Army, a private got a private’s pay. Gender played no role. We didn’t have a lot of women in uniform, maybe twenty five percent, but I saw female officers and senior NCO’s and they all got paid the exact same as their male counterparts. I was aware that there was a glass ceiling issue for female officers in the General ranks, but that seemed so far away from my reality that I had a hard time caring. Few of anyone except West Point ring knockers made General. Most hit the ceiling at Major or Lieutenant Colonel, regardless of gender. But I digress. My point is that there may have been a lot of inequality or lack of promotion in the Army, but I didn’t see it and my simplistic view was that all E-5 Sergeants with 4 years of service made the exact same thing.

The equality in pay was a cause for my frustration on more than one occasion. As a private in training, I had occasional opportunities to interact with my female equivalents. During this fraternization, I was constantly expected to buy the ladies drinks. The first couple of times, I did so without thought, but then it occurred to me that they were all making exactly the same amount of money I was. I thought about protesting. Simply refusing to be taken advantage of in such an obvious and unfair way. I really did. The problem is that I was under 22 and my primary brain did not get the final vote.

I remember the issue heating up for awhile, and then it seemed to disappear from news coverage. I moved from the Army to hourly jobs while going to college and again, I saw men and women making the exact same hourly rate. After graduating from college, I switched from an hourly job to my first salaried career in the female dominated Long Term Care industry. I was the lowest paid Director on staff by a serious margin. The Administrator was a woman. She was wicked smart, strong and a highly effective leader and made good money.

Then I traveled back in time to a company called NSP. When I got there, most of the power plants were still trapped in the 70’s. It was and still is a heavily male dominated company. There weren’t just Snap On tool calendars on the walls; there were Playboy and Penthouse magazines in the break rooms. That was all cleaned up by 2001, but there were still few opportunities for women. It did occur. The Head of Shared Services is and was one of my favorite people, and she was a tough VP, but she was an exception. I had no way of knowing if women that were in the same jobs as men got paid less or not. I made sure that in my department, were possible, there weren’t any pay inequities. Assuming two people had the same position description and had the same experience, they were hired in at the same pay. Same with raises, people that performed got higher raises.

Clearly, that is not the way most of the country handles their business, or we wouldn’t have the ridiculous statistics that still has women in identical roles making only 77 percent of their male counterparts. It’s the year 2014 and I don’t think that number has significantly changed since I first hear it back in the 1980’s. There’s a term for that. I believe it’s BULLSHIT!

One of the arguments I’ve recently heard is that some men are threatened by women that make equal to or more money than them. This is part of the argument being put forward by some women. That’s not a typo. Women are making this argument.

I’m a Minnesotan and we are not known for bragging. Unlike most of the bullshit stereotypes shown first in the movie Fargo and now the TV series Fargo, that one is accurate. By the way, you can love Fargo, it’s ok, but if you start saying “yaaaa” to me at a convention, I’m going to punch you in the throat.  If you know me, you know that I don’t beat my chest a lot and don’t really care for people that do. I’m going to break that trend and be hypocritical for the sake of proving a point.

I am claiming here and now that my man card can't be seriously challenged by anybody. I have all the manly credentials needed to include the really silly polls that show up on FB to the more serious credentials that are usually not included because they only apply to 1% of the population (that would be veterans of the military). I was rendering safe unexploded ordnance before I turned 21 in the US Army. Back then my balls would clang together when I walked. Luckily I never needed to sneak up on anyone. By the time I was fifteen, I was proficient in all manner of firearms and woodcraft and eventually became an even better tracker than my dad. By the time I was 25, I’d been in enough fights that I no longer dreaded getting my as kicked and would rather wake up in the hospital than take shit from anyone. I’ve had pistols pointed at me, knives pulled on me and my life threatened several times. I am not a badass. I don’t seek out trouble and never have, but this Jackpine Savage doesn’t run, especially now because I’m overweight and out of shape. But my point is still valid.

Why does this matter? Because I’m confident in my masculinity. I don’t shove it in peoples faces precisely because of the C word. Confident, not the other one. I’m here to tell you that if there are any “men” out there that are intimidated because a woman makes more than them, They. Are. PUSSIES. Why would a woman ever be attracted to a man that she had to act meek for fear of intimidating him? Men like that don’t deserve to propagate.

I would LOVE to have my wife make more than I do. I make a good wage, more than I ever thought I would make when I was in the Army, thats for damned sure. If my wife made more than I did, that means that WE would be able to reach more of OUR financial goals. It sure as hell would have made 2012 easier because when I got laid off, I was the only one pulling in a salary. Most married households are two income families. The middle class is only still the middle class because of those two incomes where before, one would do. How could any husband anywhere argue that their wives shouldn’t make as much as they do? It makes no damned sense.

I have two daughters and no sons. If my daughters do the same work, they also deserve the same pay, as does my wife. Their gender is irrelevant in the workplace. If they end up being poor employees, then they should not get high increases. But if they are the best (more likely IMHO), then they should lead whatever department or company they are, and that goes for all women everywhere.

As I said, my opinions on some topics have changed over time, usually because I have been exposed to a new argument or position that opened my eyes and made me think about the topic in a different way. Please, feel free to make any cogent argument here on my Blog or on FB. Who knows, maybe you can even change my mind.

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