Don't let deep-seated sexism take away what you've earned.
Yes that’s right. It’s 2015 and women STILL earn less than men for the same work — on the average in the United States, for every dollar a man earns, a woman earns 78 cents. Factor in race and the numbers get worse. Black women earn 64 cents for every man’s dollar and Latinas earn 56 cents.
With facts like these, how does anyone believe we don't need feminism anymore?
There are a number of reasons for this wage gap, according to social researchers. Women tend to work jobs that are historically underpaid (like social work or teaching).
Alternatively, when women enter job areas, the status of the job drops and pay and benefits decline. Eighty years ago, being a secretary was a high-status position held by men. By the end of the Second World War, this changed. Women who entered the work force during the war remained there after the troops returned home. Jobs like that of the secretary, book-keeper and bank teller where women were making in-roads became less desirable for men, and the pay and status of these jobs dropped accordingly.
Even lawyers, professors, doctors and women of industry deal with the gendered pay gap, demonstrating that a good education and a carefully planned career isn't enough to overcome deep-seated sexism. Even with your MBA, a guy with a high school education is likely to make more money than you.
But before you get too depressed about your bleak financial future, know that there are a few things that you can do about this:
1. Find A Long-Term Mentor
The most important thing you can do as a woman is to seek out and actively work with a long-term mentor. Make sure she's a woman who has earned the respect of others in her field and knows how to navigate through this kind of structural sexism. She doesn’t necessarily have work in your field; however, she does have to understand how being a woman in your field affects your work and how your work culture shapes your life as a woman.
2. Find Short-Term Mentors
Get short-term mentors who can help you specifically with issues at work and the skills you need most to achieve success. For example, hire a coach to help you learn how to ask for a raise or a promotion, or find a speaking professional to assist you with presentations. Take a conflict management course or learn NLP (Neuro-Linguistic Programming) so that you can build rapport with others in the workplace more easily.
3. Have A Direct Relationship With Your Boss
Make sure your direct boss knows that you're looking to move up in the organization. If you don’t tell them, they may assume that you're content where you are. This is particularly true for millennials who employers sometimes perceive as ready to take the dive into motherhood. (The "motherhood penalty" is another key reason women experience a loss in their career and earning potential.) Make sure those you directly report to know you have this covered.
4. Hire An Assistant Or Housekeeper
Get the help you need so that you're as successful as possible in your job. Don't put precious financial resources into haircuts, pedicures and the latest fashions, AND plan to do all the housework in your "spare time". If you need flexible daycare assistance, help with meal preparation, laundry and house work, find a reliable person to assist you with these things. Trying to do it all yourself simply means that you'll do all of it poorly, or you'll find yourself sick and frazzled in the middle of deadline hell.
5. Choose Your Work Environment Carefully
Unionized environments have a much lower wage gap. For example, unionized work places in Canada boast only a 2% wage gap between males and females. If you can work in a unionized environment, then do it!
Equal pay is important not just for women today, but also for our daughters and their children.
Feminism is often considered a bad word by young women today who enter the workforce and start families thinking they can have it all if they just stay focused and work hard enough. Focus and hard work is important, but young women must learn how to undermine sexism in the workplace if the gender gap is ever going to disappear.