As I’ve said before, I am a writer only now and I regularly struggle with content. So, thinking about today’s post had me stumped, until… the comments in the awards last night by Patricia Arquette. Yes, the ones about women’s rights and wage inequality. But it’s pretty controversial and a heated topic. Not one I’d normally tackle; until I read a blogger’s e-mail this morning. The writer is one I truly admire, Seth Godin. He inspired me to start this blog and to keep at it. His thoughts for today gave me the initiative to post this… You don’t have to read on, but here is just one perspective – mine.
A little back story first.
I was great at math and science in high school but not so much in English or language arts as they now call it. So, while I was tracking to go onto a science or engineering path in college, I tested well at a career option that I subsequently chose not to take. That path, that career was Social Work. Why didn’t I go for it, help others, be a part of change? Well, because I didn’t grow up with a lot of money. I was going to college on scholarships and loans. Back then, it was worth the debt… But, I wanted to be able to do as much as I could for my future, my family and my children. At the time, the average wage for a social worker was under $20,000 while the average engineering wage was in the $40,000 range.
It was a no brainer – and I had the brain to get there.
So, flash forward through my career. I indeed became an engineer, working for a petroleum company. Big oil. The good ole boys network if there ever was one (and there have been…at least I’ve been told.) In the engineering group, I never once felt that I was paid less than my male counterparts. Ever. Not even when I changed to the marketing department. I didn’t make less than my male counterparts until I took unpaid leave after my 12 weeks of FMLA for having not one, but three babies. I made less that year (each of them indeed), but I worked less. I don’t hold that against the company. They had to pay someone else to do my job while I was gone. I don’t expect to get paid for not working…
Nor, do I think that society should be telling my teenaged daughter that there is wage inequality. In my experience – there isn’t…and she shouldn’t anticipate one.
If you choose a path that takes you out of the workforce or you change your “work” environment to one that is more “ideal”. Flexible hours. Flexible work location. These perks have a price – one I am willing to accept right now. Statistically speaking I have affected my “wage” but all things are NOT equal; and that’s a very good thing.
I totally agree that everyone should expect the same wage – regardless of sex, race, religion, married/single or sexual orientation – but they can’t expect the same wage if they don’t work the same job – or if they can’t work the same job. So, while I have appreciated the path that has been forged before me I don’t want to make little of my current choices. One perspective, my perspective, is that the choices were worthwhile. As are those who choose to be a stay at home mom – or stay at home dad – or to live closer to family – or to work a job you love vs. a job that pays more. In any case, forgoing the additional wages for something they value more is not inequality. It is fair – to oneself.
~ Dawn aka Hat Girl