Funny things happen when you research. For one, you learn new things. For two, you learn new things that blow your mind wide open. That happened to me this week.
In light of Mary Beth’s post concerning Mitt Romney’s comment about allowing his female staffer to leave work early to start dinner, I decided to research Romney’s history as well as Obama’s history when it comes to women’s rights, or, more specifically, equal pay.
Any working mother who paid attention to President Obama at any time over the last four years of his leadership had to have heard this statement: “If you do the same work as a man, you ought to be paid the same wage as a man.”
Any working mother living in the United States must have heard statistics thrown around: women make about 77 cents to every dollar a man makes.
But are those numbers legitimate, and has President Obama kept his logical position that a woman in the same position as a man should be paid the same amount? I wasn’t so sure.
You see, when the Bureau of Labor Statistics determines numerical values concerning the gender pay gap, there are often important variables left out. Warren Farrell, author of Why Men Make More, argues that “people who work 44 hours per week make 50 percent more than people who work 34 hours a week.” That makes sense. My father purposely worked overtime hours a lot during my childhood and maybe, just maybe, a woman working in his field made the same salary but didn’t work as often. I’ll give it a maybe. But if that’s true, it begs the question: Why?
As it stands, more men than women work 40 hours or more on a weekly basis. Why is that? Well, the way I see it, it’s because many of us have “mother” attached to that working status. We’re multi-taskers. And why does that matter when many of us have husbands who are also working fathers? I can only put it one way: we’re the sacrificial lambs. Others come first.
There is an entire section of LWM dedicated to the topic of guilt for a reason. There is a reason why women sign onto websites for advice and buy books during pregnancy and blog to vent and need reassurance. We are constantly trying to figure out if we’re doing everything well enough. If we’re making sure everyone else is taken care of.
Forbes recently published an article entitled Even When Women Write Their Own Checks, the Gender Pay Gap Persists. In essence, according to the 2012 Catalyst report, women are averaging $36,931 a year compared to men’s $47,715—or, the typical stat we’ve heard since 2001, about 76 cents to every dollar earned. But here’s the kicker: women are not paying themselves! Serious mind-blowing facts coming your way, my friends.
Julie Weeks, President and CEO at Womenable, claims that across the board, “There’s a tendency for female entrepreneurs to pay themselves last.” Shocked, are you? I’m not. We belong last, don’t we? We’re mothers. We eat last. We shower last. We fall asleep last. And then add to it, we’re working mothers. Our students come first. Our clients come first. Our coworkers come first. Our bosses come first. Our phone calls and emails and deadlines come at the expense of an actual half hour or—gasp—hour lunch. We’re last. It’s where we’ve chosen to be.
Forbes goes on to explain that corporations owned by women gross less money than corporations owned my men, and that if women have additional funds, they tend to spend money rewarding employees, pursuing new hires, or reinvesting in their companies. Damn it. Why the hell are we so selfless? Why don’t we ever take what’s ours?
At this stage, in 2012, we’re shouting at President Obama for [possibly] paying his female staffers 18% less, for not inviting female athletes to play at the White House, or even for not having enough females in his entourage. We’re crucifying Mitt Romney because his wife chose to stay at home with their kids and he makes comments about binders and wives making dinner. We’re upset because the topic is avoided. Yes, companies should pay women the same amount for the same position and experience. Yes, our President and any presidential hopefuls should set an example. But really, if we’re not even choosing to pay ourselves, if we’re not even recognizing how fantastic and hard-working and worth it we are, how can we expect anyone else to see our worth?
See what I did there? I just took responsibility for a nationwide issue that belittles me. Because I’m a working mom. And let’s face it, we’re always, always to blame.
Photo Credit (homepage) Flickr via 401 (k) 2012