I firmly believe women will never truly feel equal until we've known what it feels like to be the dominant gender.
How would society be different if women had never been homemakers? If the first president of the United States had been a woman? If men made less money than women regardless of their education and experience level, society would be very different.
But alas, as all women know, the pendulum is not destined to swing that far in our direction.
When women joined the workforce in droves during World War II, they were paid lower wages than men. Perhaps the reasoning was their lack of experience or lack of education. But now, women are more likely to attend college than men (according to US News, in 2013, 21-34-year-old women were 21% more likely than men to hold a college degree and 48% more likely to have earned a graduate degree.) Why then do we still get paid less and why are we still less likely to work in male-dominated sectors?
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, in the software development sector, 19.8% of the workforce are women, earning 83% of the salary of a man in the same job. The highest number of women in "male-dominated" jobs work as architects, coming in at 25% of the workforce. I did find equality, in one industry sector, however. Within the field of healthcare technology, encompassing Radiologists, Anesthetic Technicians, and other machine operators, women are 81% of the workforce, and the pay is equal among genders.
How do we change the trend?
1. Continue to encourage young girls to pursue their interests at home. Sometimes they are intimidated or less than interested in being in courses or extra-curricular activities with only boys.
2. Women need to change the conversation. It shouldn't be about inequality; it should be about talent and equal pay. Talk to your employer about ensuring people with equal experience are receiving equal pay.
3. Influence other women colleagues to start networking groups within the same industry. If men dominate your workplace, seek out people with whom who feel you can relate to and share your stories.
4. Encourage equality at home and teach your kids that mom and dad have equal responsibilities in the house. There shouldn't be "female" or "male" jobs at home.
5. Don't force a gap between men and women, encourage all talented people to be on the same team/
It is the job of employers to ensure employees in the same job are receiving equal pay; this is the only way to change the income gap. And women need to continue to pursue careers that appeal to their interests, regardless of who else is in the room. It doesn't have to be a fight for equality, but the conversation should continue, and people should take a moment to consider how life would be different if men were instead pushing for equality.
Jaime Bancroft Gennaro is the CEO of Neologic, a digital experience agency with an imagination lab. Neologic is proud of their two in-house projects: Cornbread App and Poetry for Robots @jaimegennaro @neologicpdx
Opinions expressed by the author are not necessarily those of WITI.
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