What Men Want
Speaking Out

Jane Gets to the Other Side

The Washington Post had something to say regarding the Wal-Mart lawsuit, in an article written by staff writer Amy Joyce, Thursday, June 24th. Amy reminded readers that women still earn "an average of 77 percent of what their male co-workers do, up from 59 percent 40 years ago." But, the 1.6 million women facing off against unfair practices at the retail giant are bringing the equal pay for equal work issue back to the forefront, with muscle.

According to a quote by John C. Fox, of Fenwick & West in Mountain View, CA, "I think this is going to be the fuse that ignites the compensation analysis that we've never seen before."

Wal-Mart is defending itself by whining that the differences in pay and positions were "due to differing job aspirations and interests between men and women that exist in the general labor force," which only proves they're hiding beneath that glass ceiling women have been pounding on for decades now.

Their supposition is blatantly false, anyway. Women may have been willing to take a back seat to men in those long ago Dick and Jane days, when "Father Knows Best" and "Leave it to Beaver" dominated the social landscape, but few women agree with that thinking today. I say few women because I know there are some foolish women out there who misguidedly think that because women bear children and are still primarily responsible for them, that they don't "need" the bigger salary; the Dad in the family does, to give the Mom the opportunity to 'stay home with the kids.' To counter that thinking, I merely sic the Stay at Home Dads on them.

Let's not get into that debate today. Being a stay at home Mom or Dad is hard work, it's valuable work, and it has more reward than any corporate position, but it doesn't negate the value of what women who work outside the home bring to the corporate environment. The WSJ has some insight into the reasoning behind the continued difference in how women are treated in the workforce.

The Wall Street Journal reports that, "Women Aspire to Be Chief as Much as Men Do." The story notes that "In 2002, women accounted for only 15.7% of corporate-officer positions and 5.2% of top earners at Fortune 500 companies." One of the reasons for this disparity, after one looks at lack of experience, is, according to a Catalyst report cited in the article, "Women also confront an additional and even more pervasive set of culturally related barriers-- such as exclusion from informal networks, stereotyping, a lack of role models and an inhospitable corporate culture-- experienced by very few men."

The Catalyst study is a powerful one. It deserves a look-see. The Catalyst site is one I recommend to all, for some superb information on gender diversity. The message is that women DO aspire to positions of power. Women DO want to be paid accordingly, and women DO feel left out, rightly so, if you take a look at the graph shown at the end of the WSJ article.

Here's what I think; the glass ceiling that has been keeping women from that corner office isn't being "cracked," it isn't being "shattered," and it isn't being "replaced" by policy promising female executives power without predjudice. It's slowly fading away, as if melting in a hot sun. As more and more women slip through it-- successful Alice in Wonderland women, reaching through the looking glass (all due respect to Michele Miller at Wonderbranding), to join friends and colleagues of both genders, on the other side-- it has no choice but to faded away.looking_glass2

What's not to like about that?


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Yvonne DiVita

I agree, Evelyn. I was hoping to show that women a)deserve better than platitudes mouthed by corporate mouthpieces when the issue of equal pay comes up, and the Wal-Mart lawsuit might help accomplish that, and b)the lawsuit might put more women in a position of strength to approach those C-level openings. Your point is well taken, women just aren't the negotiators that men are. I recently saw (haven't read it...my bad) a book out about negotiating... aimed specifically at women. I will have to look it up, read it, and post it to my reading list. The answers are out there, we just have to find them.

Evelyn Rodriguez

Yvonne, This probably does not apply to Wal-Mart as I doubt their salaries are negotiated on hire. But I noticed when I was hiring software engineers that the women tended to not negotiate as forcefully as men for what they wanted - they gave in too soon. (And I know I still do as well...I don't fight for what I think I'm worth.) So, that may explain some of the differences in parity especially in professional careers. Now the next question is 'why'...why don't we risk walking away from the table when bargaining?

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