I read an interesting article the other day regarding the difference in pay between men and women.
The author wondered if perhaps part of this discrepancy was due in part to men having the ability to go out and network after hours. Golf on Saturday, beers on Friday night . . . is it easier for men to get out and socialize with pals from the workforce than it is for women to do the same?
Females who don’t have families might have an easier time stopping at Joe’s Bar for a beer on Friday evening. A female with a family? Probably not. Chances are the babysitter, daycare center or family member that is watching the child is expecting the mom to come by at some point and pick the child up – and they don’t want her driving up smelling like a bar. And once the child has been picked up mom then needs to ensure her family has dinner and gets to bed at a certain time. Not much time for socializing in that schedule!
Certainly we can hire a babysitter for a few nights out of networking, but at $10 an hour that money adds up. Before you know it a quick $4 beer turns into a $40 event. Unless you are guaranteed a sale or a raise, $40 a few times a month could really put a dent in the old wallet.
When we have a family to tend to, someone has to tend to the family. Could the dad pick up the kids and take care of them while mom socializes? Sure, and I know it happens a lot. When I regularly attended NAWBO dinner meetings each month my husband made it a point to come home early and take over the household duties so I could go network.
Mind you, I said when I attended regularly . . . because, sadly, I no longer do.
I’m still a member, and I still want to attend, but the truth is life has gotten in the way. And yes, most of that life is my family. Am I complaining? Absolutely not. I understood this when I had children so I am okay with the shift.
Which leads me to this: Could it be that the discrepancy in salary between men and women is just that many women at some point in their careers will stop and have children, and that when we pause to do so our priorities switch from climbing our way up the corporate ladder to having and taking care of our family?
I do think we can be successful in our careers and successful as parents. I do not believe that the two cannot coexist. Yet I also don’t think that you can give yourself 100% to two things all of the time.
As moms I believe that we try. We work, we cook, we attend the kids’ games. But by not slowing down in one area we are heading for a huge crash, so ultimately something has to take the backseat. Many times, that becomes our jobs.
When I think about those who are at the top of their career games, I think of those that sacrifice almost everything -time, sleep, friends – to get there. They are getting in early, working late, and devoting hours upon hours of time to the job. A mother would have a difficult time doing this unless she had a husband and a houseful of helpers standing behind her.
I was watching Beverly Hills, 90210 the other day. I know, don’t roll your eyes. It’s a guilty pleasure that I partake in on the early mornings that I wake and workout at home and I’m sticking to it! Dr. Rey, one of the main physicians, was working during the time he was supposed to spend with his children. He made a statement, which was in a nutshell that he loved his family and that he felt he had to work constantly because it would make them happy. I’m sure by this statement he meant that he would be able to afford to keep his family in a comfortable lifestyle if he worked a lot, which would in turn make them happy.
I wondered at the time he made the statement if this might be one of the differences between men and women workers that could lead to the discrepancy in pay. Once we have a family, do women tend to stand back more from the career track to take care of the kids, and do men tend to throw themselves into work harder because now they have more people to support?
So this difference in thought could be one explanation behind the pay discrepancy that exists between men and women. After all, when we have children it is oftentimes the woman that steps back from the career and begins to focus primarily on the children. This is changing somewhat in our society, especially in families where the woman makes more money than the man. I have friends whose husbands are stay at home dads, and guess what? The mothers who are the sole financial providers are working hard, networking, and climbing that ladder.
In the workplace, women often take a break after having children. One blog poster, a male, said that if he were to take two months off to have a baby and then return to the office, leave right on time each night and not show up because the kids were sick he would expect to make less money than those who were in the office fourteen hours a day.
He also mentioned that some women take long breaks after the birth of a baby, a few years while the kids are young, and then return to the workforce. Still, their priorities have shifted when they do come back, while many of the men with whom they worked had continued on in the company. So how then could they expect to make the same paycheck as someone who has been in the workforce continuously and who, three years later, still comes in early and goes home late?
Of course, with all of these things it still doesn’t make sense that women who do work the same amount of hours at the same level of job are making less than their male counterparts. What is the difference here? I find it hard to believe that going out for a beer with the boss is the reason behind the pay discrepancy, and if a woman is working the same amount of hours and has the same amount of training, why the pay difference?
Yet some say that the often quoted wage difference doesn’t take into account factors that would show the difference in wages between men and women who have the same education, work the same hours, and have been on the job the same amount of time. Instead they believe that this wage difference statement is just an average comparison of people who work 35 hours per week.
What do you think? Do you believe that the wage difference between men and women could be contributed to women having children and making their family more of a priority than their job?
Do you believe that even if this is the case, men and women should be paid equally for doing the same job? Or should we take into consideration the fact that some employees will work longer and harder hours and should be compensated for doing so, while other employees will put in the time that they need to put in but not extra time due to outside responsiblities, and so there should be a pay difference between these two groups-regardless of their gender?