Thursday, September 30, 2010

Dresses, Briefcases and The Paycheck Fairness Act

There has been a lot written about the pending Paycheck Fairness Act.  My good friend and fellow Blogger Mike Haberman has written many blogs on the subject.  This subject also came up in one of my classes last week as well.  So, when this happens I must blog about it.

The discussion has centered around if the Paycheck Fairness Act is needed to make sure men and women are paid for equal work.  Some people feel it is necessary and others do not.  My first reaction was, "No, this isn't necessary as women are catching up, women are graduating from college more than men, and there are more women in the workplace."  So, my theory is that the market will prevail and the disparity will correct itself.  I also feel there is so much compensation data available, you can find out what you are worth pretty easily.  So, why would a person settle for less?  (except in times like these of course)

But then, I thought to myself...'Self, why do you think this way?"

And then I figured it out.  It is the way I was raised and the fact that I use my own experiential lens when discussing this subject.  Here are a couple of my childhood experiences that have shaped my opinion:

1) As a little girl growing up in the south, I was definitely a girlie-girl tom boy.  I loved to play outside with all the boys, but I did so in my frilly dresses and matching shoes.  I remember one day I dashed outside to climb trees with the boys and they toldl me I can't climb a tree, because I have on a dress.  So, I ran to the house and put on my shorts under the dress, ran back to my friends, climbed the tree all the way to the top while the boys stood on the ground in amazement.

2) A few years later, I watched my Dad take his briefcase to work every day and I wondered what he did.  He was a businessman and I became intrigued.  I went to work with him, I asked questions, I was hooked.  I wanted to be a businesswoman.  I had no idea that girls were not businesswomen.  So, for Christmas one year I got my own briefcase and the rest is history.

My point is that I never let it cross my mind that I wouldn't or shouldn't be paid the same because I was always told I was as good or better than anyone else in my profession.  Not ANY male in my profession, but ANYONE else.  Not ANY white person but ANYONE else.  So, I never considered gender, race, sexual preference, origin etc.  I was always competing on skills.  (back to climbing trees)

But, not everyone has my lens and experiences in the workplace and as a kid growing up.  Not everyone is as assertive (ok aggressive) as I am.  So, perhaps I have to rethink my position on this....maybe.

Or...maybe some women need to just climb a few trees......


Michael D. Haberman, SPHR said...

Even though I did not wear dresses when I climbed trees (would have been inappropriate and I would have gotten alot more crap than you would have) I was raised with a similar attitude. I was taught not to be a "vicitm." My dad taught me to change the circumstances if I did not like the situation I was in. So to this day I have a hard time accepting "victim" mentality.

And I think some of the "crying" about inequitible pay is tied up in victim mentality.

Unknown said...


Good to hear you didn't wear dresses. I think we could ask the same question of people who have the c=victim mentality. What happened in their live/workplace experiences that got them where they are. I am just trying to explore all sides of the discussion. Thanks so much for your input!


Unknown said...

As you say, " there is so much compensation data available, you can find out what you are worth pretty easily" the government doesn't need to create an act fix a non-issue. Business as well as employees do a pretty good job of keeping things even.

Unknown said...


Thanks for commenting and reading. I appreciate it.