Do I really have to put on my “good girl” face if I want to be treated fairly by employers rather than just having a straightforward conversation about why I, as a woman, am deserving of equal pay for equal work?
According to a recent report, it looks like assuming that I’ll get paid the same as men for the same job is something for my own “Mighty List.”
I was initially excited by a recent New York Times headline, A Toolkit for Women Seeking a Raise. But as is often the case, the article didn’t live up to its billing. Sure, it was chock full of ideas on how women could get more money, but after reading it, I felt demeaned, disillusioned and downright annoyed!
In essence, the message of a recent Harvard study was that if women want equal pay for equal work we can’t ask for it the same way a man would — we have to craft our requests with an eye toward not damaging relationships or being seen as putting ourselves first instead of our employers. We have to make sure we send something of a softer message than our male counterparts might if we just want to get a few more bucks in our paychecks because no one likes a woman who asks for what she deserves. We have to come across as the “good girl” to even make it past the beginning conversation.
We’re half the work force and over half the population, and women are still at a point where we have to act not as accomplished and valued employees, but as pre-teens crafting a strategy for an increased allowance?
What if we just did something really simple like, say, I don’t know — pay people the same salaries for the same work as a matter of course? Or, even crazier, have some transparency in how much money people make for certain jobs and the qualifications that have to be met to be promoted. We could cut out all the whispering and gender games, get on with work and save the wiliness for when we’re trying to convince our kids that it’ll really be fun to learn how to do the laundry!
My fourth-grader is a good girl, and that’s appropriate for a ten-year-old — she’s respectful of adults and she’s a pro with her “please” and “thank you’s.” But I’ve spent enough of my professional life having to do the good girl/soft sell act when it comes to trying to make sure I get paid the same as men and that I am considered for professional advancement opportunities. I don’t want to do it anymore. And I really don’t want to hear about any more women who’ve had to do it, only to learn, like thousands of women at Novartis, that all that workplace Venus and Mars stuff didn’t make a bit of difference. (I wish I could believe that even $250 million in punitive damages will change the kind of discrimination thousands of women faced there everyday).
At this stage of my life, I should only have to worry about the “good girl” thing when I’m praising by fourth-grader for doing her homework without much prompting.