| illustration by Charles Marsh | This column is a preview for next month’s feature comparing women’s salaries against men’s salaries in the local workplace. Of course we often hear quite a bit about this subject nationally as well. But if you would have told me back in 1999 that we’d still be talking about the differences in pay between the genders, I would have thought, “Wow. What a boring conversation.” Then I would have probably switched bar stools.
But addressing the subject of equal pay for men and women didn’t actually get legs until around World War II. Before then, it was assumed that most women should just get married and raise children. And men, of course, assumed that when he married a woman, it was supposed to last forever. It was kind of like getting a tattoo that yells at you.
However, because of the large number of women taking jobs to help the war effort, the National Labor Board suggested that employers voluntarily make adjustments that equalize salary rates paid to females with the rates paid to males for comparable quality and quantity of work on similar operations.
Well, unfortunately, a number of the employers didn’t pay much attention to that suggestion. When the war was over, most of the women were pushed out of their jobs to make room for returning veterans. Even in the 1950s, I can still remember the job listings in the newspapers were categorized by gender. Salaries being offered for identical work were almost always lower for women. Then, in 1963, the passage of the Equal Pay Act made it illegal to pay women less for the same job based strictly on their sex. Since then, critics admit that the wage gap has narrowed; however, they believe it’s still significant. I think I know one of the reasons, and there’s something we can do about it.
I read somewhere that many women nearing retirement age are factored into this wage gap equation, and many feel they are still subject to the attitudes of the past. They rarely question the amount of money they are being paid. So if you happen to be working with somebody that has a name like Maude, Agatha, Birdie or Gladys, make sure they’re getting a fair shake.
Men also need to share with women the three things that only we know that will definitely save some of the money they earn.
1) Gourmet cat food is the same as regular cat food.
2) Louis Vuitton handbags have never made us like you more.
3) Car mechanics always tell men the truth.
Some analysts say that based on the current trajectory, the pay gap won’t disappear until the year 2056. I don’t know about that, but I do know that most of the younger women are now making as much as their male peers. That’s good news, but men need to realize that this has also changed the dynamics of relationships. Women not only want equal treatment at work, they want equal treatment in dating too. For instance, some will think it’s chauvinistic if you always insist on paying the dinner bill. So here’s a guide for men to follow: If you invite her to dine, you pay the bill. If she invites you to dine, you should offer to pay the bill, but let her go ahead. However, if she insists on always paying the bill, marry her.