Princess Bride and (less than) the royal treatment

By InformHer Staff Writer

“Mawwiage. Mawwiage is what bwings us togethew today.”

 

But Princess Bride, is marriage really bringing all of us together?

When it comes to salary and income earnings, marriage helps men a lot more than it helps women, according to Claudia Geist’s 2006 article titled “Payoff or Penalty? A Comparison of the Marriage Wage Differential for Men and Women across 15 Nations.”

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Her examination of the hourly wages of married and unmarried men and women, between the ages 25 and 55, revealed something interesting, and a little upsetting. Men in the 15 countries studied (including the United States) earn noticeably more when they are married than when unmarried. On the other hand, women earn about the same as they would married or unmarried in a majority of the countries examined. Geist explains that this may be because of the types of jobs married women work, and the consistency of the cross-cultural belief that men are breadwinners. Further research is needed to confirm if this data is evidence of either of those claims.

“Chin-up, Buttercup,” because this study does not mean that women will suddenly be payed less at their job when they get married. Instead, the marriage wage gap points to a few likely problems, for example the harmful social pressure on men to be the breadwinner in a partnership.  Finally, this also illustrates how women’s work is undervalued and confirms that women’s potential for wage-earning is less than men’s.

Wait, women have a lower earning potential? 

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If this sounds sexist to you, it’s because it is. Women’s work is generally undervalued in comparison to men’s due to the fact that women make up the majority of the care-work workforce (think nurses, day care workers, maids, stay at home moms). Care workers do not receive comparable (or even adequate) pay. The solution is not to avoid being a careworker yourself, but to value care work and care workers, and to shape the dialogue that surrounds care work in a more positive way. Other factors that could explain why women earn less may be their negotiation ability and the amount of work they must take on at home.

The pay gap for married women is widespread, with numerous problematic causes, and numerous solutions. “Hello, my name is Inigo Montoya, you killed my father, now prepare to” forget about discovering a one-size fits all solution to this problem. Instead, we need to wholistically re-evaluate the roles of women in our workforce and the value we place on care work in our culture if we want to ever close the marriage pay gap.

I see London, I see France, I see…

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Me in France in fall of 2016, gracefully walking myself away from all of that gender inequality nonsense.

By Eliana Huffman

I see London, I see France, I see gender inequality all over the darn workplace. Case in point? At one French company in particular that I’m going analyze for you for the next 500 words.

Lady boss researchers Cécile Guillaume and Sophie Pochic interviewed 60 people, of either top management positions or ranked as “top potential”, within a large French company on the issue of women’s ability to access top positions and corporate diversity in general. They combined  interviews with secondary informationHR and workplace statistics provided by the company’s private databasefor analysis.

In short, the researchers confirmed that the glass ceiling is very real; women who worked at the company faced a whole lot of barriers to success that men didn’t. Some of the biggest ones? Promotions later in their tenure with the company than men, little support for employees who chose to raise a family (tackling child care and family work is a role that is usually socially prescribed to women), and being considered less educated for attending liberal arts schools even if the subjects were functionally transferrablefor example, being frowned upon for having a B.A. in Public Relations even if a B.B.A. in Marketing would produce a nearly identical skillset.

Additionally, almost double the amount of women as men in the company were partnered with someone who also worked for the organization. Those women consistently held lower rankings in the organization than their spouse, and did more family work at home. So in the wise words of Billy Rae Cyruswhat to heck? This implied that the organizational climate was more favorable towards men, even plucked from a partnership where both spouses worked full-time professionally, and obviously had the same socioeconomic status.

Now let’s talk about what this means for us. What can we do to stop organizations like this one from hindering women so much? And what is the greater impact that we can have for gender equality long-term?

We can start with paid family leave policies. Paid family leave has been proven to reduce the wage gap, help women be more productive at work, and boost their salaries in the long run.

And with this knowledge, how can men do their part to reduce the wage gap and make the workplace more friendly towards women? Well, easily enough, they can do the laundry, be there to take dinner out of the oven, change diapers or pick up around the house. All of these things reduce the amount of time women have to spend on housework and plus, contributing equally like this might increase men’s own relationship satisfaction and benefit them, too.

We can also vouch for greater HR training to teach recruiters the skill sets that different degrees and institutions of learning bring to the table, and spread information about the financial, and organizational, benefits of having people with great soft skills/feminine communication styles in the office.

So yeah, there’s London…there’s France…and do I see a beaconing horizon of hope over in there in the distance? Yep, that is definitely a beaconing horizon of hope. Let’s figure out how to get a little closer.

Endless Cycle

By Erika Harrington

When it comes to wage gaps, and the success of professional women, it’s easy to play the blame game. “It’s hyper-masculinity in the business world that makes work a toxic environment for women.” “It’s that women choose to have children and stay home with the family.” “Men are threatened by strong women.” “Women’s hormones make them too emotional to make big decisions.”

Enough.

The fact of the matter is that no one’s to blame, and yet we’re all to blame. Confused? Read on.

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There are decades worth of elaborate research on the presence of (and lack thereof) women in professional executive positions. And with all this research comes a Frito-Lay’s Variety pack of conclusions on who’s at fault for the issue. Trying to get through this chaos of explanations and figure out what’s really going on would be a major headache. Lucky for us, Ellen Ernst Kossek, Rong Su, Lusi Wu bore the burden for us. They basically went through the many (and I mean many) studies that have been done on the topic and pulled out some themes so the rest of us can get the overview.

“However, simply because women spend more energy on their families than men, this doesn’t mean that women want to  spend more energy on their families than their job.”

They found that here are many different factors that keep women from executive suites and we can all do a little more to make sure representation improves in board rooms.

Factors that keep top leadership positions from being equal are things like individual decisions of women, organizational climates, and role expectations. While our culture expects more of  women when it comes to home responsibilities and family, women also tend to opt out of work to spend more time with children than men. However, simply because women spend more energy on their families than men, this doesn’t mean that women want to  spend more energy on their families than their job.

This is why the climate of organizations also contributes to gender inequalities. The research indicates that many employers and organizations don’t offer helpful work-life balance resources. Child care options that promote flexibility and better paid leave will help women to meet the professional goals that are important to them. It also crucial to remember that work-life balance isn’t a women’s issue, and describing it as one perpetuates stereotypes. The professional world needs to make sure work-life balance resources are offered to men and known about by men. This will promote a culture in which men share home responsibilities and are given the chance to spend the time with their families that they may have not been able to enjoy before.

Employers need to be more conscious of their practices that are making it difficult for women to thrive. This can be done using anonymous surveys, hiring an organizational change specialist, hosting a focus group, and more—anything that encourages employees to report what they’d actually need to succeed with their organization.

Organizations can also help be more inclusive by making the workplace an environment that supports female identities. Kossek, Su, and Wu found that research indicates women tend to choose fields that allow them to work with people instead of fields that force them to compete against people. Instead of these fields arguing that women should adapt to competitive natures of the job, they should be more open to potential benefits of collaboration in the field—because finding life-saving cures in the STEM field or growing a multi-million corporation doesn’t have to have a ‘Hunger Games’-esque climate.

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Employers also need to adjust what they define as commitment to work. Research again suggest that long hours and face-to-face work are valued over flexibility and telecommuting. But the latter allows employees to have better work-life balance and should be seen as just as hard working. To be fair, we could chalk this up to old assumptions about the way things “ought to be”—but these old assumptions can often be gendered. We all—men and women—need to recognize that we buy into these assumptions, we uphold stereotypes and create bias. Acknowledge it and fight any knee-jerk reactions to perpetuate it.

Okay, so that may have seemed like a long “brief” overview. I warned you that looking at the many causes of the lack of women at the top was going to be tough. But what isn’t tough is making the decision to address these problems. Taking the simple steps mentioned before can make all the difference.

Addressing all the factors of this issue can be messy but doing it is the only way to clean up the gender gap. We are all capable of taking at least minor steps to address bias in the boardroom, and it starts with you.

Man vans and dinnertime plans: family work and the wage gap

By Eliana Huffman

“I call it house work

‘Cause it’s life work

But I’m gonna throw shade

If I don’t get paid for this house work”

Jax Jones may be onto something here. In 2000, researchers Barbara Arrighi and David Maume found that women who do more “housework” than their husbands (after their professional days end) make proportionally less money than men who do more “housework” than their wives. Crazy, right?

The researchers discovered this by creating a survey (completed by 385 men) that considered the following three factors the most important in determining how spouses split up family work: available time, gender-role attitudes, and power dynamics. But before we continue, it’s important to note that all of these factors influence each other, and can’t be weighed without this context.

The major takeaways? When men feel that they’re subordinated or feminized in their professional jobs, they retaliate at home and don’t contribute as much to what they consider “feminine” household tasks: think cooking, cleaning, etc. Weirdly enough, women picking up more hours at work also didn’t increase the amount of family work that their respective husbands contributed—and in the reverse situation, when men picked up hours at their jobs, their wives yet again were the spouses that took on more family work.

Basically, in every scenario they studied, men either contributed the same amount of “housework” that they did before, or even less, regardless of the woman’s professional commitments. Still with me here?

Here’s the big kicker; with this information, the researchers determined that men not contributing equally to shared household tasks is a huge factor in the wage gap, and that women are held back in their careers because of it.

Why? When women are overwhelmed at home with family tasks, they lack the energy and confidence that males (who have female partners picking up the slack) have to seek promotions, ask for raises, and generally advance themselves in their careers. Further, women who report that they expected their husbands to contribute moreand don’t have these expectations metalso rank their marriages as less satisfying and more distressing than women who expect less. As a result, tensions like these led to many dissatisfied women simply quitting work, which decreases marital tension but decrease their experience and tenure—and all of the professional and financial advancements that come with them. 

So what is a woman to do when she’s feeling stressed both at home and at work, with less support from her partner than she deserves in an equal and healthy partnership?

article-2695134-1fb4024500000578-653_634x766I wish I could tell you there’s a simple solution, but there’s not. Communicating to your partner that you’re feeling overwhelmed and believe you should work on dividing family tasks equally is a start. And if you’re not already in a committed relationship, don’t commit to a person who hasn’t demonstrated an ability to share housework; Sheryl Sandberg says that picking your partner is one of the most important decisions a woman makes.

But this is a larger social issue, where it’s hard for men to contribute to family work even when they want to, because we lack structures like guaranteed paternity leave. Policies like this would normalize men contributing more equally at home (and they have worked very well in countries like Sweden). Along the same vein, we act as if men who drive minivans or change diapers are “heroes” for “overcoming stereotypes”which would be totally cool if we praised women for these same behaviors, but we don’t. We also unfortunately judge women who try to compensate by taking off long periods of work to care for children, while accusing others of being cold or unmotherly for returning to work “too soon” after a child is born. It’s just truly hard for women to win here.

Fortunately, the situation isn’t hopeless. Businesses have the power to adopt new policies that give parents more flexibility and work-life balance. The government has the power to encourage these businesses to do so. And ultimately, the people have the power to speak the heck up…and do their part.

It all starts with one man picking up a toilet bowl brush.

What makes the Red Woman unemployed?

By Ellie Miller

In 2010, when Peter Pan peanut butter was recalled, I wasn’t surprised. Peter Pan always makes me sick. Not because of fake ingredients and preservatives, but for the racism that it spouts in the movie’s infamous “What made the Red Man red?” scene. In your list of greatest Disney memories, this song probably falls pretty low. And I’d say that’s a good thing.  In this short scene, Disney captured the stereotypes that millions of Americans held about Native people. Natives were portrayed as overly sexual, stupid, and lazy. Decades later, these stereotypes still exist, one of the more prominent being the stereotype of laziness. Needless to say, that has not been very good for Native women in the workplace.

According to The American Association of University Women, in 2015, Native women made only 59 cents for every dollar a white man made. Once you pick your jaw up off the table at the shock of these numbers (I know that’s exactly what I did), you may be thinking, “I thought women make 77 cents for the male dollar.” You would be right- but that’s only if you look at white women. The severe racial discrimination that Native women experience in the workplace compared to any other groups highlights the ways racist ideas of laziness, drunkenness, and promiscuity consistently create unsafe spaces for Native women to work.

These numbers aren’t new, however. Nancy Shoemaker, in her book Negotiators of change: Historical perspectives on Native American women, explains how historically Native women have been given the lowest paid jobs. This trend stems from change resistant belief that Native people are unable to effectively participate in society.

This leads me to the thing we really need to know: These power imbalances and pay gaps didn’t happen by accident.

When colonizers first encountered Native people (the ones they mistakenly called Indians),  Native people, who happened to be more advanced than the Romans (and way less dead), were labeled as uncivilized labors with their heads and hands in the mud. The colonizers also ignored the fact that traditional Native societies  valued women’s work, and viewed Native women as protectors and bearers of life.

So in American history, we had a clash of two cultures, one that valued women’s work–more specifically, native women’s work– and one that didn’t.  I’m afraid you know how the story ends.

Sherman Indian School, 1910. Source

In order to make sure that colonizers’ ideas about work won out over native ideas, colonists ensured that the future–that is the youth–only learned colonizers’ ideas of work. They did this by removing kids from their families and culture, and sending them to boarding school. According to J.E. Simenson, in their book Making Home Work: Domesticity and Native American Assimilation in the American West, Native women were specifically taught “female occupations”, like cleaning or milking cows, while men learned industry and management techniques. This distinction set up Native women to only ever be laborers for white society.

In the face of this oppression and disavowal of work, Native women remain resilient. As culture protectors, Native women have been able to use their cultural value passed to them by their ancestors to resurrect aspects of traditional Native work. This matters not only for Native women, but for all women. Because understanding this situation historically makes it clear that our ideas about work and “the way things are” isn’t the way they have always been, and isn’t how they have to be, should be, or will be in the future.

We should know the name of Winona LaDuke who created the White Earth Land Recovery Project, which recovers traditional modes of agriculture and sustainability and reducing toxins from local farms. We should know to buy real Native earrings, not the $15 dreamcatchers hoops from Urban Outfitter- they’re probably the same price, but one supports Native women and the other child slaves in China, so you decide.

Knowing these names and this information reminds us that we can support Native women who assert the value of their ways of living and working, and we can also follow their lead by asserting the values of our own way of living and working.

 

So what made the Red Woman unemployed? Clearly the colonizer. But what made the Red Woman thrive? The answer to that is simply this: Red women.

If you enjoyed this article, feel free to comment. We love to hear what you have to say, and as always, thanks for reading The InformHer.

Negotiating your salary: it’s not just for the boys

By Rachel Garretson

We’ve heard it from every teacher, parent, and sappy teen magazine relationship columnist alike: healthy communication is the key to success. But what about when those coveted communication skills need to translate to the workplace, and no one ever taught you how?

Welp.

It turns out men generally have the advantage here. Researchers have found evidence that they attempt to negotiate salaries more often then women, and when women apply for jobs, they tend to assume negotiations aren’t even an option.

Picture1This same tendency can hurt women even more once they do land the job. Unfortunately, there are no massive neon signs conveniently posted along our professional journey telling us when we should ask for a raise. Thus, once again, we find that women are less keen on initiating these negotiations.

Here’s where women do shine, though; a study done in Chicago found that just including the words “salary negotiable” on job listings reversed the trend, and women actually negotiated more often than men. So, if it isn’t listed in the job offer, look online, or work with the vibe your potential future employer is giving off when it comes time to talk salary. If negotiations aren’t possible, they will say so, chica.

Interestingly, however, according to this study this imbalance was seen less often when the evaluator (interviewer) was a woman. In that scenario, women were just as likely as men to attempt salary negotiations. Unfortunately, we can’t choose our evaluators, can we?

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This could be because when when both genders negotiate, women still tend to walk out with the lower salary.  More research is needed on this, but part of it may have to do with women already dreading the awkwardness of being told “no”, and part of it may have to do with the techniques women use to approach negotiations in general.

In fact, studies have shown that specific beliefs women often hold can be detrimental during negotiations. For example, 83% of women surveyed subscribed to the belief that it’s a company’s responsibility to determine a fair salary.

Word to the wise: unless you vouch for your own worth, not all companies are going to try to pay you more than the bare minimum. Don’t be cheap labor. Do your research, and come into your negotiations knowing the average salary for your job title. Then aim a little higher. You know you’re worth it.

On that note, don’t wait till you finally start your job to prove yourself. Negotiations are a time to lay out everything you have to offer the company. If you believe the time to start proving your worth is after the deal is done, you’re already behind.

So, to sum it all up: Stepping up to the table is not invite-only. But when you do step up, know your value beforehand and sell yourself like you’re a refreshing box of brand name Rice Krispies in a sea of Great Value imposters. You’ve got this.

If you enjoyed this article, feel free to comment. We love to hear what you have to say, and as always, thanks for reading The InformHer.