Ever get the feeling that you go through life with a sign on your back? A sign that reads: I'm a woman and am worth (valued) only 72% of the worth of a culture-defined-human being. You recognize the 28% given in the title, don't you? This is how much less you receive in wages than the comparable male.
It also stands for a lot of other things.
It determines how much less a woman may have to invest; how much less she may save toward her retirement; how much less she may purchase; it determines her living standard and most distressful of all, how she may feel about herself -- if she allows the culture to determine her self worth.
Think about it! Use your own terms and points of reference. If you are married and filing a joint tax return, your income is taxed higher than his. Compare how much time you spend on your "outside-the-home" job with how much time you are expected to do "free work" inside your home.
Which gender does our culture hold responsible for the behavior and welfare of the children in your home? What benefits accrue to women who stay at home, keep house and devote themselves to raising children? Our culture professes to honor women for doing this. Is it a hollow honor? Do these women get tax breaks? Extra insurance benefits? Medals or golden crowns? If women are worth so much less, how can we trust them to bring up children? Several recent surveys agree that women spend about 9 hours a week with their children while men spend about 2-1/2 hours a week. [liznote] These child/parent times for each gender have remained constant for years.
Some women may cite personal satisfaction as a reason for not working outside of their home and this may be a valid argument, but you cannot take that to the bank. Like it or not our culture values our citizens in $$$$$$$, not deeds.
Many times one hears a male C.E.O. state how important his staff is. We assume that this includes his women staff that he values 28% less than his male staff. Is there some compensation here that we are not seeing? Are women expected to work only 72% of an eight hour day? Does a typist, for example, type only 72% of a letter? A salesperson make only 72% of a sale? If a mistake is made, do women get only 72% of the blame?
Does a woman doctor or veterinarian complete only 72% of a patient examination or do just 72% of an operation? Do we see women lawyers stopping a case in court when they have completed 72% of it?
Fact is that most women put in more time on the job then most men. Just look in any office and see who is doing the work and who is standing around the water cooler or walking the halls. Anytime there is an office crisis, it is mostly the women who work through the coffee breaks and the lunch hour. We also note that even those women with a cooperative partner are expected to, and do, start their second job of the day when they return home after the day's paid labor where many have already put in the required 8 hours and then some.
Our culture defends this by claiming that if a woman wants both children and career, she must sacrifice. She must also oblige by taking on 200% of the guilt for ostensibly neglecting the children. Although women who work outside the home are given days off to celebrate male holidays, there is still no such homage given to any woman even though there have been women who merit such honors.
There's a reason that most cases of sexual harassment in the workplace are perpetrated by men. Women are just to damned busy. We started out having to work twice as hard to get half as much salary as a man and "Baby, we haven't come a long way from that."
Volunteer work is still mostly done by women although more men are entering this activity. Women have made a great start by exhibiting their political savvy and muscle at the polls thereby creating the gender gap. There is more to do. Women not only must change their own concept of themselves but also change the concept of the rest of the world.
They will do this when they demand that they be identified as a different "gender" from men -- not a different (or lesser) "species!"
Copyright 1997 Renee T. Louise and Ruth M. Sprague, Ph.D. These articles may be republished for noncommercial use only, provided that they are copied intact, and that this copyright notice is attached. Address all queries to: TWANDA@ConnRiver.net.
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