Does the pay gap exist? Yes. However, there are many places of employment it does not exist by their own design. And, there are many women who negotiated well to get their pay.
Women entered the workforce when the need arose. Many women had no idea what they were showing up for, no prior experience in work or negotiations. Then, consider the time women started working…. was it equal? No. Many women have blazed the trails for equality and without their impact who knows where we’d be.
Today, as many women speak about wage gaps and equality I feel the balance is not there. When I say balance I am talking about both men and women. In the group of people I know, whether we are true friends or not, many are not with the other parent of some of their children. Take into consideration all separations are different just as much as places of employment too. Then, state to state there are differences.
In California we have a thing called FMLA. Family medical leave act where family can take paid and unpaid time off to care for a sick family member or themselves. In the instance I am going to use maternity leave. Almost everyone expects a women will take time off after having a child. In California the father is entitled to take 6 weeks paid time after the birth and 6 more unpaid weeks for bonding during the first year. The unpaid weeks you can use sick or vacation time if you have it. Now, this is where it gets tricky. I work for a great company who told me to take as long as I want/need. I took nearly a year off. Mostly unpaid and while financially it sucked I would do it again. My husband was able to take the first 6 weeks without a problem because he had told me about stories about what was happening to the fathers at his work who were throng to take the rest of the paid initial 6 weeks and unpaid time. I got his paperwork in order and told the doctor we needed it filled out for the full 6 weeks because he would get the time otherwise but we already had 3 children. All of which were in their own activities, schools, etc. So, the first 6 weeks was not a problem. However, any time he put in a request for a week of the remaining 12 week total for “bonding” it was denied. Not once was it ever approved. I haven’t heard of any male getting that time approved from his place of employment yet. It’s been 9 years he has worked there. Fathers are entitled to the time by the state of California but the employer can deny it. This, in and of itself, is wrong.
Time off in general for school functions of any kind. I never have trouble getting the time. In all places of employment I have never had an issue. I may have made to make accommodations but nothing really out of the ordinary. My husband, ex husband both were/are heavily frowned upon for asking to take time. They don’t even dare call in sick for a child. If the school called either my ex husband or my husbands work there would be hell to pay for having to leave to get a sick or in trouble child. I have had to take plenty of unpaid time off to cover our sick children and myself. Sometimes it has been at the most inconvenient times and my work figured it out and covered me. I know I am lucky. Shouldn’t time off for our children be equal for both parents?
Let’s talk about coming in early or staying late. Daycare starts at 6 or 7 am and ends at 6pm for most of us. I am usually the one who is unwilling to come in early. Nothing to do with child care. I say no and I’d rather just take a short lunch and stay after if need be. Guess what? It’s not frowned upon. Where my current husband works he is expected to communicate during shift change which required him to be ready at the machine before his actual shift starts or ends. This is not paid. (Another story there altogether) his place of employment regularly schedules him for 12 hour shifts and Saturdays without regard to “family”. If we have something for our Son he gets the their eye if he tries to work it out to attend. It’s really crazy. And everyone knows when I have to leave to make it in time to pick up my child and actively works to make sure I get out on time. Do we do the same thing for men? Nope, but we should.
Our male/female expectations in the work impact parents differently. Whether it be from active participation in our children’s lives at home, school, dr appointments or activities there is an impact. Usually, mothers Are the ones who attend school, doctor or activities because dad had to work. Does that mean they are bad fathers? Of course not. Should both parents be able to make accommodations with our employment to be active in our children’s lives? Of course.
Now, here is my harsh viewpoint on the pay gap. I support equal pay when and only when the position is the same, work output are equal, time and attendance are equal. So on and so forth. I really don’t care if you are male or female. If you are constantly taking unplanned time off and making the department cover for you, you deserve less than the rest who are there making “it” happen. It does not matter what your gender is. Typically, in my 30 years of working…. it’s been me fellow woman, absent, unplanned, regularly interfering with consistent workflow and causing the rest of the team to work harder and expecting to be paid the same!? Nope. This is where I, as a manager, was grateful for reviews to include time and attendance. It means so much more than if you get paid for that time. I am all for taking time off as a parent. Schedule it. Plan it. Get paid for your contribution. If everyone did this maybe the workplace and life balance would head in the right direction for everyone.
I don’t believe everyone’s situation is the same. I think some men are underpaid and some some women are overpaid. What I do know is that until the work-life balance for men and women are the same in he workplace and in the family the harmony will not exist.
The other piece to this is negotiation. As a hiring manager in comparing negotiations between men and women. This is a man area of improvement. You get what you ask for. If you don’t ask you won’t get. Don’t be ridiculous in what you ask for but the worst you can get is a no for an answer.
Where is all of this leading…. family court. Until the expectations, allowances, perceptions and many other things really truly change the balance will not be there. All too often we hear in family court that the Mother has been the “sole” provider for the child. The Mother May or may not have worked but still attends the school functions/appointments, Doctor appointments and activities is a common statement being tossed around family court like we are the only parent capable of caring for our child. In reality, our workplace expectations dictate this to some degree. Social acceptance to some degree? I think so.
In my opinion, women, if you want equal pay then you must support equal rights for parents. This means shared custody. This means eliminating the expectation his money is still your in the form of child support.
Equal pay is dependent upon equal rights as parents.
Should anyone read this whole thing…. please do not go all FB on me. Their are certainly some situations that do not fall into this very limited scope of dialogue.