Picture this. It’s a balmy summer afternoon and all the employees are gathered in the conference room of a multi-national company. Only a few gathered there have attended the pre-meeting meeting and are aware of the agenda of the meeting. Among them is Angela. A nearly 30-something white woman from a sub-urban background. Her moving to the big city was a big heartbreak for her old-style parents, but was her greatest ambition in life and she had finally made it. Or so she thought. What she didn’t account for was the constant, sometimes overwhelming competition that she would encounter from her male peers.
Women, that gender that is severely lacking in testosterone have been suffering silently since they successfully entered the male dominated bastion that is corporate workspace. But even here they are not spared from the laws of the jungle. The Alpha male gets the boss’ attention while women like Angela struggle to cope with their effeminate feeble voices.
Gina (Not actual name), was a very successful corporate mid-level employee in her company. She joined at a time when sexual harassment awareness was still in its nascent stages. While she herself was not a victim of this, she knew several of her friends who were.
“It was discussed in hushed tones in the the women’s restrooms,” she says. “Sometimes you could hear muffled crying from bathroom stalls.”
As she played the Snake and Ladder game of office politics and rose above the ranks through sheer willpower and ambition, she began to earn more and more respect from her male peers. For the first time in her life, after more than 12 years of working she was beginning to feel equal to the men. But that was until she got an offer at another company with a promotion to boot.
Gina did not hesitate much. After a quick discussion with her manager and a word with her husband she had more or less made up her mind. But the HR at the new company had asked her a question:”What is the compensation that you are expecting?” and Gina still didn’t have an answer for them. So she calls her old classmate, Mark Lerrenson, who had the same career progression as she had and was already in the position that Gina had got, but at a different company and 3 months sooner than her.
When she called him up to figure out what salary to ask for she was shocked at what Mark revealed to her. Even though they both started their careers at the same time, his salary was a whole 35% higher than hers.
It was at this point that everybody brings in gender pay gap. It has been one of the hot topic issue amongst feminists as well. But on closer inspection that was not the case here.
During her hiring process for her first job, when Gina was told that $xxxxx is our compensation for people with your skills, she blindly accepted it. Whereas, when Mark was presented with the same question, he bargained for another 8% increase. And that 8%, over the years has ballooned into a difference of 35%! Gina was glad that she could get a job straight out of college and did not want to ruin her chances by bargaining for a better salary. Mark, on the other hand was self-assured and went in for the kill.
The meeting is now over and Angela is fuming. “Every time I opened my mouth to speak somebody else spoke even louder. None of my points made it to the drawing board,” she fumed. This is an everyday occurrence for her. Such happenings would’t be surprising if they happened in the 90s or even early 2000s. But no, this is late 2017 we’re talking about.
There is something wrong with the way we educate girls. Somehow we don’t seem to be prioritizing their sense of independence or their ambition. Critics argue that it is boys who have been failed by the modern education system and girls are given extra care in the system.
It is high time we re-evaluated primary education since that is when a person’s idea of themselves gets established. We need to be teaching girls like Gina how to ask for what she truly deserves. We should be teaching girls like Angela how to cope in a male dominated office and not get bullied into submission. More importantly,we need to be teaching people not to bully. But teaching alone will not do. It takes a village to raise a child. Absent parents are well-known causes of a child being a bully.