A reader writes:
Author Warren Farrell, the only man in the U.S. ever elected three times to the board of directors for the National Organization for Women in New York City, wrote this article in 2006:
After more than a decade of research for my book, Why Men Earn More, I discovered that men and women make 25 work-life choices that actually create a wage gap. Men make decisions that result in their making more money. On the other hand, women make decisions that earn them better lives (e.g., more family and friend time). But what happens when women make the same lucrative decisions typically made by men? The good news for women, at least: Women actually earn more.
"Dashed?" Yes, dashed. I'm a 37-year-old woman with a journalism degree from a top school and 19 years' experience in alt weeklies, a very specialized journo subgenre.
A few years ago, after a dozen years as a very-well-respected alt's senior editor and our editor-in-chief's right-hand gal, I began applying for editorships as they became available. I applied for a dozen; I didn't hear back once, not so much as a form letter. Then I won a national award, and immediately was being flown all over the country for interviews. In each case, I was the runner up, and in each case, they went with a (white) man who was the city editor for the local daily. Their leg up on me? They knew the market. My leg up on them? Guys who work for mainstream dailies have an absolutely ZERO understanding of the alt-weekly ethos.
In some cases I was told I didn't have enough experience (only 15 years at the time, with tons of responsibility and a track record of concrete achievements). In some cases, I was told they didn't think I'd be tough enough to fire people when warranted. Once, I was told I wasn't a good enough listener. Twice I was told I exhibited "too much confidence."
It's entirely possible I just don't interview well, and that I come across abrasively or as a know-it-all. But while there was for a while plenty of work for a workhorse like myself, I was absolutely shocked that in the 21st century, there still remained a big thick stupid glass ceiling. It really, really does exist, even in the most progressive of workforces.
The pay disparity is probably one of the reasons why middle-aged males have been so hard hit in this economy. If a company just looks at the bottom line, it will lay off the male and keep the female who both are doing the same work. It is not some perverse reverse discrimination nonsense; it is just downsizing strictly by the numbers. So I'm guessing the pay disparity will even out a bit during this recession. It will be interesting to revisit the pay disparity 10 years from now.