Cheating Women

April 01, 2008

A short while ago I wrote a blog based on the heading of an MSNBC article, “Women Share Blame for Cheating Men.” As we approach April 22, Equal Pay Day, the word cheating keeps popping up, although the context is different. In this case cheating refers to the fact women still make 23 cents less than men do for the same job, even when they have the same experience and education and other similar factors are taken into account.

People often tell me it’s not the same today as it was when women burned their bras for equity — and that salaries for men and women are now the same! When I hear this from a man, I try to distinguish assumption from knowledge on his part and answer accordingly. When I hear this from a woman … well, actually I do the same thing in preparing my answer. However, I have to consciously stop myself from taking the soapbox approach of “you should know better” and keep focused on the need to educate all women about pay equity. It’s not easy.

I wasn’t old enough to be wearing a bra — let alone burning one — during those times, but that phrase seems to be etched in people’s minds (no matter their age) when it comes to equity issues for women in today’s environment. Although simply stating the facts doesn’t seem to garner the attention needed to overcome this wage discrepancy, knowing the facts is indeed critical. AAUW’s Pay Equity Resource Kit is a great beginning.

What actions could we take today that would have the same effect that burning bras did in the past? Can there be a rallying cry for equity that would cause immediate change? Long-term advocacy obviously works, as AAUW’s history and current activities can testify. But it’s 2008 and women are still being cheated. Any ideas?

By:   |   April 01, 2008


  1. Christy Jones, CAE says:

    Speaking about the way people think…several race and gender bias studies were recently highlighted in the April 6 New York Times article , Our Racist, Sexist Selves, by Nicholas D. Kristof. [” rel=”nofollow]

    Take a moment to read the article, it does make you pause. It also highlights the need for continuing education to overcome inherent bias in people’s perceptions, so take another moment to pass the link to those you feel would enjoy having concrete resources in hand when confronting ignorance.

  2. Hello Grace,

    I didn’t mean to imply in my comment we should become a female dominant society. Diversity makes a stronger world.

    However, if I am the superior choice in a position, I should make the superior pay – regardless of my gender. My pay should be limited by me – not by the rate of men.

    Pay equity sounds limiting as a goal. I don’t want to be held back by what a man makes.

    Education combined with self-esteem, people skills and drive can open all sorts of doors.

    I think we have a similar hope – voiced in different words.


  3. Grace says:

    Interesting idea, Cynthia. But the opposite of male dominant society is not a female dominated one. That replaces one evil with another. Rather, our goal should be egalitarianism. How long will it take to be equal? That is a question that ought to be answered by how the coming generations are raised. The men that currently oppose equal pay are the brothers of women who are cheated in the work force. Likewise, men of future generations will be cheating their sisters. Education is the realm where this issue should be attacked. If we change the way young people think, the future, in turn, will be changed.

    Perhaps this is too hopeful of me…

  4. Hi Christy,

    Maybe we have set our goal too low? Instead of pay equity, perhaps we need to change the game and have women get paid what they are worth – which may be more than a man.

    Would women negotiate differently if they saw “typical pay” as just a threshold – rather than a benchmark to reach?

    Why do we have to limit our goals based on what men are making?

    Pay equity may be a logical goal – but it hasn’t been very effective for a long time. Perhaps it’s time to get outrageous – and really bring attention to helping women increase their sense of self worth to negotiate the pay they deserve?


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