Wednesday, January 2

The Pay Gap

Imagine you would be paid less than someone else, just because your name begins with 'C' (just add the first letter of your name here, okay?). Would that be fair? Would you accept that or instead do everything in your power to get justice, especially if there's a law around, saying "everyone is treated equal"?

You wouldn't accept that, especially seeing that people who have, just by coincidence, names starting with other letters, don't work harder than you or are better, but nevertheless are paid more.

But when you try to sue them, you are told, "Yes, everyone is treated equal and paid equally, too, only the quality of your work isn't up to our standards". You can't prove they're wrong, because they don't have to tell you what their standards are.

You say: "'B' (put in another letter, in case your name starts with 'B') is accomplishing less than me every day."

They say: "That doesn't matter, because 'B' is meeting our standards for higher pay and you are not."

You say: "What kind of standards are those?"

They say: "We don't have to tell you. 'B' meets them and you don't, that's enough."

And there's nothing you can do...

That's what the Pay Gap is all about. Only, instead of having the wrong name, you have the wrong gender, something you can't choose at all. As a woman you have to work harder than a man to get the same pay, essentially meaning you earn less doing the same work. But whenever you say "the law says women and men have to be treated equal and that includes pay", the bosses say "women and men are getting equal pay for equal quality". And they don't tell you what that 'equal quality' would be - although one might think it means 'having a Y chromosome'.

"Quality" is something that can't be measured with scientific or statistical means. Neither can "performance", also a well-used word in that case. The definition of "quality" and "performance" of work is up to the boss. It doesn't have to be justified and thus you can't really say "but my quality and/or performance are as good as that of the man you're paying better".

For the same amount of money a man in the same job earns within a year, a woman has to work a year and something more (you can get the exact date on which she has earned as much as the men every year on various websites, but usually it's sometime in February or March).

In addition, a woman is less likely to get into a leading position and more likely to get into a low-paid job.

Once upon a time (still after World War II in Germany, although we officially had "equality"), a woman was only allowed to work if she was either single or her husband allowed it. The husband could even end her employment without so much as telling her.

Today a woman can decide whether to work or not herself, but it's still men who in most cases decide how much she will get for it. And only women are asked whether they plan on having children (and if you say 'yes', you're less likely to get the job) or whether they have a partner (and then they'll rather give the job to a woman who's not in a relationship). If a man has a wife and children, it's often useful for getting a higher position and more money. If a woman has a husband and children, it's mostly keeping her down - because she could suddenly decide to quit the job to stay at home, because her children could get sick and so on.

The "Working Woman" still seems to be some exotic animal - or rather someone who cannot be trusted with responsibility at the workplace.

At the workplace, men and women are not treated equally. This still needs some working on.

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