As I was driving in the car yesterday, the Eurythmics’ version of the song, “Sisters are doin’ it for themselves” was playing on the radio. It was such an anthem for me as I was growing up (yes, 80’s child!). As I listened, enjoying the flashback and singing along as I drove, I realised this song was part of my journey.
I first heard the Eurythmics’ version when we were staying at my (older) cousin’s place, and watched with awe and admiration as my female cousins sang along with gusto and passion. At that point in my life, I probably simply liked the music but unconsciously I was absorbing the message – that as a woman, I could make my own way in the world and I could do anything I wanted. As a seven or eight year old girl, that was an awesome message to be given.
Listening to it again as an adult yesterday, it got me to thinking about whether that message I had absorbed as child had actually come into fruition in my adult life. And for the most part, I am happy to say that it has.
But, not all that long ago, (okay, about a decade) I was working in the corporate world. Great pay, excellent opportunities for growth and development, but ridiculously long hours. But I gave everything I had to the job, so felt I was getting well rewarded for my endeavors, with both recognition in the form of glowing performance reviews and a salary that I felt happy with.
A number of months into my new posting, a senior (male) manager accidentally let slip how much the person who had performed the role before me was getting paid when they did the job. It was a big difference; a massive difference. To say I was disappointed when I found out that my salary was $50,000 below the male employee who had done the role before me does not do it justice.
I was livid! Furious, hurt and fired up! How dare they?! I felt indignant and mentally planned all the brilliant points I would make when I spoke to my boss about it. It was the 21st century after all, and I felt sure that equal work surely equated to equal pay, especially when I was working for a large, publicly listed company.
Fast forward to now, and that is water under the bridge as they say. But I wonder if there has been significant progress in pay equality over the last ten years?
Perhaps, as certainly isolated pockets or individuals achieve gender equality and pay parity, but for the majority of women I suspect it is not the case. And yes, there are lots of ‘reasons’ provided as to why women are not paid as much, or do not earn as much as men. I’ve heard them – I worked in HR for nearly twenty years remember? But I feel they miss the vital point.
Sisters can no longer be ‘doin’ it themselves’ – we need the support of everyone, yes men too, to make it gender equality happen.
For most of us, we give paid work a LOT of our time and energy. We spend hours each day and week, working to earn money so we can pay the mortgage, feed and clothe ourselves and our families, and live our life. Feeling that despite our huge efforts we are paid as second best is downright insulting. I don't want that for any woman, or for any girl.
This is something we all care about; for ourselves, for our children (of both genders) and for other women. As a mother of sons, I want to raise them to know that women are just as capable as men (sometimes more so!), just as important as men and have a right to be treated as equals, in all matters including pay.
This is another reason why I am passionate about helping women find the hope, joy and love in their lives. Our day-to-day can be tough enough as it is - let's come together as a community, where sister's are not doin' it by themselves; we are in it together. Let's stand together so that all women can live a life filled with joy, hope and love.
Join me on my Facebook site - JoyHopeLoveRM where are continuing this conversation.