“Women Don’t Get Paid Less…” Oh yeah?


Photograph by G Marchesani

Gabriella Marchesani

This is an Opinion Submission selected for publication. It reflects the views of the author.

“On this International Day of the Girl, (October 11) let us recommit to supporting every girl to develop her skills, enter the workforce on equal terms and reach her full potential.” — UN Secretary-General António Guterres

While my father is a very supportive parent and I love him endlessly, the dichotomy between both my parents is the extra job society has assigned for women. Even though both my parents are physical therapists, my mother has the extra job: being a nurturer.

This non-stop job assigned to women is often overlooked by society. I held this thought with me, as I proudly held up my poster for “Girl Up” at the club fair, with various pictures showing women empowerment and the salary discrimination of women, a couple 9th-grade boys proceeded to start making some misogynistic comments. As I encouraged these young boys to join the club, they began to say the popular phrase boys use when they are asked to support women: “I’m not a girl.”

There are hundreds of Girl Up clubs.

After their response -the first red flag- I still felt the need to make my point, based on personal experience, world news and the motto of the Girl Up club. I continued to mention various obstacles females face relating to discrimination but was interrupted with another comment:

“Women don’t get paid less. If they did, more of them would be hired instead of men. This was only [occurring] in the 50’s.”

Even though this comment was incorrect and a clear misunderstanding of the pay gap between men and women, my heart dropped, because I had thought that society was changing, at the very least on our campus.

As I thought about the wage gap, I reflected on how it had affected my mother and my own life. I could only think of the times my mother would rush to pick me up from school and take me to the doctor. My mother, a home care, physical therapist, driving from Miami Beach to Homestead, to our home, to my swim practice and always creating an idyllic[sic] for my family.

I remember the week my mother went to Brazil to see my grandfather who passed away later that same week. Even though I was only four years old I vividly remember the struggle my dad had carrying the weight of my mother’s role.

My father struggled to cook us meals, drive my brother and me back and forth, and to fulfill the emotional support which my Mom always provided. Even if a company does pay a woman and a man the same, which is often not the case, a woman’s access to top paying jobs is limited. According to the Catalyst Organization, only 16% of women make up CEO positions in the United States. The opportunities for a woman to have a leadership position are lower than they are for men. “Women held 34.1% of senior management roles in 2015-2016” (Catalyst “Statistical Overview Of Women In The Workforce”).

My mother only stopped working two days before I was born because her patients were afraid she would go into labor in their houses. If she had stopped working any sooner she’d be at risk of losing her job. Even on the verge of giving birth to a child, women are treated with disrespect.

If you, as a man, have an insight from your perspective to share on this issue, maybe you should hear us out first. Women have come a long way, granting some of the same rights as men, and society won’t fully evolve without their support. I hope the next time you buy something you realize there is no “woman discount” even with the extra expenses of a woman in a family.

How many times do you see a woman with the higher paying job in a workplace? We have the same ambition and education as men, and yet they have difficulties with working. 80% of women in the United States work for lower paying jobs, while men have higher paying executive jobs.

Women are just as voracious for knowledge and job opportunities, yet many times labeled as feckless. Is it that women don’t have the same capabilities as men? Or is it that they are not given the same chance to perform?

Editor’s Note: This opinion piece reflects the views of the writer. Relate to this story? Agree? Disagree? Post your comments or email us at [email protected]