Chances are, you know someone like this. The first time you meet her, she seems strong, confident, in control, with her eyes on the future and her career. She talks about injustice in the workplace, about the difficulties of being a woman in a male dominated industry. You think to yourself, this woman knows how to handle life. Why can’t more women be like her? Maybe then we can, as a first world society, finally have both genders treating each other as equals.
There is such a woman where I work – the only other woman at our company besides me. The only woman in the hierarchy, albeit she is at the bottom of The Top. For ease of writing, I’m gonna call her Amy.
Amy would talk sometimes about how much it sucks to be a woman in a man’s world. As someone who’s in that situation, I can agree with that statement with no hesitation, because of firsthand experience. Amy talked about ways guys treat us like subordinates and the various ways things are unfair. I commiserated, and I extrapolated that because she was so aware of the problems….she knew the solution.
And surely she does. But knowing and doing are two different things, and action is really what defines a person.
For the past year, Amy has done nothing but complain about the way she’s been treated at work, and has told me she thinks ALL THE MEN in out work hierarchy are sexists.
All the men? Really? This is where I jump off the bandwagon and put away my pitchfork. Yes, some offices really are oppressive; some bosses really are sexist. But I’ve worked with all the same people as Amy and have not had the same problems. I don’t think it’s them, I think it’s her wanting them to be bad people, so that the situation is out of her hands. She believes it’s sexism that keeps her from getting a raise, and the reason a certain guy at work is mean to her is because he’s sexist. My experience with the same people tells me: she has simply not asked for a raise yet, and the mean guy is just an asshole (to everyone, including men).
Survey data shows that a big reason there’s a wage gap between the sexes is because women are way less like to ask for a raise. Men take the risk and ask. If we want equality in the workplace, we women need to simply ask for it. This is something I really admire in my older sister – even if the nervousness made her sick to her stomach, she never shied away from asking for raises. And she ended up being the highest paid artist in her department, so it really works. Think about it, if you don’t ask, your boss will assume you’re happy with how things are. You can’t just wait for your boss to decide, in this recession, that everyone should automatically get raises. As the saying goes, “The squeaky wheel gets the oil.”
As a feminist who reads a lot of feminist articles, she probably already knows that women need to take initiative and ask for a raise. But all she’s done so far is complain locally and call everyone sexist behind their backs. I used to give her the benefit of the doubt but after working here for some time, she’s wrong. She’s passing blame away from herself. I like her as a person, however she needs to “man up” and ask for a raise already – especially if she’s already seriously considering leaving the job…what has she got to lose?