The wage gap between men and women is a well-documented fact. But new research shows this gap is attributed in part to the way women are perceived in the workplace. This study showed that when managers knew they could blame the company’s financial position for their pay decisions, they were more likely to give women smaller raises than men. It was said that women may be more readily appeased by this excuse than men. Findings from an experiment of 184 male and female managers with an average of 13.5 years of experience gave 71% of the money available for raises to men and only allocated 29% of the money for women. Some of this disparity was blamed on the differences in men’s and women’s willingness or skill in negotiating pay. But if you are giving 71% of the money to men, why would they need to negotiate?
It also showed that managers who gave women explanations or excuses for smaller raises felt they were treating women fairly because they could explain the differences. When managers could not explain their decisions, they gave equal raises to men and women. It is amazing how little we have progressed in the last 100 years. How much longer are we going to allow ourselves to be discriminated against? Why are we doing the same jobs with less pay? Why are we settling for less?
As the Olympic games come to an end we can look back and see the accomplishments made by women. But what did we really accomplish? Gabby Douglas was the first African-American to win the gymnastic all around gold medal as well as the gold for the USA gymnastics team. But all we heard about was her hair. The two women from Saudi Arabia were the first women to participate in the Olympics. But they were called #prostituteoftheOlympics on Twitter even before competing. Allison Schmitt won a gold medal for swimming but was criticized for not being sexy enough and Lolo Jones was criticized for being too sexy. Lolo blamed this kind of talk for her lack luster performance in the Olympics. Serena Williams won two gold medals in the Olympics for tennis, having won the most Golden Grand Slams, man or women in both singles and doubles. But all they could talk about was her “crip walk” victory dance. I read an article in the New York Times where the writer said, “Hey, girls, you can play, but only under these rules”:
- Be pretty, but not too pretty
- Celebrate but only in approved ways
- And by all means, when breaking down huge color barriers, make sure your hair is styled in a way that is pleasing to everybody
And women, let’s stop being our own worst enemy by contributing to the double standards in the Olympics. We should be looking at accomplishments of women in the Olympics, not their hair, clothes and looks. If we don’t support one another, how can we expect to get the respect we deserve? When we stand by and allow the criticism of these women we are creating discrimination for women everywhere. So let’s go get the gold but don’t forget the respect.