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male-and-female-symbolsI can’t believe it’s 2013 and we’re still talking about the role of women in the workplace. Obviously, there’s a problem or this discussion wouldn’t continue. The problem is few women in leadership positions and a persistent gender pay gap.

The solution isn’t that women make changes.

I’m fed up with women telling women how to get ahead. Ursula Burns advises us to marry men 20 years older. Sheryl Sandberg asks us to lean in (whatever that means) and ask for raises. Some lady tells us to find Mr. Right while in college.


The solution isn’t to make women “fit in” to a man’s world. Sure, women can do more to step up to the plate, as Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand encourages in her Off the Sidelines organization. But I rarely hear women suggest that men, particularly men in leadership positions, stop discriminating against women in the workplace.

“I don’t discriminate. I pay my female employees the same as my male employees. In fact, I have one female worker I pay more because she does a better job!”

“I have a female boss!”

We can all find anecdotal evidence disproving discrimination in a particular workplace. This is an institutional, systemic issue. Study after study shows women get paid less than men in the exact same positions, even after adjusting for maternity leave and experience. This even applies to CEOs. It’s very hard for women to fight back without knowing what their male counterparts earn or filing lawsuits. It’s very hard for women to fight back when their bosses – the people they rely on to keep them employed – are mostly men.

Ms. Sandberg, what happens when women ask for a raise and the answer is no? This empowerment stuff only goes so far.

If women want to fix this, we have to stop only talking to each other and start talking to men. Male coworkers, male bosses, husbands, fathers, sons, and brothers. As long we we relegate the discussion to women’s networking events and in special women’s sections of the newspaper, we will continue to be treated like “an other” and not an equal.

Links of the Day:

– The New York Times profiled Syracuse Mayor Stephanie Miner, who’s become an advocate for cities after standing up to the governor.

The big gun rally in Albany in February caused $60,000 in lawn damage. I don’t have a problem with this. When large crowds gather, as we saw with the Occupy movement, muddy lawns get stirred up. It’s the price of our right to free assembly on public property.

– The NRA is trying hard to kill gun control legislation in Congress and appears to be succeeding. The group wants to make the government have to prove straw purchasers knew the person they gave the gun to wasn’t allowed to have weapons. Under that scenario, Dawn Nguyen, the woman accused of buying a gun for William Spengler, could more easily get off.

– Canadian investors are flocking to Niagara Falls – New York.

– Central New York’s rural residents complain of slow, spotty Internet service. Tax dollars spent on infrastructure is the likely solution.

Syracuse finally has a food truck scene. The regulations don’t seem as onerous as in Rochester.

“For a gorilla, she had had quite a life.”

– A Democratic state senator was arrested in an alleged bribery plot, accused of trying to get Republicans to let him on their line on the mayoral ballot.


15 Responses to Women, Start Talking to Men

  1. When the answer is “no” you negotiate or find a new job. Do you think men automatically get raises?

    • April 2, 2013 at 11:44 am Rachel Barnhart responds:

      I knew someone would say that. If a problem is systemic, job jumping isn’t the solution. Furthermore, since when is it so easy to just find another job?

      • I know it sounds like a pat, stereotypical answer, but there is truth in zrc’s response. I’ve made job offers to around 20 candidates in IT jobs, around half of who were women. Not a single one of the women ever tried to negotiate a higher salary or additional benefits, while all but one or two of the men came back with a counter-offer. These were not entry-level positions, so it’s not simply a case of a fresh-from-college newbie who isn’t aware that an offer is only the first step in the hiring dance. I tend to prefer assertive candidates, so it’s not a case of simple bashfulness or IT people having less than steller social skills, either.

        So at the very least, my anecdotal experience in an admittedly limited domain leads me to believe that at the very least we need to better communicate just how the employment process currently works – you don’t just accept what the employer is offering, because it will ALWAYS lean towards their desire for maximum gain for the minimum cost .

  2. It’s not easy for anyone. Work also isn’t fair. Men generally accept this and don’t care what other men make, just their own salary. You wanted to talk to men…

  3. Women are too busy gossiping and hating each other at work to move up the ladder. Every job I have ever had the drama from most women made it a miserable place to work. Now I work with mostly men in IT and its a wonderful place to work. Women need to just go to work and do work, not worry about the others around them. That will get them promoted. Rachel you do not fit that mold as you think more like a man than most women I know, but yourself in most womens shoes. The story is very different. Unfortunately you might be grouped into the generalization just because you are a female.

  4. April 2, 2013 at 1:01 pm theodore e kumlander responds:

    the issue of empowering women is a bit like the race issue, if white men are left out of the loop or hated. then it is only natural nothing will change.

    There are plenty of men like me who believe if women ran the world it would be a much better place for everyone.

    unfortunately because we live in culture of war and violence, confrontation instead of cooperation is the American way.

  5. The problem is, when women assert themselves and start tough negotiating, they risk being thought of as ball-busting bitches. There’s still a lot of social pressure on women to be pleasing and deferential. Men don’t have those same expectations of them.

  6. Last sentence should be “on them.”

    • April 2, 2013 at 4:44 pm Ginny Maier responds:

      If every woman is a “ball busting bitch,” none of them are. Know what I mean? This is why empowering women to stand up against this is still an important strategy.

  7. April 2, 2013 at 3:05 pm Graves responds:

    Read this NY times article, with some interesting information on the success of women in schools.


  8. April 2, 2013 at 8:58 pm Orielly responds:

    Wait a few years and far more women will have degrees in the workplace over men. The numbers discrepancies between women earning degrees vs men both Bachelor’s or post-grad degrees are growing wider every year.

    What will the outcome of the education discrepancies be? Women are on the cusp of blowing by men in income… but hey lets complain while we still can.

  9. This isn’t a problem in union shops, but let’s keep up the fight against unions

  10. There is an old saying….the squeaky wheel gets the grease. According to the urban dictionary,
    It means that if you bitch loud enough, you’ll eventually get your way. Is that what this is all about? From my observations, I see women everywhere. In our area, we have a female County Executive, a female DA with an office with mostly female assistant DAs, a female Senator, a female congresswoman, female Judges, female school superintendents, MCC president is female, and on and on. This subject is a little over the top and quite annoying. It is a generalization void of any specifics. I can assure you that men have also been denied raises, passed over for promotions, and denied opportunities. It is not a female only issue. Actually it is not an issue at all. It is called life. I encourage everyone, man or women, to get one.

  11. April 2, 2013 at 11:24 pm Maximus Super responds:

    I work for a company where there are 30 employees, and 3 are men. In 2012 I worked 1000 hours over the ‘normal & customary’ 37.5 hour week, and I’m paid for it. 1 other person is close statistically and productivity-wise. Others have their lifestle choices, and virtually never work evenings, weekends, etc. I think any gender may achieve what they wish with the proper dedication and motivation. Limitations only exist in one’s mind.

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