Women still earn less than men for the same job. A NY Times article highlights the pay disparity is not because women choose fields that pay less. Perhaps it is the expectation that women will leave the work force once they have a child and therefore it does not make economical sense to invest in them. Or as Sheryl Sandberg reminds us, women are less likely to negotiate as aggressively for raises and perks.
A graduate of a women’s college, I was taught that these differences should not exist nor be tolerated. In several of my business dealings, older male colleagues have patronized me. One restauranteur put his arm around me and reminded me that he has been in the business for over twenty years and he knows what he is doing. And yet the plumber tells me what he is doing is not sufficient given the tender age of the building and its plumbing equipment. I smile and nod, let out some comment that he will have to cope with the ramifications should the mechanics backfire because of neglect.
Is this what the owner, a man old enough to be my grandfather – or at least Great Uncle, needs to say to maintain his ego. My mom would say let it slide. The younger me would not; perhaps I’d equate his condescending tone with a polite tap on my ass or reference to an equally inappropriate irrelevant issue. The current me agrees with my mom. No need to engage in a fruitless contentious discussion. And the best revenge, I communicate directly with his son, the real owner of the business.
In these situations, I may let some comments slide, but I continue to stand my ground, channel my mom and be a strong business woman who is not intimidated by male colleagues. Amy Cuddy advises striking a power pose to fake it til you make it. And so I try. I pretend. And I refuse to be a statistic.