The other day I got an e-mail from someone who had found my blog “after searching for people that have referenced or mentioned salaries and wages.” She told me she was “part of a team of designers and researchers that put together an infographic showing why the gender wage gap continues to be a growing concern.” I responded that I was always interested in learning and understanding more, but I didn’t promise her I would spread the information any further.
Today I’ve decided to share that infographic, for reasons I’ll explain below. Click on the image to reach the original web source.
While I acknowledge that my salary struggles may have more to do with the inequity in how universities and colleges pay adjunct faculty, who do the same amount of work (or more) per credit hour as full-time faculty but often get payed ridiculously low wages, I can’t completely prove that my gender does not play a role. As a matter of fact, I know that in the past I have been paid less than my husband for similar work, despite the fact that his highest degree is an MFA and I hold both an MFA and a PhD.
But that’s not the only reason I’m sharing this.
The other day I had an interesting conversation with some of my female students. You may recall that I am teaching a course at a university in another state that is known mostly as a business school. This reputation means that the percentage of enrolled female students, though growing, is nowhere equal to the percentage of male students. When I’ve taught theatre classes of any type at other schools, the females usually outnumber the males in my courses. This differed, sometimes, in my Freshman Comp and Research Writing courses, but overall I would say that throughout my career teaching in academia I’ve taught more women than men.
In this course, Studies in Drama, 12 out of 26 students are female. That’s almost half, you argue, but it would have been a greater difference if I hadn’t scared away about 7 males on the first day of class. While there have been a few duds, overall this class has been excellent. In general, however, the women spoke more than the men throughout the course.
One of these women was checking in with me about some research she was doing on the effect of sleep deprivation on college students. (What does that have to do with theatre, you ask? That answer will have to come in a later post, when I am able to share specifics about their creative final project I mentioned a while back.) She showed me her annotated bibliography for an article entitled “Sleep Habits and Patterns of College Students: A Preliminary Study” from the Journal of American College Health. In the abstract of the article it says,
“In their sample of 191 undergraduates at a rural southern university, they found that most of the students exhibited some form of sleep disturbance and that women, in general, reported more sleep disturbances than men did.”
“That’s interesting,” I said.
“What is?” she asked.
“That women report more sleep disturbances. Do you think it’s because women feel more pressure to succeed?”
“I think it’s true at this university, at least,” she said. [Note, these might not be her exact words, but the gist of what she said.]
This led to a discussion about how women perform at this specific university. “I think we try harder because this is a business school with more men,” my student said. “We make sure we’re prepared. We take the lead in projects. We lead discussions.” Another female student agreed with her.
In my experience of this class, she’s very right. The women in this class work hard to stay ahead and compete against the males. I would add, however, that in my experience of almost any class I’ve ever taught, women almost always take the lead.
Of course there have been hard-working, outspoken males in all my classes as well (there are a few in the Studies in Drama course), but I’d say that the predominant leaders in any of my classes were female.
Is that because I am female and enjoy mentoring female students, or is it because these women were more committed toward succeeding in my classes and in school overall?
Here’s what I realized as I thought about this conversation and looked at the infographic, the only reason men get paid more is because they have a penis.
That defies logic.
All of my students in the Studies in Drama course are seniors. The majority of them will find work before they graduate in May, or continue on to graduate school. At least one of the women has already found a job, while many of the men have been going on multiple interviews. Most of them will be working in business or accounting or some related field.
Most of these women will be paid less, despite the fact that they will work harder at their jobs to prove themselves and do well.
That defies logic. It makes sense to pay a person more who:
- performs better
- has a higher degree or more training
- works harder
- takes the lead
- contributes new ideas
- has special skills that contribute to job success
It does not make sense to pay a person more who
- has a penis.
As the above infographic shows, this is an issue that should concern everybody, because the way women are treated affects every other aspect of society.
Disrespecting anyone based on gender, race, sexuality, or any other defining characteristic that is outside their realm of control, defies logic. In my opinion, glorifying and rewarding anyone based on those characteristics also defies logic.
Will we ever live in a world that realizes that a penis is really only necessary for a few biological activities and has nothing to do with a person’s ability to work, to achieve, or to lead? I certainly hope so. If not, I think it’s time for vaginas to take over.