I was born into a middle class family and lived in a modest home with working parents. Both my father and mother chose career paths typical for their gender in the 1970s. My father was a police officer and my mother, a nurse. Born at a time and in a country where everything was at my fingertips, I was taught I could be, do or have anything I wanted. With the wind at my back, I pursued my education, traveled, and secured a rewarding career. Encouraged to define my future and pursue my heart’s desires, I took responsibility for my own decisions and blamed no one. I never felt oppressed by “the man,” nor did I feel less valued than a male counterpart. Hence, you will not find me singling out the wage gap as the source of woman’s subjection, not when I can look to Patricia Mooradian, CEO of The Henry Ford, Dr. Gail Mee, President of Henry Ford Community College or Donna Inch, CEO of Ford Land for inspiration. Opportunities know no bounds for women in the workforce today; these three women are great examples.
So, let’s examine this hot button topic; the wage gap. It’s highly unlikely employers are going to give women across the nation a 23% wage increase to make nice. It’s not practical and it’s not financially prudent. What do these employers look like? Well, they look like women. According to Forbes, 2012 was a record setting year as 17 women held the CEO position of Fortune 500 companies including IBM, Pepsi and Kraft. In addition, women own over 8 million businesses, employing nearly as many while generating $1.3 trillion in annual revenue. This tells that in some instances women are at the helm of the wage differential. The good news is that statistics show that in the past 50 years, women have closed the gap, likely through education. And only through education will we continue to close that gap. In Liza Monday’s new book, “The Richer Sex,” she cites women receive roughly three-fifths of both bachelors and masters degrees from American colleges and universities. By the year 2050, she points out, demographers forecast there will be 140 college educated women for every 100 college educated men. It’s statistics like these that will organically drive change.
Monday also cites new research that shows in U.S. cities single women in their 20’s without children on average make more than men. The next generation of women in America will stand to make more than their male counterparts across all levels of employment. In addition, almost 40% of working wives out-earn their husbands. As time progresses, we will find that not only will the wage gap come to a close, but so will the conversation.
Where are we now? In 49 of the last 50 months, unemployment was lower for women than men according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The National Journal Heartland Monitor Group is reporting that three-fourths of women say they believe they can now advance as far as their talents will take them regardless of their gender. And nearly as many report that they have not experienced discrimination at all in the workplace.
This trend did not start 3 ½ years ago. It started when my mother entered the workforce. Now holding a high ranking role with a major health care institution, my mother didn’t chide her way to the top, she earned it. She paved the way for future generations. There is not a war on my gender, only my intelligence. To suggest that the only political issues of importance to me is the wage gap and contraception is insulting. My friends and I are interested in the economy, job creation, taxes, foreign policy, gas prices and the future of public education. My political affiliation doesn’t treat me as a gender, but as an educated professional.
From the desk of:
Jennifer Knott Giering
Dearborn Chamber of Commerce