Fair and square?
You have the same degree, the same qualifications, equally good work attitude, so why is he paid higher?
(Image credits to: cartoonstock.com)
harsh reality but gender inequality is still very prevalent in the work force.
One clear example would be the salary difference. Men have consistently been
paid higher than women, regardless of qualifications. According to a report in
2010 on labour force in Singapore,
on average men earn SGD $2,920 monthly while women earn on
average SGD$2,500. (http://www.mom.gov.sg/statistics-publications/national-labour-market-information/publications/pages/report-labour-force-2010.aspx). Money aside, women are also constantly judged for their capabilities too.
I consider myself lucky – I work in an environment where it’s somewhat 90% female and 10% male so I have never felt this gender inequality. But most women aren’t as fortunate because some industries are known to be traditionally male-dominated. Take our story It’s (not) a man’s world (page 100) and the female prison wardens in Working behind bars (page 114) in the September issue for instance, the women we spoke to might be successful and established in their own career now, but they didn’t had it easy when they first started out.
One of them
even shared of how her subordinates didn't respect her all all and “they would doubt (her) capabilities simply
because (she's) a woman”. This really struck me hard because of how unfair and
difficult it can be for some of us.
Well, here’s the thing, gender equality isn’t something that’s going to happen overnight just because we demand for it. And it isn’t something that we can achieve simply on our own. But what we can do is to actively close the gap by proving our worth and earning the respect of the men in the workplace.
So while I might not be working in a male-dominated industry right now, here’s what I have learnt back in university when I had to lead to group of men.
1. Be brave enough to make unpopular decisions
We have been said to be wishy-washy and unable to make up our minds – don’t let this happen in the workplace. The last thing you want is to doubt your own judgement and have them doubting your capabilities too.
So don’t be afraid to make decisions if you have assessed the situation and believe that it’s the best possible option available. Let the outcome speak for itself. A good leader is someone who dares to make the right decision even when everyone else lacks the foresight to.
2. Keep your emotions at bay
We have been told that we are emotional beings and men are objective-driven. This doesn't have to be true in the workplace. The stress might be getting to you or you might be feeling upset after a bad day at work, but never ever let your emotions get the better of you at the workplace. The last thing you want is to let the men in your workplace see you crying or crumbling under pressure – you lose credibility and you end up portraying yourself as a weak damsel in distress. Keep your emotions in check and leave all the tears and frustrations at home. Looking like you have it under control all the time makes it easy to gain the respect and trust of the boys.
On a separate note, a friend was asking me if she should be worried about getting together with a guy who’s earning lesser than her and is at a lower work position than her. She’s been in a dilemma for quite a well because she was afraid that this would pose a problem should they get into a relationship.
Well, her concerns are valid but I don’t think she should deny herself of a potentially great relationship simply because she’s earning more. If a guy let his ego get in the way and can’t handle the fact that you’re more capable than him, he’s probably not so much of a catch either. Go for someone who celebrates your achievement and instead of being daunted, find someone who would see your success as a motivation to improve himself.