An interesting photo of Margaret Bogenrief, partner in a Chicago crisis management firm, accompanies her recent rant to women, “Quit Your Bitching: You Deserve to Earn Less at Work.”
She’s wearing a strapless, spangly mini-dress, gazing adoringly at someone (or something) while telling us “The workplace is not your domain.”
Naturally Bogenrief’s fashion choices are hers alone to make. But she informs us that the pay divide exists in part because mothers dress their daughters in girly pink, promote the “woman-in-the-kitchen” stereotype, and teach their daughters to play house. As a result, Bogenrief simply can’t understand why women still wonder why they make less as a gender.
Ms. Bogenrief, if you’re saying this gap exists because of the way we dress our daughters or ourselves, please check out your own photo. Although there may be a disconnect in what you say and what you wear, you’re a prime example of women who can wear what they want, and still be successful in business arena.
Bogenrief also tells us that women purposefully choose less demanding jobs because they want to work and be with their families.
Is it a bad thing to want family time?
In fact, Ms. B, most people think this is a good thing. Look around. Women multitask. They work nights and weekends. Their jobs are demanding. What they really need is more recognition and equal pay so they can afford decent daycare while at work.
Although the pay divide is shrinking for some groups of women, the bad news is this doesn’t include women who are married, don’t live in major cities, are over 30, or have kids, according to a Time magazine article on workplace salaries.
Many low-educated women are forced to accept less pay. Low-paying jobs (which can be boring as well as demanding) are the only jobs they can get. These women don’t ask for more money because they’re afraid they’ll be fired if they do. They work at whatever jobs they can get in order to put their kids through school in the hope of giving them a better life.
By example, these kids are seeing sacrifice, hard work, determination, and courage in action. To hell with pink dresses!
Smart companies recognize the value of women in the workplace. They offer equal pay as well as provide daycare or daycare assistance, flex-time, and longer maternity leaves for women (and men). The problem is there aren’t enough smart companies to go around.
Do you know, Ms. Bogenrief, many women who tell their daughters “Prince Charming will save you,” as you suggest? I don’t know a single one. In many families, working women are the primary breadwinners. They recognize the need to depend on themselves for their livelihoods. They understand that one-time Prince Charmings can turn into not-so-princely toads.
Why not talk to Meg Whitman, CEO of Hewlett Packard; Ursula Burns, CEO of Xerox; Denise Morrison, President and CEO of Campbell Soup Company; and other high-achieving business women who are also mothers, and learn what’s really going on in the workplace? Rants like yours are part of the problem, not the solution.