It’s not that easy when it comes to women in the workforce

In response to Victor Joecks’ Wednesday column, “Help women by not talking about gender pay gap”:

I am a 32-year resident here, as well as a semi-retired professional still working in my profession and volunteering. Mr. Joecks is correct when he writes that women make their own choices and there is a “better message” to send regarding empowerment. This message I received as a child and took seriously to heart. I attained a degree in applied math from one of the best universities in the country and worked in the male-dominated fields of computer science and engineering.

Mr. Joecks, however, is blatantly wrong when he writes, “If you don’t think you’re paid enough” you can “find a better alternative.”

Mr. Joecks’ premise is that the choices do exist in a broad swath. They do not. By the time these problems occur, many women are deeply committed to the profession, the organization and to the responsibilities to support their families — as men have been. They do not have the luxury of moving to a lesser alternative.

While I was high in management working with all men, their personal character (or lack of it) influenced every one of my accomplishments. They could make negative remarks or use other dirty tricks to look good in order to avoid keeping the playing field even. They shunned and injured me emotionally because they could not handle the anxiety of competition in the areas in which I excelled.

My three children in private school and college, and my recently downsized spouse who returned to college, could not afford to have me leave my best-benefits job that was keeping our family focused on the American Dream. And don’t get me started on the benefits they gave to the man who came after me — a flexible work schedule and late start time for his children’s needs. All while I was threatened for asking for 15 minutes of flex time and offering to work an hour longer to get it.

As it has been said before, you don’t bring charts to a knife fight. So stop telling women they have those choices when they get in the room and “the boys in the boys club” choose to play dirty. Do you really want your sisters, wives and daughters to get really good at that game?

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