Friday, April 17, 2015

Trailblazing by Betsy Ashton

Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail. ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

Having been on this earth for a number of decades gives me new perspective on blazing trails for others to follow. When I started in college, I never realized what an impact my generation would have on future ones. Sure, everyone yapped at high school graduation about how we were going to change the world. No one yapped about how we would build on a foundation set long before we arrived in numbers "too big to ignore."

I fell into the women's movement like coming home to roost. It was natural. It was logical. It was long overdue. The women's movement had so many different wings that a young college student (me) could find something to follow. 

Women had the vote but didn't have equal pay for equal work. (Still don't) Women could study what they wanted in institutes of higher education but were steered away from what we now call STEM courses--Science, Technology, Engineering and Math. We weren't supposed to be good at those male-dominated subjects. Women of color had it even worse, because they fought two separate battles.

So one day last summer, I spoke to a group of young women. Now, understand I normally speak to older women when promoting my book, but this time I was invited to speak to recent high school and college graduates. I asked them how many were in STEM curricula. More than 60% raised their hands. I asked if they had be advised to go into the "safe" courses of study--office work, teaching or nursing. Those were the careers of choice my guidance counselor set out for me. Zero %. I asked how many had graduated from or been accepted into a four-year institute of higher education. 100%.

Wow! How things had changed. These women were excited about computer science, engineering, ecology and other biological sciences.

I asked if they thought they would be paid the same as an equally qualified man. 90% did. Reality check time. Not flipping likely. They will more than likely earn less over their lifetime, as much as 10-25% less.

My generation opened doors. We fought for our rights to be treated equally. We forged new pathways where none existed or where the gates were locked against us. But, no matter what we did, no matter how many times we marched and burned our bras, no matter how many letters we went to Washington, we haven't been able to get to parity in pay.

I don't know about you, but if I'm earning 10% less that my male colleague, I'm going to be pissed. 10% is a dime on a dollar, One thin dime. It's past time all women get equal pay.

I want my damned dime. Don't you?


Betsy Ashton is the author of Mad Max, Unintended Consequences, and Uncharted Territory, A Mad Max Mystery, which is now available in e-book at Amazon and Barnes and Noble.


Jannine Gallant said...

Great post, Betsy! Women SOOOO have to stand up for themselves to get what they deserve. I will always remember years ago, when both my boss (the dept. head) and her second in command quit at the same time with little notice. This was at a ski area with mostly seasonal workers. I was the only year round employee left in the dept. who had a clue. The company bigwig offered me the job. I told him what I wanted to make. He said, and I quote, "But done of the other WOMEN managers are making that much." I looked him in the eye and told him if he wanted me, that's what I expected to be paid. I got the job. Still makes me mad when I think of his condescending assumption that women aren't worth the same pay as a man. Grrr...

Margo Hoornstra said...

Late getting here. Sorry. We all seemed to have traveled a similar 'career or not' journey. So sad, there still is a long, long way for our daughters and granddaughters to go. My situation was sort of like Jannine's, when I was first given the job as CEO of a small non-profit, one of the comments overheard was "They hired some girl."

Diane Burton said...

I'm late, too. Great post, Betsey. We're in (about) the same generation. The only jobs that women went into (way back when) were secretaries, phone operators, nurses, and teachers. I encouraged my daughter to be anything she wanted--an astronaut, an engineer, anything. She wanted to be a teacher. And she's a great one, too.