FORTHRIGHT – MALE VS. FEMALE – Marilyn Armstrong

FOWC with Fandango — Forthright

When a man is forthright, he is energetic and ambitious. He gets a lot of slaps on the back and with a tidbit of luck, he winds up running the place. Or a piece of it, anyhow. Because if you are a man, forthright and a bit of a go-getter, you are the right kind of guy. You say what you mean and others automatically follow you.

Old Doubleday and Company

On the other hand, if you are a woman and you are forthright, you are probably a slut or at the very least, a ball-buster. If you say what you want, you not a “real” woman. If you are ambitious, you are ruthless. If you are a go-getter, you are probably sleeping with the boss (of either sex, these days).

Regardless, you get paid at least 25% less than men who did the same work and quite possibly, even less.

Recently I’ve read about how “we (women) used to handle ‘this stuff’ back in the good old days.” Like, say, the 1960s.

Those days weren’t quite as good and they definitely weren’t great, at least not for working women. We were just beginning to find our feet out of the secretarial pool. How many of us had to learn to avoid the hands and the tentacles (some men had really long arms) of the men who surrounded us? You didn’t have to look “hot” or wear sexy clothing, either. Just being female was enough. “Hitting on women” has nothing to do with sex or attraction and everything to do with power and dominance.

A lot of the worst of these guys had wives at home better looking than the women they were bugging at work.

Despite rumors to the contrary, it wasn’t necessarily “easy” to get around these guys. Easy if they were an equal or lower level colleague, but if it was your boss? When it was the guy who owned the joint?

You were screwed.

You could quit your job quickly before the boss had time to make up an evil reference about you. That is what I did because not only was he really making it very clear how long our evenings after everyone else left would be. On top of that, he was a handsome guy. That was not going to make the situation easier.

I could give in a bit, enough to shut him up while I bought time to send out resumes. Or I could give in and live with the shame. Because even if no one else knew, I knew. I have a conscience. It is often inconvenient.

All these situations were unique. We were not the same people. Our responses varied. Where we lived made a difference, too.

Every office is different and has its own social milieu. Every “boss” has his own playbook. Moreover, it depended on your position and who was badgering you.

Not your equal? Easy peasy.

Your equal? More complicated.

The 1970s Doubleday I remember

Your boss or worse, THE boss? Big problem.

Working at Doubleday was fantastic except for the pay inequalities. No one bothered anyone except by asking them to help them produce extra work. Which no one minded because otherwise, they treated us very well.

You never made the same money as men whose work wasn’t as good as yours. I remember when I worked there, having secured a pretty good job I managed to get a job for a friend (male) who had no experience at all but had talent. They hired him for several thousand dollars more per year than I was getting, yet I knew the work and had experience. He knew nothing and had to learn it from scratch.

I didn’t see the point in making a fuss. It was pointless. Men always earned more than me, even when they were inexperienced or not very good.

So much for forthright.

13 thoughts on “FORTHRIGHT – MALE VS. FEMALE – Marilyn Armstrong

  1. I do recall discussing pay inequities in the workplace with the Personnel Director. I was a supervisor at the time (early 70s) and I am male, but I remember that I was surprised that the starting pay for women in the department I supervised was lower than for men. When I asked the Personnel Director why that was, SHE told me it was because males are the breadwinners and women are going to get married, get pregnant, and quit. Therefore, it was not a good investment to pay women the same as men.

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  2. In the middle 60s and into the middle 70s, I really lucked out, working for Eddie and Margo Albert, never subject to any harassment and treated as part of the family. I then became a teacher and, again, never had to contend with any physical dilly-dallies. However, before those years, working in the industry, I did run into situations that called for strong resistance.The pay scale as a teacher was always slanted towards higher pay for the men. During my 40 years of teaching at both college and high school senior levels simultaneously, the college pay was higher than the Catholic, all-boys, private school. The Catholic order seemed to think that it was your duty to teach. I will say that I had total control over how I taught my classes with no interference. Now, with all the technology involved in teaching, I would go quite madder than I already am.

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    • The pay difference between men and women is still between 25 and 50% — worse for black women. Probably less for state and federal jobs, but it’s still there. Because, you know, I may be 50, but I’m going to quit for more babies.

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  3. I remember those days in the sixties and into the seventies. When I got out of school and went to work in a large office I was shocked and I was in the other side. Lot of touchy deadly stuff going on.

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