Wednesday, March 8, 2017

a day without a woman

Today is International Women's Day. It is also A Day Without a Woman. Unfortunately, I couldn't in good conscience take the day off work lest it put my family in a bit of a financial predicament, but I am wearing red in solidarity.

I probably have a different perspective about the treatment of women than most people reading this blog. I am a female engineer. As of 2016, only 29% of the science and engineering workforce were women. My degree is in biomedical engineering but my current role is more of a mechanical engineering one--a field where only 7.9% of engineers are women. I have worked for three companies in my seven years of being a degree-holding engineer. My current company has been absolutely wonderful and accommodating--I make a fair wage (as judged by invaluable tool for women trying to determine how much they are worth when interviewing for a new job and attempting to determine if they are being paid a fair wage) and all but 3 days of my maternity leave for Etta were paid at 100%.

I had spoken with a younger male colleague at one point about women wanting equality. He said the reason there is a pay gap is because there are more women than men in lower paying (i.e. teachers) fields than men (i.e. engineers) which skews the numbers in men's favor. This definitely contributes to the average overall numbers you see floating around, but it still isn't to be disregarded. Look at this report that evaluates the earning of men and women specifically in the engineering field. Men are paid more than female engineers and receive larger bonuses. Women deserve equal pay for equal work, period. But this is all about more than just economic equality. This is about feeling safe going to work every day.

I haven't experienced sexual harassment at my current job (although I have had some less than stellar dealings with certain male customers and a few coworkers... nothing I can't--but shouldn't have to--handle), but I have at my other jobs. From speaking with my female peers, the harassment I experienced was mild. I have spoken with women who have been raped by coworkers and supervisors. Women who have been told they can only move up in the company if they work for it via sexual favors. Listen to me, and listen to me closely: this is more common than uncommon. I have no reason to lie about this - no personal gain from sharing the awful truth. Maybe you've never experienced workplace sexual harassment so you just can't believe the statistics. I hope you haven't experienced it. Just because you haven't experienced it, though, doesn't mean you shouldn't be an ally for those of us who have. It doesn't mean you can't demand better from employers. So today I wear red. I wear red for myself and for my peers, but especially for my daughters.

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