Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Equal Pay

I am going to get serious tonight. I have been reading and hearing a lot about the pay differentials between men and women in the work place and I want to get up on my soup box and throw my experience and opinion into the mix. For those of you who don't know, I worked for several years as a Human Resources Manager/Director. The two companies I worked for were extremely different from each other. One had a great pay structure for employees, the other was definitely lacking. Just as a note of interest, I am not going to discuss management pay tonight, as that is a different ball game all together!

The first company I worked in HR for was a factory in Cleveland, OH. There were approximately 125 employees I was in charge of for the day to day Human Resources duties, including setting and approving raises. Out of these 125 employees, there were 6 female employees who were considered hourly employees. The average rate for these 6 women was $7.50 per hour. Out of the 119 men, the average hourly pay was about $8.25 per hour. I certainly picked up on this point while going over the numbers and I went to the accounting department to inquire about the difference in average hourly pay. The Accounting Manager, though not extremely helpful, said It was due to the positions these people worked in, i.e. the women were primarily welders, the men were actually operating heavy machinery and building tools and dies for these machines. I asked, however, why aren't the women running the machines, the answer was, "Well, one or two do sometimes, but they don't want to run the machines. They are afraid of getting dirty". (Insert guffaw from him here) Taking it as I was getting dismissed from this exchange, I spent the next week or so asking around, talking to the women to see what they thought. Each one of those 6 women had asked at one time or another to work at one of the presses and each time, another man was chosen over them. Another interesting fact I found was the men who did welding as well, just like the women, were making between $0.50 and $0.75 more, doing the same job! Why??? Again, when I went to solve this mystery, I was simply given a lame excuse and dismissed. The bad thing was, and I didn't even realize this until I had been laid off and was looking for a new job, even my own pay was much lower than others in my profession and $40,000 less per year than my predecessor, who was a man. I didn't even realize! I felt so taken advantage of and even sick to my stomach about it. Long story short, this was a real situation, a true story, and the exact same tricks are being played across this nation. There are, however, fairer ways of doing this...

After moving and settling to New York, I took a job at a hotel who was managed by a national brand. The pay structure of this employer was based on seniority and position. Every employee who did the same position was paid the same rate, which was based on the rates of our competitors who based their rates on us. (Does that make sense to you? It's complicated, I know) There were no random raises, no manager "favorites" getting a quarter here or there and every single increase had to be approved by the Supervisor up to the President of the company who was in Houston, TX and ran 40 hotels nationwide. In this case, even the management team of the hotel was paid on a scale that again, was competitive with hotels around us.

What I want to do with this tonight is to make people realize that these news stories and reports which have come out recently are absolutely true and may even be happening in your company or job. Stand up and talk about it. Share your ideas on how to make it fair. Did you know in most cases women pay more for health insurance than men? Did you know that on average women who don't smoke pay more than men who do? You know now. Is this fair? How does that make you feel? It makes me feel sad and angry. It makes me want to write a blog post about it and most importantly, it makes me want to work for change.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

The 50 Sexiest Women and Me.

Interested in seeing what Google would spit back at me so I could get inspired to write something serious tonight, I just did a search on "latest news on women". I was expecting something about "The Pill", Equal Pay or a new women's health initiative. The number one result? "The Top 50 Sexiest Women". Really Google? Is the the most important news about women today? I don't see that the "Top 50 Sexiest Women" is really more important than equal salaries for men and women, but perhaps that's just me. Let's talk about it for a moment.

I am going to talk about the sexiness of other women. Guys that read this blog, don't get too excited thinking I am going to reveal a lesbian fantasy or talk about some long ago drunken night back in college. It's not happening tonight. As a woman, I really think I can appreciate the sexiness of other women. I am confident enough in my own sexuality that I can say "Wow, That woman is very pretty." or "She is gorgeous!" and not mean I want to jump in the sack with a woman. I can really say that I appreciate another woman's beauty like a work of art. I understand why men may think it is cliche, but its true. If I look at a piece of art, I am certainly not attracted to that art, but I may stare and study it, memorizing the strokes of the brush or the color contrasts on the canvas. It is simply appreciating beauty and I am sure many women do this. Actually, I wouldn't even say I am comparing myself to other women, just appreciating her physique or looks. I admit I do it with men as well, but my mind tends to wander to the dark side if you know what I mean.

Back to Google's search results..."The 50 Sexiest Women". I won't say which list I am looking at, as their seems to be 100's of "sexiest women" lists, but I just don't see it! The women on the list are not my definition of sexy in any way. Perhaps it is my female mind looking at them versus the male mind, but really, a nice rack and round ass don't denote sexy to me, which made me think, what is sexy then? Can we come up with a unisex definition of sexiness? I don't know if it's possible.

Women are all sexy in their own ways. What makes you sexy, ladies? Come on! Pick one thing that you feel is sexy about yourself. For me? I say it is my eyes. I can totally manipulate situations with my eyes. Don't pick a part your man would say is sexy. Don't choose your boobs or your legs, find something else. A fingernail? Your ear? What about the elbow? No...not the elbow. Elbows can be gross to me. What about your hand? Looking at my hands on my laptop right now in the dim light of my apartment, I am thinking "Yeah! My hand looks gooooood!" Actually, I do feel better about myself right now after I had that thought. Is that the key to self-esteem? Find something sexy? Try it! You may feel the same way and we can all use a dose of self esteem at times. My hand is sexy! Is yours? What about your curves? I think curvy women are really sexy. Embrace those curves. Men I talk to actually love curves, which is why I am perplexed about the skinny-ness/curve-less women on the "Top 50 Sexiest Women" list.

Let's do ourselves a favor tonight. Ladies, here is your homework. Find something sexy about yourself tonight. Tomorrow, celebrate that sexiness. Men? Your homework is to find something sexy about your lady and complement her on it tomorrow. You may even "get some" if you play your cards right! No excuses. You are all gorgeous, beautiful women, you just need to find it and prove it to yourself. You are like a great piece of art, a sculpture made with care and a beautiful flower in a magical garden. Try saying that to yourself tomorrow. I guarantee you will feel great about yourself. I feel great about all of you!

Monday, May 3, 2010

Hurrah for "The Pill"!

I would like to take some time tonight to wish a Happy 50th Birthday to "The Pill"! I am a huge fan of the pill for many reasons. How cool is it that a birth control pill of any make, brand, model, etc, is just collectively known as "The Pill"! There have to be millions of other medications, but only one can stand strong and just be known as: "The Pill".

I am 31, so it was out a long time before I was born, but I am a happy and satisfied user of this type of contraception and have collected my thoughts about how utterly useful it can be. No, I am not just talking about sex here ladies and gents, though that is a definite bonus if you don't want to have a baby at this particular time in your life, but talking about the other effects of the pill...then, of course, I will discuss the sex part.

I went on "The Pill" about 10 years ago after some particularly painful weeks around my uterine area. After x-rays, scans and an internal ultrasound (Yes...they stick a wand "you know where" and the nurse moves it around inside you.) I was diagnosed with a fairly serious case of ovarian cysts. The doctor I was seeing at the time was talking surgery...I was talking about how no one was about to cut into my ovaries. I went and got a second opinion and the new doctor wanted to try "The Pill" first to see if it would help. I was very thankful for her insight.

The first month I was on "The Pill" I felt amazing! I almost immediately stopped having the pain in my "ovarian region", within a month my skin looked amazingly beautiful and I even lost some weight! I was so excited to get my period just to see how that would feel! It was the best period I ever had. Here and gone in 3 days, very light and almost no cramps. It was a miracle and the miracle still happens every month. I almost don't even remember what cramps feel like anymore and of course, I am still very beautiful.

The next thing the pill did for me was to put me on a strict schedule, that I still follow 10 years later. (Unless I sleep in, of course) Every morning I take "The Pill" at 7:30am. I credit "The Pill" for making me semi-responsible in my life when it comes to schedules and times. Since I started taking it, I get disappointed with myself if I am late for a meeting or other scheduled event.

The third thing the pill did for me, and for many women, is to give sexual freedom and not have to worry about getting pregnant, though the fear of an STD is strong with me. That could be the one downfall of "The Pill". I am not saying that I went crazy with 1000's of partners or anything, but with the few gentleman I have chosen to be intimate with, it was comforting to know I was in control of my fertile-self and didn't have to worry about a condom or if the idiot put it on right, etc. It gave women freedom and control of themselves and their bodies and that is just as important today as it was 50 years ago.

Tonight, I raise my glass of Pinot Grigio to those pioneers who brought the pill into fruition and gave millions of women the power, choice and freedom over our bodies and our wombs.

Next up? Someone should create a birth control/Anti - STD pill! If only I hadn't gotten a C in college chemistry, it might have been me...