For those of you who aren’t aware (which up until two days ago included me), Jill Abramson was the first female Executive Editor for the New York Times (NYT). Her career started with the monolith as managing editor, a position she occupied until she was promoted to the position she’d be ultimately and unceremoniously fired from three short years later. She was let go presumably for her management style and lack of communication, which allegedly caused unrest in the newsroom. However, what’s making bigger news is the pay gap between herself and her male predecessors. Apparently Ms. Abramson learned of the discrepancies during her tenure as managing editor and approached the Publisher and CEO of NYT and they bumped her salary up. She again made inquiries about compensation as Executive Editor and, some believe, that ultimately led to her being ousted.
The underlying issues in the center of the controversy lie in the continued inequality in pay between men and women; and the unwritten rules on how women are expected to behave in the workplace. Several articles have been written here, here, and here and like it or not, no matter how far we’ve come, it’s clear we still have a ways to go. There continues to be a chasm between how much a woman is paid for doing the same type of work as men and organizations do not publicize these differences. Hence the need for the proposed Payment Fairness Act which is a bill that prohibits retaliation against employees who share their salary information with each other.
Some say the Act would eliminate the culture of silence keeping women in the dark about pay discrimination. It would also require the Department of Labor to collect wage data from employers, broken down by race and gender, and require employers to show that wage differentials between men and women in the same jobs are for a reason other than gender.
According to the 2012 U.S. Census Bureau report, 53.6% of women 18 and older are unmarried which means we are ultimately responsible for our financial security and ensuring the bills are paid.
Conversely, Ms. Abramson was described as harsh or brash, two traits I’m sure most men embody and readily display in the positions they occupy. Hell, those traits are probably admired by their male peers as something to emulate. But when women display similar behavior, people respond differently and usually in a negative manner. I’ve personally seen this in my workplace, and while I found it off putting, it seems as though this sort of gruffness and heavy handedness is often rewarded or at least downplayed by management. Have you ever witnessed this type of behavior from a man or woman? How did you and your peers respond to it?
As single women, have you ever fought for equal pay in the workplace? If so, how did you handle it? Or, are you aware of pay discrepancies between you and your male counterparts?