Friday, April 18, 2008

Blog for Fair Pay for Women, Friday, April 18

I am not much of a joiner, but I read about Blog for Fair Pay for Women Day from Writes Like She Talks and couldn't resist.

Women in technical fields have it pretty good until we become mothers. In some fields, early career women actually out-earn men. (But the statistics are skewed because, in those fields, so many of the men work in the military at lower than industry wages.)

Nevertheless, the number one thing you can do to lower the earnings gap between your sons and daughters is to encourage your daughters to go into STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) fields.

I work in a male and geezer-dominated environment. About 10% of the technical staff are women. Anyone under 50 is considered young. But I mostly enjoy my interactions with the old geezers. They are incredibly creative problem solvers and I have learned so much from them. The key is to have empathy and a sense of humor.

Once, a geezer I didn't know referred to me as a pretty girl in the cafeteria. Then he recoiled in mock horror and said, "We are not supposed to call you that; we are supposed to call you women now."

Without missing a beat, I quipped back, "You can call me anything you like, as long as you pay me like a man."

He smiled and nodded, "You are all right."

Cute Digression:
I don't know what put this in her head, but Iris wants to study electrical engineering and build things. Look, she made up business cards already! Notice she gave herself an alias. That's an important detail in the story, but I can't say any more.

Did anyone get the pun?

Hint: Iris likes to win in everything.


  1. I LOVE LOVE LOVE the business card! Oy - I love it when our kids do stuff like that. I'm actually really excited for turn off tv week next week - I haven't been the last couple of years but I am so ready for it.

    Thanks for the link and the post.

  2. Anonymous10:46

    I have not had all that many jobs, but my experience has been that the flexibility of the work environment has mostly to do with how many of my coworkers have kids, not their age or gender.

  3. Los Angeles Magazine has a thing called "L.A. Archetype" where they go out and dig up somebody who embodies a L.A. archetype. This month they feature the "Little Old Lady from Pasadena."

    Sally Rubsamen, the little old lady from Pasadena they found, was the Queen of the Rose Parade in 1941; two days before her coronation in that capacity, she pulled the ribbon opening the 110 Freeway.

    It says that during World War II she worked at Caltech as a math assistant; and subsequently at JPL as a "data reduction specialist" working for Albert Einstein's son. It's not clear to me if these were serious science jobs, or more clerical data entry jobs, or something in between. But I thought it was interesting.

  4. Data reduction, with minimal loss of information, is a seriously mathematical/computer science intensive field. Good people in that field are in short supply. If you ever worked with satellite data, you would know why.

  5. In many states (all?) you cannot identify yourself as an engineer unless you are a Professional Engineer (PE), a license you receive after passing an exam, spending several years practicing, and getting other PEs to endorse you. Your daughter is now in violation of California law at least, and possibly several federal laws thanks to your internet advertisement. Not to worry -- have her read "Surely You're Joking, Mr. Feynman" if she wants to find out how much trouble a single smart person can cause in one lifetime.

  6. Hey! Look at me making up a character to be an electrical engineer for me! Proof I have always secretly wanted to be a writer!

    (That and me bossing around other kids when we played make believe games because their ideas of plot were not narratively or emotionally compelling)


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