, Newburyport, MA

May 2, 2014

Women and equal pay

Newburyport Daily News

---- — To the editor:

As a woman who grew up in the ‘50s and ‘60s, the journey of equal pay has been amazing. So many changes have been made in how women are treated in only 60 years. When I was a girl, the only jobs women were trained for after WWII were secretarial positions, teaching positions, grocery check-out clerks, telephone operators, nurses and daycare providers.

Women who worked were expected to be a superwoman, go to work for eight hours a day (if your husband would let you), come home have dinner on the table by 6, make sure the kids did their homework, wash the dishes (by hand), make sure the kids were bathed and in bed, make sure the lunches were set for Dad, the kids and you for the next day and don’t forget the laundry. Housecleaning and grocery shopping would wait until Saturday.

Women were trained to do everything alone. Their husband had a hard day at the office, so they couldn’t be expected to help out. Women back then did not expect to be paid what their husband was paid because their job was not as important.

However, in the ‘70s and ‘80s it seemed to change. Young women were being encouraged to follow their dreams. If they wanted to be a doctor, architect or physicist, the door was open. In many instances, they still had to do most of the above-mentioned chores, but men were starting to help out. Dads actually would help with homework or bathing of the little ones. They even would help cook. It became more of a shared responsibility, although I still am not sure how many women have relinquished the laundry chore to the men (it never worked well in my house after my favorite sweater was reduced to a toddler size).

Women were being recognized for their ability in the workplace as well. Perhaps their pay wasn’t as high as their male counterpart, but it was getting close. There are still places where women don’t have the same pay as men, but in many cases, as an employer, it is difficult when the woman calls in and says my child is ill, I have to stay home. As an employer you have to scramble to fill that void while she is not in.

To a great extent, men do not stay home if the kids are sick or they need to be picked up because they got sick at school or they have a teacher workshop or school vacation. It is difficult to pay equally when the workload is not equal.

Oddly enough, one of my male employees shares those responsibilities with his wife, who also works. More often than not, it is my field guy who has to go home or stay home with the ill child. On one side what a great marriage they have, but on the other side, darn, I have to call customers and reschedule appointments.

It is a difficult proposition to deal with. I do not believe there is an easy solution to this problem. But in my lifetime, it is getting better and women are being paid much higher wages than before.

Just my opinion!

Linda D. Allen