Wednesday, August 24, 2011

In Between Two Cultures in a Halfway Changed World

In Latino culture we are taught to appreciate what we are given and not demand too much. I see this everyday with my extended family " Be grateful for what you have mija" ,  "It's so great the Cousin (Blank) is making 17 dollars per hour. I should probably not be upset if i'm overlooked for a promotion and that I sure as hell shouldnt be marching in there asking the boss for a raise. I realize that in these tough economic times we should be GRATEFUL for what we have. But as the wonderful, accomplished women that we are, we should also value our work and the fact that on most days we go above and beyond the call of duty.

Given that I am a woman who also happens to be a first generation American Latina I wonder where that leaves me... I am  in between two cultures but I am also living in a world where women have made great strides, yet still make less money than men. How is this even possible?  At this point it must mean that women who are in positions of power are paying women less than men for performing the same work. This is equally puzzling because then it must mean that indeed men possess certain traits that are more favorable to success in the workplace.

Even more depressing is the fact that Latinas make about 57 cents for every dollar a man makes! This means that there's really no room to be bashful when it comes to asking for what you want. I have had countless conversations with gal pals who accept their salary offers without negotiating, and hesitate to ask for more. I was granted with a natural ability to ask for what I want/need that has helped me face these scenarios with gusto. But I must confess that I have found myself having conversation with my male life partner (aka-husband) whee he is reminding me that I shouldnt be afraid to ask for more and I say, "Are you crazy I cant go in there asking for X amount of money!" or "No, I cant ask for that promotion." I notice this self doubt is a lot more present in the women I know that in then men that I know. At this point, I have almost become jealous of men's arrogance/delusions of grandeur

Now im not making a generalization about men and women, but I have a few scenarios that I think are contributing to the 57 cents to the dollars/ 75 cents to the dollar phenomenon...
  • Women are accepting the first offer given to us from the beginning of our careers thus placing ourselves on the lower end of the pay scale for this job and the ones that will come after it.
  • We are never negotiating our salary because we are too busy being thankful we were offerred a job to begin with.
  • At some point the fields that became "female dominated" also became the ones that paid the least. I probably dont have enough time to discuss what's wrong with that statement.
  • When we become mothers we start getting paid less because people perceive that mother's work less. This one irks me because it also assumes that women stop caring about everything when they have babies. I can tell you from all the fabulous mommies I have encountered that this is SO not the case.
Now in every case it seems that we women can help solve these issues by speaking up and asking for more and not accepting less than what we deserve. For those of you that are in decision making roles please remember that if we are not challenging the status quo we are doing a disservice to future generations.

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