Sunday, May 18, 2014

Sex Discrimination Still Rampant in Aviation: A True Story

A few weeks ago, there were many articles online about how the new proposed additions to the Equal Pay Act were shot down by the Republican party because they said, basically, "Women are not necessarily paid less. They are just in fewer high-paying jobs than men." This was followed by a list of ways employers could encourage more women in the workforce, by having more lenient hours, etc. It also said there were less women in things like sheet metal, aviation, construction--high-paying blue-collar, physical work.
Dear Boss Man, I want what he makes.
Image courtesy of stockimages /

I saw their point, to be honest.

Where I work, on my shift, my crew, there are only about three women in the entire building. So, yea, it's our own damned fault that most of these occupations are still male dominated. And more women now than in the nineties are staying home to raise children, so yea, women make less than men. Being a stay-at-home mom isn't a good-paying job. Neither is secretary and some of the other jobs women choose over physical labor.

So I was upset for about a day, about the fact this new act wasn't passed. Apparently the one JFK passed in '64 isn't quite fixing the problems us women have. 

But recently, I found out that we really do need that EPA and Paycheck Fairness Act to be enforced.

This is a true story about a woman who works at a male-dominated aviation company. We'll call her Jane.

Jane works closely with two other people, both men, named Harry and Dick. (Yes, I did that on purpose. Gotta inject some humor.) Like me, she's on an all-male crew in a male-dominated job.

Jane has 14 years experience and an A&P license. She accepted the job she has, fully aware it was "entry level" and that she was overqualified for it, thinking positively that she'd impress upon them her worth within six months or so and obtain the next pay level for her job. In the past, she has rose a pay level within 6 months of starting with a company. There was no reason for her to feel this would be any different. She's never experienced pay discrimination before.

Well, Jane, Harry, and Dick had their annual evaluations, followed by their annual pay raises. Their boss told them not to talk about it amongst each other.. "Shhhhh," he said, "sharing this information will cause problems..."

Spoken like a man fully aware the little papers he was handing out weren't fair.

And this is why we need the Paycheck Fairness Act, an executive order Obama signed in April stating that Federal contractors can no longer take action against employees who share their pay data. This law will prevent folks like the above-mentioned boss from having sex-discrimination practices.

By law and thanks to the Lilly Ledbetter Act, if a woman can prove she does the same job and same quality of work, and that seniority isn't an issue, but that she still makes less than them, she has a case.

BUT if a woman doesn't KNOW what her male counterparts make, how can she prove she makes less?

And here's what happened to Jane... Naturally her coworkers shared their pay raises with her. And why not? They were either proud or disappointed.

Harry, who received an average evaluation with a reprimand attached, received a 2.5% raise.

Dick, who received a very good evaluation with no complaints, received 3.5%--and Jane says he earned every penny.

But poor Jane, who received a better evaluation than Harry, with no reprimands attached, no criticism at all, only received 1%.

And I know some of you are now saying, "Maybe it's all based on seniority..."

That's also the first thing I asked Jane.

Harry has been an employee of the unnamed company for 8 years. Dick has been there three. So it's not about seniority. And Jane would like me to add that she has nothing against Harry and Dick. They've made her feel welcome in what would otherwise have been a rather unwelcome and intimidating environment. She doesn't begrudge them their money. Her problem is with management. Why is she making less for doing the same thing and presenting the same quality, when there is no seniority factor?

Women, I'm telling you, it's happening. I know many of you don't worry about this stuff. "Oh, it's 2014. Nobody is discriminating against us anymore..."

Oh yes they are. And we must be united in this, or we will never overcome. 

And while this has nothing to do with books or movies, it is about women's rights, so I felt Book Babe was the place, with Jane's permission, of course.


  1. I noticed there are no comments but four people have shared this so it must have struck a cord with at least four people. I shared it on Face Book. I do not think companies should keep pay info a secret at all. Co works need to know what the other is making. Why the secret I have to ask and I think I would ask that question of the person who told me not to say anything. It should be each individuals right to share what they make or do not make. I hope you can get this to the fore front again. Good job Tara!

  2. It's good to see this type of reasoning. I worked for over thirty years in a male-dominated organization, saw and was affected by discrimination against women. A woman had to almost walk on water to get a higher than average performance; while the men only had to drink beer after work with the guys. If a woman was recognized it was because they were token females; if a man was recognized it was because he worked hard for it. The discrimination against women doesn't begin with equal work versus equal pay; it begins with male jobs paying higher than female jobs. Why is that?

    1. That's an excellent point, Grace. I used to think it was perhaps because "male" jobs were more physical. When I worked sheet metal, it paid very well, and I could see why. By the time those guys retire, they're about crippled, with fake hips and permanent injuries. But then there are also "male" jobs that pay well that don't require any physical labor. Take Wall Street for example. Women face discrimination there too. And the TV industry. You are absolutely right.

  3. That sucks. I wonder how managers can live with themselves doing this

  4. Managers live with themselves very easily cause they just don't care. As long as they look good that is all that matters.


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