Well here I am, three weeks into my new course and I finally know what my course is. It turns out that I am now studying a ‘IT technicians diploma.” So from my understanding of the course I will be gaining a brief overview of a range of IT skills, which is pretty much what I wanted to achieve. I am really excited about next week though, as I am heading off to the Gold Coast for eight days – exciting stuff.
These three weeks have kept me very busy, so much so that I have had barely enough time to notice what has been going on in the world around me. Other than reading the headlines, which one cannot claim to be providing a sense of positivity. I don’t think to many people could have missed the toing and froing between Trump, North Korea and China or Argentina. Or any of the major natural disasters that have been occurring throughout the world. So while the world seems intent on going to pieces I have been enjoying sitting in my classroom with a bunch of other students tackling the ins and outs of operating systems, installing drivers, and generally exploring the world of computing more in-depth than I have done in the past and trying to come to terms with all of the IT jargon. Being too busy to pay any real attention to these headlines is great, and I am sure is psychologically a lot healthier.
However, there was one headline that grabbed my attention and seemed to me that it was deserving of the time required to read it. The reason for this was that it was an opinion piece regarding women IT engineers. So it seemed to have some level of relevance to me and my current pursuits. It was written by a woman that ran her own IT business and I think was at one time an IT engineer herself, so I thought it was a fair assumption that this woman had written this piece to attract women to the industry right. Afterall just recently there had been publications claiming studies had shown IT workplaces where women were well represented were around 20% more productive. In fact over the past few years there seems to have been quite an effort made from government through to industry to attract more women to the IT industry. In this environment the last thing anyone would expect a woman to write an opinion piece stating that women should not pursue such a career choice. But, she did, and she really , REALLY pissed me off. Not having had an opportunity to confront this woman I have quietly seethed about this for a few days now, so today as I have time now I need to get this off my chest.
I read it thinking I would read about her personal experience in the workplace. Maybe she suffered some terrible sexual harassment experience. Perhaps she was going to offer me some insight into what might confront me should I pursue a career in this field? Unfortunately this was not the case. This was an example of the eighteenth century had come calling, and wanted their ignorance back. I honestly could not believe that I was reading an opinion piece, authored by a women, stating that women’s brain’s were incorrectly wired for having the necessary competence to work as an IT engineer. I am pretty damn disgusted in her, that sort of blatant sexism. So yes, women can be sexist too, it’s a thing. She tried to excuse her sexism by rewriting the pseudo-scientific claims to excuse racism throughout the eighteenth century. To see a woman write something like this and try to pass it off as credible fact is the reason why sexist attitudes toward women and women’s issues continue to be considered acceptable. In reality science has failed to demonstrate any difference in the ‘wiring’ of men and women’s brains, just as there is no difference between the brain’s of black, white, red, yellow, or any other skin colour.
For the last three weeks I have been dragging myself out of bed at the un-natural time of 6 am. I march off to my course, an environment where men outnumber women by at least ten to one, and everyone seems able to have a perfectly pleasant day, where everyone is too busy getting through the day’s tasks, to care about gender, ethnicity, religion, or politics. It is an environment where everyone seems happy to ask for help when required, and happy to answer a call for help if and when they can. Which begs the question if men can be respectful in a male dominated environment, why the hell can this woman not show the same level of respect toward other women as these men can?
I do recognise that she is entitled to her opinion, we all are. I do have serious questions regarding the newspaper’s editors that chose to publish her opinion. I wonder if that paper would have been so willing to publish an opinion piece that stated something along the lines of;
“men should not be allowed to work in finance or banking as the recent global financial crisis demonstrated that men are not able to manage money. Research has shown that during the global financial crisis all of the major financial institutions that were affected by the crisis had men in charge – ergo men have no place in anything related to finance their brains are not wired for it.”
We all know that if someone wrote it, no newspaper would publish it because first it’s not true, and secondly there would be public outrage. Yet, where was the outrage over this woman’s sexist opinion. The sad truth is, those sexist men that still remain (often in the corridors of power and position) pick up on these pieces written by women and use them as evidence of why their own sexist behaviour is okay. Sadly this is the stuff that lays beneath the attitudes that fuel any number of social practices and attitudes that disadvantage women everyday.
It’s true we are all entitled to an opinion on whether this sexism even exists or not. However, actual studies have been conducted around the world, that consistently show women continue to be paid less for the same work. Your opinion is simply not as informed as the actual investigations of wage rates between men and women doing the same jobs in the same nations employed by the same businesses. And these studies have demonstrated that women are on average paid somewhere around 10-15% less than their male counterparts. And that has continued to be true even when women have had higher qualifications, and more experience. Time off, out of the work force, has failed to provide an adequate explanation of these income discrepancies. I have even heard of some women discovering that they were being paid less than men that had fewer qualifications, and less experience or competence.
These issues are not the result of the pernicious weed of feminism unjustly re-engineering the world to stripe men of their masculinity and rightful opportunities. They are issues, because women are being systematically prevented from receiving the full rewards of their efforts. Commonsense should inform us that when women are able to reach their full potential, and receive the full rewards of their productive efforts everyone benefits. She benefits, her partner benefits, and any children they might have benefit from the higher standard of living that workplace fairness affords them as a family. Society also benefits, because when employees recognise that they can expect fairness in the workplace their individual productivity increases. After all ,what man will give everything they have got to sit by and watch the new less experienced employee leapfrog them all the way to the c-suite. It doesn’t matter if you are male or female, when you see this happen your level of engagement in your workplace begins to decline.
So the point of this long winded rant in a nutshell. If, as a woman, you hear yourself excusing sexism on any level take this as a sign that you are in need of therapy. You need help to understand that you and your fellow women are more than a reproductive system. The next time you hear someone argue that men need to earn more because they have families to support, take the time to remember that there are also thousands of women supporting families. And, shock, horror, just as some men choose to remain batchelor’s throughout their lives, so too do some women choose to remain single, and they have as much right to be able to expect to earn a livable wage and receive a wage which accurately reflects her productive value she adds to the business. If you find yourself arguing that there is a valid reason for this not being the case, once again you need therapy to understand your personal value, and the value of your contributions in the productive sector are not constrained by your anatomy.