Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Women NOT Making Money: Addressing a Need

This entry was written by Myra Sawyers, former teacher, current founder of the EPIC Project

When it comes down to it, "doing what you love" is a wonderful motivator for career choices and entry, but this pursuit of a good quality of life issue is more than just choosing a career that is the hallmark of your passion. The most important factor is wanting a salary that is commensurate with your experience, your value and your talent. As Myra Sawyers writes in today's blog entry about women in the workforce, many women are being left out of the salary equation.

Many years ago, I left a job as an aide on Capitol Hill to go into teaching. Many people thought I was crazy, but I was doing what I really wanted to do. I knew what the challenges were going to be, but I was ready for them. Or so I thought. Finally after 4 years of teaching, I left. Sure there were personal reasons, but I knew I was ready to move on. I knew there were other things I could do that would provide me with greater flexibility and pay more.

My passion is teaching. Many choose teaching because they, too have the same passion; however, divert from it because they do not want to deal with the monumental challenges and not be compensated for it. The salaries of teachers have been and continue to be the lowest of any profession requiring the same amount of education and having a high level of responsibility.

Are deeper issues at play here? Is there a greater social truth hidden in the teaching profession that we are ignoring?

Yes, I think so and it is, women professions don't pay!

Here are some interesting tidbits:

Women in life sciences are paid 1/3 less.

A look at world levels of teaching salaries

There still seems to be a belief in this country that professions that are predominantly women, (76% of teachers are women) are not primary incomes; that most women work for "extra" money and that their husbands are the primary bread winners.

This is not true. Currently, 40% of women who work, are the primary income earners in their household. In teaching, the average salary of a teacher in $31,000, but the average salary of a principal is $75,000 (80% of principals are males). Sure, one could argue principals have to work all year (teachers have summers off) and they have more responsibility. That is the perception, but there is very little truth to it. I know. I also suspect, there is a gender "worthiness" problem. Do women in "women professions" think they deserve to make six figures? Why don't they negotiate higher salaries? Currently, there are actually efforts to change this. Teachers making $125,000 with a bonus. Why not? Why should principals make more?

With the recession, there are many "movements" to help women go back to work, and apparently, money is the number one driver for women, career-wise. Carol Fishman Cohen and Vivian Steir Rabin, graduates of Harvard Business School and authors of Back on The Career Track have developed iRelaunch, which provides career re-entry programs to moms who want to enter back into the workforce. It will be interesting to see how many choose to enter teaching. Will this new wave of women challenge the system to take their work seriously?

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