Women have made strides, but working world holds them back

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Barefoot and pregnant.

I still hear jokes around town about working women. Snide comments. Petty remarks.

I actually still know men -- some of them have names you'd recognize -- that subscribe to the philosophy that their wives have a place.

And it's in the home.

Having babies. Cleaning the house. Cooking meals. Taking care of their man.

And for some women, that's fine. Home-makers, of both the male and female stripe, belong in the annals of some great book of heroes, along with Babe Ruth, firefighters and the guy that invented duct tape.

It's a tough job. Tougher than mine and probably, if you're truly honest, a lot tougher than yours. It's also not a job I'd want and it's not one that my wife would want.

My wife, Lori, for example, works harder than any man I know. Of course, I don't know any construction workers, roofers or professional wrestlers. But she certainly works harder than me.

She's a physician in Cape Girardeau, long gone in the dark morning hours before I've even thought about rolling out of bed. Many times she comes home a few hours after I do, after it's dark again.

She owns her own business. She has employees. She deals with sick people. I have none of those worries. It's an occupation that still seems to be dominated by men, but she loves it and it's what she's wanted to do for as long as I've known her.

So who was I 12 years ago to tell her no. Of course, the fact she was going to make 10 times what I do didn't hurt. But, even so, if she had wanted to do something a lot less lucrative or respected -- journalism, say -- I still wouldn't have had any problem with it.

But there are still men that do. I know them and you know them.

I dug up a few facts that show that women still have yet to gain equal footing in the workplace.

* In 2004, women in the workplace were paid 76 cents for every dollar men received for comparable work.

* African-American women earn only 71 cents and Latinas 59 cents for every dollar men are paid. Asian Pacific American women fare slightly better at 86 cents for every dollar men make.

* Nationwide, working families lose $200 billion in income annually due to the wage gap between men and women.

* If married women were paid the same as men in comparable jobs, their family incomes would rise by nearly 6 percent, and their families' poverty rates would fall from 2.1 percent to .8 percent.

* If single working mothers earned as much as men in comparable jobs, their family incomes would increase by nearly 17 percent and their poverty rates would be cut in half, from 25.3 percent to 12.6 percent.

* In the global economy, women account for 60 percent of the world's 550 million working poor -- even though they make up 40 percent of the world's workforce.

* The 25.6 million women who work in predominately male jobs lose an average of $3,446 each per year; the 4 million men who work in predominately female occupations lose an average of $6,259 each per year -- a total of $114 billion loss for men and women in predominately female jobs.

Do those statistics mean anything to you, men?

I know what you're saying. It's 2006: Do we really need another column and another business magazine devoted to what women have accomplished?

Maybe not.

But there are still men out there who need to be reminded.

Scott Moyers is the editor of Business Today.

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