Women’s Equality Day commemorates the amendment that gave women the right to vote.
So why is it still important today? As a female empowerment advocate, I get this question all the time. Aren’t we alright now? Why are we still pushing for equality?
I, myself, used to believe that we’ve made strides and that our society was just fine. I didn’t understand the push for women’s rights. Don’t we all have the same rights? The unspoken truth is that there are still a lot of disadvantages that women face. We still have distorted ideas for the roles of men versus women in society.
When I entered the corporate world, I quickly realized first hand that women and men still don’t get paid the same. I remember being at a director position and head of my own department and truthfully being happy with my pay because I felt I was young and ‘lucky’ I was able to grow s0 quickly within the company. Then a new guy came in and got hired as a director, he was five years younger than me and got paid 45% more than me. I knew all the other male directors made more but, hey, they were a lot older so I had justified the discrepancy in my mind. That’s another problem, that even women don’t realize the biases sometimes.
Anyway, I decided to ask my boss for a raise. I remember thinking, well, maybe this guy just asked for more so I’ll do the same. I knew I had the results and numbers on my favor, I knew I deserved a raise. So I went in, prepared to answer almost any questions on my performance, numbers, time with the company, accomplishments, etc. But nothing prepared me for the answer I was about to receive.
The initial answer was no, I couldn’t get a raise, but of course, I followed it with a ‘why?’ My boss praised my work but said, “You are a young woman, you don’t have any kids, you’re not the head of the household. [Insert new hire name] is going to be a provider one day. He’ll get married and he’ll be the head of the household so he needs more money. You don’t need the money. You make a lot of money for a woman. What you need to do is find yourself a husband. You don’t want to be working forever and you don’t need the money.”
I know, I know, you may be thinking I’m making it up; sadly, I’m not. I had seen a lot of small things, like getting interrupted in the boardroom or other men taking credit for my work or ideas, but I always tried to justify it. I didn’t want to be the “emotional” person in the office. I always tried to brush this off. But this?! How do I justify this?!
I proceeded to remind my boss that salaries are based on experience, performance, and results; not on how many kids I have or don’t have or if I’m the head of the household. I remember joking that if I wanted to use my money to buy a hundred shoes that was my prerogative and I deserve to get paid what I have earned through my performance. I ended up getting a raise, but I had to be persistent. The problem is that most women wouldn’t have gotten that far. The problem is that I shouldn’t even have had to go that far. The problem is that this is even a story. The problem is that millions of women experience these things every single day in the workplace, in entrepreneurship, and everywhere really.
The problem is that this is just one story, but I could tell you so many more! When we get to the place where these discrepancies don’t exist or when they are an outlier and not the norm, then, I’ll digress. When women don’t have to explain why they are asking for a raise, but rather how they’ve earned it, then we’ll take a break. I am looking forward to the day when this day is just a celebration and not a reminder that we still have a lot of work to do. But until that day, we need to unite more than ever and support women. Remember, women’s rights are human rights.
Contributing Author, Jessie Medina
A playful creative and curious intellectual, Jessie Medina likes to defy stereotypes and shatter glass ceilings. She climbed the corporate ladder in her 20’s working as a digital marketing and PR executive. She is now the founder & CEO of a global female empowerment community for Latinas @femlatinas and feminine branding agency @femgency. She is also a crisis communication and workplace equality consultant, speaker, business strategist, and podcast host. Jessie loves traveling, dancing, and cooking at home! She enjoys the beach and doing anything creative. Jessie is an avid advocate for female empowerment and helps women design their dream life.
Keep up with Jessie on her personal Instagram as well @jessiemedinaofficial.