Norwich students voice concerns about sexist pay scales in workforce

The beeping sound of her alarm cuts through the morning silence. Lindsay Evans feels her hand go up to turn the alarm off. Though part of her wants to press snooze, she knows that if she is late, her job could be in jeopardy.Evans has been an office manager at APM Machinery for four years now. She has to be at work at 8 a.m. and stays until approximately 4 p.m. She logs in about 40 to 50 hours per week when she is not in school, and 16 to 24 hours on weekends when she is in school.As the office manager, 21-year-old Evans is in charge of anything from billing to purchasing orders, and even a little bit of machine work.However, because of her job, the senior communications major from Canterbury, N.H., is aware of other co-worker’s wages and isn’t always pleased to find some of them being paid more for the same hours.

“Having a job in that machine shop, I get paid a certain wage, but with the billing I do, I’m aware of what my counterparts make,” Evans said.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, [www.census.gov] women are paid less then men on average. In 2012, the wage gap showed that men earned $49,400 in an average year, while women earned an average of $37,800 per year. For female Norwich University students, like Evans, this appears to be a growing concern as they make their way into the workforce.

Besides one other female coworker, Evans is the only female worker at her job, which is in a male dominated industry. Even so, she doesn’t think she should be paid less than other male coworkers. “Sometimes I don’t agree with it and I bring it up to my boss that I don’t agree that this other part-timer is making more than me, but where it’s such a male dominated industry, I don’t really have a say,” she said.

Like Evans, Adelle Murphy, 20, a freshman sports medicine major from Roseau, Minn., has had a job where she has experienced being paid less than her male counterparts.

“I work at a golf course and the men work outside, mowing the lawn ,and as women we work as bartenders and do all the cleaning inside. They think the men should be paid more because they are doing more labor, but I’m on my feet all day cleaning and doing manual labor and I’m being paid less,” Murphy said.

Murphy finds this disparity unfair wondering why she is paid less when she said she is doing just as many hours and as much work.

“It’s unfair to women because they should have equal pay if they are doing the same amount of work and it doesn’t make sense that they are paid less,” Murphy said.

While Murphy and Evans have been in a work environment where they say that they are being paid less than male coworkers, male NU students are aware of a wage difference between male and female coworkers.

Luke Puleo, 21, a junior criminal justice and communications major from Bolton, Mass., said he has been at a job where he was paid more than a female coworker even though they were working the same amount of hours.

“In a summer job of mine, I was paid a lot more money compared to my female counterpart,” Puleo said. “She was doing the same stuff that I was; however, there might have been a difference in productivity between me and her,” he added.

According to the Census website, the wage gap has stayed close to 77 cents earned by women to a dollar by men since 2007. In 2012, a Bloomberg Business Report [www.Bloomberg.com] showed that the jobs where women out-earn men are in the personal care and service industries.

For Evans, Murphy, and Puleo, there is agreement that the wage gap between genders is unfair, and women should be paid the same as their male counterparts if they have the same job and experience.

“I think there is still this glass ceiling where women aren’t in high positions in companies and I not only think that has contributed to the wage gap, but even though they are working the same job, since they aren’t in high levels, they aren’t looked upon as the same,” said Peter Troiano, 21, a junior business management major from Winchester, Mass.

Morgan Lamorey, 20, a junior nursing major from Northfield Vt., feels the wage gap is unfair if women have had the same experience in that field of work.

“I think if you are working a job where you are equally qualified, you should be paid the same there should be no difference if you are meeting the same criteria for the work,” Lamorey said.

Even if the job requires heavy lifting, Lamorey said women shouldn’t be restricted from doing those jobs if they are capable, and should be paid the same.

Evans agrees with Lamorey that when women are equally qualified, they should be paid the same. Yet, the idea that she is being paid less only makes her want to work harder.

“When going into an industry, if I know someone who’s at the same level as me but is a male and is going to make more, it’s going to upset me and it’s going to make me want to work harder to prove to my employers that I deserve to be paid the equal or more than that person,” Evans said.

Evans noted that gender pay disparity takes many forms, noting that in some minority groups, women are paid much less than men. “I have an ethnic background so it’s a little different, but I hope that the places I work will put that aside and put aside the fact that I am a female so I can have an equal pay. It’s only fair,” she said.

“I believe with the right qualifications, people should be paid for those qualifications,” agreed Mark Paradiso, 22, a senior international business major from Westford, Mass.

He added that the only times he thinks men should be paid more is if they are over-qualified for the job,”

Some students think that it is society to blame for women being paid less, like Meredith Hinz, 20, a junior nursing major from San Jose, CA.

“I still kind of think there is that stigma with women where they are the stay-at-home mom and the dad is the one making the money, but I think times are changing and women are working more, but there’s still that connotation that women should stay at home,” Hinz said.

Puleo also feels that society may be partly to blame for the gap in wages between genders. “Society has created unwritten rules that say men deserve to be paid more or men are harder workers, when that isn’t necessarily true,” he said.

Unlike Puleo and Hinz, Troiano said that societal values aren’t the only issue and overall, societal views have been changing on the issue. Yet, stereotyping, he said, is a continuing issue.

“I think it goes back to stereotyping of men and women and how men are seen in a dominating role, and whenever women are seen in a dominating role, they come off as unpleasant,” Troiano said.

On the other hand, Troiano blamed both men and women in these work environments for not confronting the problem.

“Obviously, men (are to blame), because they have those higher positions and they are the ones who make the salaries, but women are also to blame because they should be raising those questions like ‘why is he earning this when I’m doing the same thing.” Troiano said. He added, “I think women need to be more assertive and need to start asking why?”

Though Puleo does not have to worry about being paid less because of his gender, he said that, looking towards the future, it troubles him that unfair pay is an issue for women.

“This does concern me, in some ways it does benefit me because I will most likely be paid more than a female, but it could affect me in a negative way because my future wife might get paid less,” Puleo said.

As Evans looks to graduate this spring, searching for a job is already stressful, and she said that the prospect of being paid less than male coworkers adds to that.

“Getting a job out of college is so hard already and when you add in this factor that I’m a female and I’m going to be paid less that’s going to stress me out more because I’m going to have bills to pay and might not have the money I need,” Evans said.

It will be difficult to get a job right after college, Evans said, but she fears that if she is paid less as a female, she won’t have enough to pay bills. “That’s going to stress me out,” she added.

“With the interview process and seeing that I am just out of college I might not have the experience that others do but I hope to see myself somewhere in marketing and I hope to show them I have the skill base to bring the company to the next level,” Evans said.

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