Equal Pay: balance, justice or the beginning of female domain.
By Filipa Larangeira, CEO at Newmanity
Big day for Humanity, in particular for Iceland's men and women! Iceland has become the first country in the world to mandate that women receive the same pay as their male colleagues for doing the same work.
After my initial excitement, some operational questions popped into my mind:
"How is it that, in this new multifaceted, complex and fast-changing workforce, public authorities that are completely oblivious to private sector dynamics, plan to assess when two people are performing the same work ?" and "What if a woman is better than a man - or the other way around - performing the same work?"
I saw the news after reading one more chapter of Sheryl Sandberg's great book "Lean in" (there are no coincidences, right?!:)). Sheryl was describing an occasion in 1947 in which Anita Summers got a job at Standard Oil Company and was told by her new manager - a man - the following: "I got the same brain for less money!". At the time Anita saw this as a compliment since she was being told she was as smart as a man (!).
Some may smile when reading this, but the truth is we are not that far from that paradigm.
Some months ago I was a speaker at a "Women in Tech" panel surrounded by 4 other female leaders and entrepreneurs. At some point, one of the panel speakers said something that surprised most of the audience (including myself): "I wouldn't dare to go to an investor's meeting without a man. We all know that men are better negotiating and speaking about numbers."
Do we? I really cannot find any scientific evidence that supports this argument. Actually, I believe that women are better when it comes to persuasion. Here are my two cents:
The Historical argument:
Women were oppressed by men for centuries, so the only way they found to impose their will was through manipulation (the evil sister of persuasion). It's true that part of that process was done using sexual power but words played a strong part on it.
The Biological argument:
According to some studies it has been claimed that women speak about 13,000 more words a day than the average man. Some say it's because they have more protein in a certain part of the brain, while others suggest it's because men don't listen the first time (:)). Either way, we speak A LOT. So chances are we have mastered the art of speaking.
I was about to crucify this female speaker when my conscious hit me: "Who are you to judge her, girl! You have been playing small for nearly all your existence! "
From dressing low profile in order not to distract men at work, being sucked into toxic relationships (over and over again!) to playing extra-nice so that other women wouldn't feel intimidated by my strength, I did it all. No wonder.
For centuries women - especially in Latin countries - have been told to follow the "good-girl book" and this encompassed strict lessons on how one should look behave, and of course, think.
And we, the good students, the caretakers, the nurturers, in order to please, to be loved, to be acknowledged, we took it all in.
We've been told that we needed to be good daughters, good moms, that we MUST want to have kids, that we MUST know how to cook and clean, that we SHOULDN'T have too many relationships otherwise we will get labeled as "Not marriage material" and that eventually, we SHOULD want to get married to a guy - our "Better-half" - that PROTECTS US (!!!) and fulfills that incomplete part of us ( this is me being completely sarcastic! ;)).
The worst part of this sad book of lies is the chapter about how we must compete and surpass other women in order to get the ultimate prize: the male's validation. And by male I mean our current society, still ruled according to standards defined by men. Not for long.
Generations of women drank from this poison and, little by little, got their personal power imprisoned by fear, mistrust, loneliness, and disbelief. But then the feminist movement came! Bless be all those women - and men! - that fought for our rights.
A new female archetype was born: the modern superwoman! This woman has it all!
At least on paper or according to Instagram pictures.
She's got the family, or if not, she is incredibly successful in her career, working 24/ 7 to prove that her male counterparts got nothing on her. If she is lucky and worthy enough she will be considered as "Women in Tech".
She also has the ultimate kitchen appliances, she travels all the time to improve her social media traction, she has a super fit body, a brand new iPhone with cool mobile covers and of course she has shiny white teeth. She wears all the influencers clothes, she became an influencer herself, she shops until her credit card drops, she blogs about superficial stuff or made-up realities and in between she... cries.
She cries alone and desperate to find her freaking identity, underneath all these layers of socially imposed crap.
She is constantly angry or anxious about everything and anything. She yells at her kids and feels guilty right away for being such a lousy mother. She cannot find a truly good partner or even a solid friend with whom she can share her inner demons. She never EVER asks for help, or dares to be "emotional" at the office (God forbids! "They" would think you are weak!), and eventually, when no more options are available, she starts paying a therapist to tell her that the key to solving all her problems lies in her dysfunctional childhood. No sh$t, Sherlock!
After uselessly blaming her parents not only she feels guilty about it but she feels even more angry about her existence. There must be someone else to blame...MEN! They were the ones that led this society to become so stupidly competitive, disconnected, unsustainable, greedy, ruthless and inhuman.
Then one day, God makes her a mother of a beautiful boy whom she has to raise in the middle of so many other socially imposed atrocities such as "boys cannot wear pink", "boys don't cry", "boys have to be better than other boys", "boys do not attend ballet classes" and so on.
At that point, she realizes that gender bias is everywhere, in the History of women and men, oppressing both genders but mostly imprisoning our true human nature.
This is when she finally understands what feminism really means: authenticity, compassion, cooperation, and balance.
You can say that men started all of this but my feminine intuition (and superpower) tells me that, if we don't start acting differently we will get the same results, but this time around, with women leading the world. And believe me! They (we) will lead and it will not take long.
I guess that for now and from a human rights standpoint, we should just celebrate this massive victory in Iceland and trust that we've learned from the mistakes done by men.
Let this be the start of a new world order ruled by universal human values.