Why Don’t We Care What Women Do?

Photographed by Anna Alexia Basile.
We need to start asking each other what we do.

It’s a widely known, and bizarrely accepted, fact that women
make less money than men. According to research conducted by the Institute for
Women's Policy
, white women workers only make $.77 cents for every $1.00 a white
male worker makes. Think that sucks? Well, minority women only make $.53 cents
to that dollar. And, this is expected to continue through 2057. Yep. For the next
42 years. On paper, this reads like a huge problem — a major injustice. So, why
doesn’t anyone care enough to do anything about it?

It’s with this
question that my friend and colleague Kristin Dudley, the brains behind Comcast’s talent marketing
squad and the voice behind The Entrepreneur
& The Organization
, started the #AskMeWhatIDo campaign, which
encourages women to post photos of themselves on social media accompanied by
descriptions of their professions. My newsfeeds were flooded with images and descriptions of amazing women from all over the country. It was wholly inspiring to see so many women who are proud of what they do and excited to share it with the world. Naturally, I got in on the fun:

Dudley
developed the #AskMeWhatIDo idea following a session
at SXSW called "She Rules: A Female
Leadership Panel," which
featured several prominent female business
leaders, including Kathryn Minshew (The Muse), Hannah
Chung (Sproutel), Mary
Margaret Connell (JWT), and
Brigadier General Lori Reynolds (U.S. Marine Corps). The discussion tackled several key
issues, including expectations of women, cultural experiences, and the continued
sense that women still
aren’t taken as seriously as men in the boardroom, or
when pitching to investors
.

The Muse’s Minshew was particularly
vocal. She revealed that whenever she accompanied her male friends to meetings,
she was never asked what she did for a living. Many simply assumed she was
the girlfriend or wife of one of the male techies, tagging along for fun.
Little did they know that she is the co-founder of a careers site that is
visited by nearly three million users per month. Why? Because they never asked.

"There are a lot of little behaviors
that, as women, we have come to just accept," Dudley told me. "We have to start bringing these actions to
the surface. Men don't know. They simply don't
know."

Of course, posting your picture on Twitter isn’t
going to solve the wage gap. But, the hope is that it may facilitate the conversations
that eventually will. Over the past few months, there have been several glimmers
of hope in this battle: Patricia Arquette's inspiring wage equality Oscar speech, Reese
Witherspoon's #AskHerMore campaign, Always' "Play Like a Girl" Super Bowl ad. But, the conversation can’t end when we turn
off our televisions. We need to continue to push this issue to the forefront.

So, whatever your gender, the next time you
attend a social event or sit next to a woman on a flight,
give her the opportunity to share by asking, “What do you do?” And, ladies, share your professions on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram using the #AskMeWhatIDo hashtag. Let's keep this conversation going.

Advertisement

More from Work & Money

R29 Original Series