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.

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