When I Earn an Equal Salary to My Male Colleagues I Will…..

Have you be trying to figure out how to juggle day care, after school activities, house cleaning, errands, volunteering, exercising, cooking, saving for a home, saving for a new car, saving for college, saving for retirement, and saving for a vacation or two.   It becomes overwhelming trying to cram everything into 24 hours a day, 52 weeks a year, while you are only young for only so long and your kids are only kids for 18 years.  And don’t forget retirement is here before we know it.

One of the prevalent arguments for the salary inequality between the sexes is that women are not motivated by money so we don’t ask for the higher salaries.  We are so busy taking care of ourselves, our families, and our communities that we tend not to think in terms of dollars. And we think in terms of family before we even have the family.

Even before a woman has a partner to negotiate with, she might prioritize a flexible work schedule over money in anticipation of being a mother with a husband working out of the home, carrying the load of household labor that traditionally accompanies this household arrangement.   Bowles, Hannah Riley and Mcginn, Kathleen L Gender in Job Negotiations: A Two-Level Game. Cambridge, 2008.

Let’s say you accept that argument and agree that women are more motivated by community, especially the community of family.  Yet, could you put the money to use in a means to help the family if you were to make the same money as our male colleagues?

According to the US Census Bureau the median income for women in 2009 was $36,278 or 77% of the median income for men.  I’ll use this median income as a starting point.  In the first year, you would make approximately $11,000 more if you earned what the men earn

What would a woman who is motivated by her family do with $11,000?  One article indicates good day care can cost $800 per month is or $9600 for the year.  The $11K would more than cover a good daycare.  $11,000 would be a huge beginning for a mortgage down payment especially when the median cost for a house in the US during in March 2011 being $156,000

Now, let’s work for a few years and get a 3% raise each year while your male colleague gets a 3% annual raise as well.   In the fifth year, the annual difference is now over $12,000 but the cumulative difference in  $57,500.  That’s one year of tuition at Harvard.  Not that every child will go to Harvard but yours is that smart!

You’ve worked ten years for the same company and you find yourself $ 124,000 in the hole or $14,000 annually behind your male colleague.  Open up your time and hire a cleaning service for $100 week.  You still have more then $8,000 available and more importantly you are not spending your nights and weekends cleaning the bathroom, scrubbing the floors, or dusting.  Instead you get to actually spend more of your non-working time with your family.

Sure if you have kids it means chauffeuring them to karate, dance classes, little league, and guitar lesson but now you don’t have to worry if ants are setting up a new home in your kitchen because you know there are crumbs on the floor.  You may actually relax  (you remember relaxing) and enjoy your child’s joy of the game when not thinking of the hundreds of other things you need to do.  Don’t forget you have another $8,000 to spend on an errand service.

And if your family is a significant other and/or close friends you can spend the money going on a grand vacation and wonder if you should have a child, a spouse, more responsibilities, more hobbies, more friends, volunteer more, and so on.

Or maybe you will just spend it on therapy because you won’t know what to do when you actually earn what you are worth.  That’s an additional $515,000 over 30 years of 3% raises.    That’s probably enough to retire early.

@ Copyright 2011, Katie Donovan. All rights reserved. Reproduction without explicit permission is prohibited

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