Today we have a guest editorial from Wendy Pastrick, co-chair of the Women in Technology Virtual Chapter. I asked Wendy to write on this simple statement: are women and men different? This week is filled with guest editorials that tackle this subject, and I hope you enjoy them. - Steve Jones
I was asked by the (in)famous Steve Jones (blog | @way0utwest) of SQLSever Central fame to address the issue of Women and Men and are we The Same or Different. Thank you, Steve, for allowing this opportunity to explore the roles of men and women in the modern day world.
A bit of disclaimer here: I am currently co-chair of the Women In Technology Virtual Chapter for the SQLPASS organization and also a member of IGNITE and the Chicago Chapter of Girls In Technology (GIT). I also hold a degree in Psychology and have spent time in many roles from Counselor to Administrative Assistant to Instructor to Database Administrator, and most recently, Consultant. I am pushing 40 years of age - mother of two - and have had the pleasure of watching technology come of age and become an invaluable part of almost everyone's life.
So, are men and women different?
Biologists will answer without hesitation "yes". The whole matter of X and Y chromosomes is enough evidence for them. Physiologists would also agree as bone and muscle structures (don't forget anatomy!) are also not the same. Why, then, is this such a difficult question that has perplexed civilization for thousands of years? Because the important question isn't about Men and Women and whether or not they are different. The question really is: should all People be treated equally? In my reality, the answer is very simple: YES.
Such a question encompasses all of humanity - gender, ethnicity, religion, etc. should not be a factor in determining if a particular person has the appropriate skills for a job. Feeling any kind of justification for paying a female employee anything less for the same job filled by a male employee is unethical at best. You might as well say you are going to pay Candidate A more because they have blue eyes and Candidate B has brown eyes, so they don't expect to be paid as well as blue eyed candidates. (Genetically, they ARE different...)
Now, having shared my thoughts on that note, I do believe people handle their careers differently. I don't see it so much as differences in men vs. women, but rather differences in socioeconomic standing and upbringing (for any other Pysch majors out there reading, yeah, here we go: Nature vs Nurture). If you take a good, honest look at how you were brought up and what history you were taught, those attitudes and accounts more than likely have shaped how you think about the other people around you and the way you believe the world works. Imagine a young girl given nothing but dolls to play with vs. a young boy given nothing but blocks. Kids are going to grow using the tools provided. What if the toys were switched? Do you think the girl would shun them? I don't. I think she would learn to play with them just the same way a boy would - building things, knocking them down and starting all over again. What if the parents couldn't afford dolls or blocks? I hope these few questions have you thinking. I don't want to write an entire dissertation here...just provide some fuel for thought.
Let's take a look at today's situation - men and women in technological roles. Are men paid more? Yes, they are. I'm living proof. Is there something women should/could do to change this? Absolutely. It comes down to choices. I wasn't happy to be employed and paid less than my peers. So, I made some choices - switched jobs, upgraded my skills. Guess what? Now I'm much more fairly compensated. Am I different from a man with the same skillset? Nope. Not one iota. Not as far as getting the job done is concerned. Other women in my role might have made different choices. I have two kids. I could have made the choice to stay home with my kids. I have a nanny instead. Men have to make the same choices, too - that doesn't make us different. Our society (upbringing, whatnot), however, makes it appear that our slate of choices are not the same. I call "FOUL!" and I believe many are with me on that. So, ladies and gentlemen, get out there and make some choices, but make them on your own terms and do what's right for you (and your family).
Really, in the end, I'm happy men and women are different. Actually, I'm happy people are different. All of the different cultures throughout the world make our planet a very rich environment. If you, or me, as a Person can be the best Person we can be, and appreciate the other People in our lives and in our communities, we can all continue to grow and prosper. Or, as quoted from Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure: Be Excellent to Each Other!