Many mothers in the US lament the fact that, on average, women don't earn as much money as men. Some of these mothers sound frustrated. Some don't seem to understand the factors that influence pay. Some assume that employers conspire against them at worst, or unconscious biases exist at the very least. They feel underappreciated.
There are other mothers who rarely mention this topic. Some of them are earning substantial incomes, working hard to manage demanding careers, and feeling adequately appreciated in the workplace. They are living a different reality and wonder why other women complain.
Why is this? Why do some mothers feel underappreciated while others feel valued and well-compensated? There are probably many reasons, but one of them is that women sometimes receive different kinds of coaching and encouragement than men as they prepare for their careers. I write about this in the Working Parent Story Beyond the Benefits. Sheryl Sandberg writes about it in her book Lean In. It seems that many boys and men are advised to consider compensation expectations as they prepare for careers, but not as many girls and women receive that kind of advice. Too many women are encouraged to prepare for careers without considering the financial ramifications of their choices, and then they are surprised to learn that the jobs they qualilfy for don't pay well.
If women were to approach career preparation differently, it's likely that mothers would opt out of the workplace less often and feel more appreciated on the job. When advising girls and young women, parents, teachers and mentors may want to ask themselves the question, "Would I give this advice to a boy or young man?" And if not, they should think about whether the girl or young woman deserves more.
If you fear you may not be compensated fairly or your career may not be heading in the right direction, ask yourself this question: If men don't want my job, why do I?
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