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Why the Gender Pay Gap Won’t Go Away

Just finished a phone call where I was trying to plan a road trip with my daughter, who lives out of state. What a frustrating experience it was. We faced one obstacle after another when trying to consider work hours and what weekend would work best for either of us.

And oh, there’s also the vacation time to consider. If you’re allotted one week worth of vacation, do you want to spend the entire time vacationing or should you save some days for emergencies?

There was a time when this whole process wasn’t so frustrating. I’d merely pack my bags and the kids’ bags and just get into the car and drive somewhere.

This brings to mind an article I was reading today about the problems that will abound when working mothers are forced to return to the workforce full-time. The change in their schedules that will presume, having to wake up early to drop the kids off at school and pick them up from daycare. Having to spend extra time commuting and trying to remember all the things they have to do before and after work. Sounds familiar.

There was a time when life was easy. When I had my sweet kids on a schedule and life ran smoothly. But then the spring would roll by again and I’d head to New York to work. Then the real trouble began: what summer schools to enroll the kids in, who would pick them up and send them to school every day. What a hassle. It was at this point that I would question whether the desire to return to work, to incorporate some independence in my life, was worth it.

Fast forward a few years later, and I file for divorce and end up a single mother of three. At this point, I had to go back to work full-time, which meant a nine-to-five full-time job where I was chained to my desk. How horrible. And there always seemed to be an emergency. I was on my phone constantly, troubleshooting and redirecting the kids in one form or another. One kid would call because they needed a ride somewhere, the other would call because he felt sick and the third had forgotten his wrestling clothes at home. What a harrowing time. I came to realize that the problem was never the kids. They were young and needed me. The problem was this workplace atmosphere where I was constantly made to feel as if I was inaccessible to the kids’ needs. I felt as if I had to constantly prove that I had things under control, that no, my time was never occupied by my children. It was at this point that I felt as if I was just winging it one day after another.

Same situation now that the children are older. We have to do somersaults to work around our schedules, and the short time we will have together. But once again, it’s not their fault. It’s this environment here in the US that makes you feel as if your job should be a top priority.

It shouldn’t have to be this way. And it’s only going to get worse when companies continue to demand that their employees return to their offices full-time, going to the extent to threaten them with restructuring strategies, mass layoffs, and employee terminations.

So this leads to the next issue: when will gender inequality and the pay gap become a thing of the past? Unfortunately, we’re not there quite yet, because America’s workforce continues to make its people choose between family or their jobs.

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