The following is a post submitted to me by a friend of one of our bloggers, who will remain anonymous.
Growing up I always heard about the "Glass Ceiling" and, it is true that even today a vast discrepancy is apparent in the entertainment industry as well as many others. In fact, the gap is apparent across wages for all race and education levels. I know that my salary is within the range acceptable for my level of education and work experience, but that range is quite broad spanning over $50,000 when viewed on glassdoor.com. Now in my fifth year and working for industry, I can't help but wonder, "Is this gender thing affecting me?"
Heading out to lunch with a work friend last week I tried to broach the subject of performance reviews, pay grades, etc in my new role. I'd recently transferred into the facility I where I work and he'd been there for five years having just been promoted to management. I knew him even while working at my last site, so I figured he'd have a good perspective and I trusted our relationship enough to for him to know I wasn't just being whinny. It also helped that I was not a direct report of his so I didn't feel like I was applying any pressure for him to make a case for me to get a raise or some such thing. That was why it really bugged me when I heard the following in relation to our debate over my company's segmentation policy used during performance outcome discussions.
"Well, you know some people want to spend time with their families, but if others are working more then they get to be rewarded."
"Yes, I want to spend time with my family and NO that doesn't mean I don't work my a** off." I really wanted to scream that at him. Of course, I did not. I can't even remember what I did say. I was too shocked. I'm sure it was something about the system really not being fair to all work situations.
Now part of me wants to think, he didn't mean it that way and even if it was an affront to working moms (and dads!), it's only one guy. Then that other part of me (the paranoid?) part creeps in and starts to think about my last year of work. That is, my child recently turned one, and it's only the last year that I've had to think about how being a mom affects my work performance and/or how others view how I'm doing at work.
Well, I've thought about it and I'm coming up with a couple of not so happy conclusions. First, my company, with the exception of my maternity leave, got more of my time not less. I worked more nights and Saturdays in the last year to make sure I was "on the ball" than I ever did prior to having a baby. It was not easy, but I did it. I met all goals put forth to me, and exceeded some others by working on tasks outside of those assigned directly. Second, I strongly believe my last year's evaluation was compared to other people at the same level who actually worked a full year and there was no consideration taken in for that fact that I was gone for 3 months. In other words, I'm pretty sure that my 9 months of outcomes was set against other peoples 12 months of outcomes and that's where (not necessarily why) I got the ranking I got. By the way my ranking wasn't bad nor was it "Outstanding." It is really important that I stress this is how I feel and not what I know. I don't know crap - I'm too scared to even ask.
"What am I so scared of," you may ask.
First of all I'm the main moneymaker in our house and my (amazing, wonderful, caring, loving) husband is the one with the part-time job and stay at home during the week with our kid roll. On some level, I guess I'm scared of loosing my job? I'd also like to think I'm no "Impostor." I am confident that I could, even in this week economy, get a new job with pay enough to support my family. So no, loosing my job isn't really it.
I'm scared that making waves now will loose me a promotion, raise, or cool job assignment in the future. In fact, I have a pretty darn cool job assignment now. I mostly love my job and have really nice people who work with me. I also worked hard to get myself this nice job having gone to school 8 years straight to earn my BS then PhD, as well as having recently transferred out from a job that I could do well, but really rather hated. Love my job; am uncertain about my manager. For that matter, I am uncertain about the larger corporation that I work within.
That leaves me a bit peeved at myself for being a wimp about this whole idea of 1) maternity leave maybe having negatively impacted this year's pay potential, and 2) not knowing and being too scared to ask where my salary lies compared to my male counterparts doing the same job. The scariest part is my company reminds me of MIT in the 90's when I look up the food chain so to speak at higher level scientists and engineers. There's a problem, everyone says that it's a pipeline problem, but the pipe LEAKS for a reason. The root causes of that leak are not, in my opinion, being adequately addressed.
That's the kicker - I get good reviews and good bonuses, but not great. I exceed expectations but have yet to see a promotion as an outcome of "surprising people at how fast I come up to speed". Ugh, the fact that the comment has been used multiple times in the last five years is frustrating in and of itself. Why do I surprise people when I learn a new technology quickly, and take steps to advance my projects while still getting buy in from everyone? I'm trained to do that!
Now don't get me wrong, my advanced degree gets me half way up that ladder because I was hired in at a higher level, but have I already hit a ceiling in my organization? or am I on track / breaking through and just haven't given myself enough time in one position or function to get a promotion? Admittedly, I have changed roles a lot, however, I came in through a rotational program. It was the PLAN to change roles and it's made me a better fit for my current role. Should that really go against me? Yes, there it is. I have been working almost 5 years and have not been promoted. I have seen people I consider peers (although not all my peers) get that promotion in the last six months.
I have talked to my direct manager twice about the timing of getting a promotion (last November and again in January - it is now March). I also brought up the point with a coach within my business who is not in my direct reporting line. I have not seen any progress or timeline or plan, other than the one I put together myself. I have also not been told "no" or told anything "useful" other than my manager will bring it up (i.e. with my boss's boss).
Now I don't think my boss is a jerk or a misogynist. My boss is a good person, with a family and a say at home partner just like me. A person who I feel empathizes with my situation, but is also new in the role of manager and perhaps this is the first time broaching promotion planning with an employee. Note, these are all facts for enhanced perspecitive and not excuses for lack of action. Unfortunately, the only clear point from our discussions thus far is that I should not bring it up to my boss's boss myself. If I bring it up again and I continue(from my perspective) to see no action, my "three strikes your out"mentality will make me want to leave the company. Leaving will put me and my family in an unplanned turmoil both mentally and financially - is it worth the risk to ask again?
Anyone out there got some advice? I'd really rather not dwell on it anymore.
One last thought... Is my complacency (and that of other women like me in the organization) in this stage of our career a root cause of the above noted leaky pipeline? A friend, now working for a different corporation but who previously worked for mine recently proclaimed that she was thankful for those who came before her. She didn't have time to be a trailblazer. Well, I work on average 10hrs a day and spend every other waking moment enjoying time with my family which happens to have a very active toddler in it, so I don't have the energy. Could some past trailblazers tell me how you managed?
Speak of the toddler, it is the weekend and nap time is over. Time to go enjoy life!
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