Equal Work for Equal Pay






















Wednesday, September 05, 2012


I like women.  I think of women as partners so when they do something stupid, I get as mad at them as I would at myself for the same mistake.  Wrong!  Women are partners ‘because’ they do things that I don’t do.  They get mad at me when I do something stupid and they are just as wrong. Neither one of us realizes that this is not a mistake, this is a solution.  When we were first born –Cro Magnon ~200,000 years ago- there were maybe 6 different breeds around all vying for survivability.  We won.  Everybody else died.  One of the reasons we won was because we divided up the responsibilities for survival and each one of us specialized in one group of things.  So now, we call the other gender ‘stupid’ because they see the world differently.  That’s stupid.

If you look at the Northwest corner of the United States, you’ll see a bunch of Indian Reservations beginning at Tatoosh Island and reaching, one after the other, down the Pacific Coast; Makah, Quileute, Quinault. They are all about 30 miles apart and the tribes used to live in the center.  That’s the way we lived when we were hunter/gathers.  They are 30 miles apart because that’s the distance you can travel, do work, and still come home at night; half the distance, 15 miles, not 30 miles. In mathematical terms, that’s called the radius and if you want to know how much land we had, you multiply the radius –half the distance- by itself then multiply that by 3 –actually pi (3.14159 SECANT TANGENT COSINE SINE!” (that’s the MIT football cheer (or would be if they had a football team.)))…soo…actually the answer is about 750 square miles that have been memorized by the men and boys of the eons old hunter/ gatherer society.  The watering holes and trails for predators and prey, trees for arrows, pushes for berries, and streams for fish, all stored in our 3 Dimensional memory.

A big joke with women is that men never stop and ask for directions when they get lost.  The joke with men is that we never get lost.  Except it’s not really a joke; it’s true. The reason we never get lost is because of the 750 square miles we memorized for thousands of years. We have been taking tests for 200,000 years on that small piece of property and everyone who failed the test, died.  The test is called, in fact, “Getting Lost”.  Of course, we’re still taking the test.  Some die every year in the snow, in the desert sand, lost in the mountains.  It’s infuriating!  There’s no reason for it.  We men have been creating 3 dimensional panoplies upon which our lives depended from the driest, barest scraps of information thousands upon thousands of years.  I can remember the instructions I was given by ‘the Men’, my father and his friends, when I was allowed to go bear hunting with them at 14.  Today, these many years later, I could go back and hunt that country with all the information that I would need and all the confidence that that information would provide.  Some still fail the test but all in all, we’re actually pretty good at finding our way around.

The reason men never get lost is because of the technique we use in our “spatial dimensioning” instinct. We start with a very large, high visibility landmark, then we go to a medium size landmark which refines the search, then finally, to a very small landmark which leads us to the precise location.  If you are stuck between the medium size landmark and the very small, it doesn’t mean you’re lost.  For instance, if I were telling a Mountain Man how to find Fort Laramie, Wyoming, I would say; head west until you come to the Mississippi River, take that north to the Missouri, go up the Missouri to Omaha take the Platte River west for two days, Fort Laramie will be on the right side of the river.


I won’t explain the birds and bees to you except to say they both use the same type of search techniques.


Another frustration has just been generated by the speeches at the Democratic National Convention. Speech after speech has at least mentioned the great battle cry, Equal Pay for Women! I have never heard a speech in which they described “pay”. My father described pay to me when I was about 10 years old; a personnel manager explained it to me when I was about 18; and references to this information have been made to me all my life. The curious and infuriating aspect of this experience is that no women seem to know it.





The life of a company depends upon the value of its employees increasing over the years as measured by “increased productivity”. While this is the responsibility of ‘management’, it is supposed that this will be carried over to the employees via training in computerized office skills, telecommunications, and modernized machine tool applications. In an ideal situation, all personnel will advance together.


When you begin to work for a company as a young man, you have almost no value. Therefore, it would be inappropriate and inconvenient to pay you what you’re worth. For 1000 years it has been assumed that your job was your trade. Having learned the trade during many years of hardship, it was also assumed that you would make your living for the rest of your life by your trade. While this is no longer precisely true, today as we change jobs many times over our working life, it is still true in general; you’re worth what you know. Therefore, the relationships among value to the company, pay, and working lifetime still apply.

It is assumed, as my father pointed out to me, that any pay to a person who knew as little as I did, was a gift. And as soon as I learned one end of the shovel from the other, then I would begin to earn the money he was now giving me as a gift. It was also assumed by my father and I, that one day I would be competent to manage the company. When that day came, my value to the company would be greater than my pay and as a consequence, the company would thrive.  The value of the employee to the company must be greater than the employees pay, or the company will fail.


This does not hold true for all jobs. There are seasonal jobs and temporary jobs which are such low value jobs that the pay for them will remain constant throughout the life of the company. If your responsibilities the first day on the job are the same as your last day on the job; you probably have such a job. If experience does not increase your efficiency; you probably have such a job. If you look around your department and you see people who are ready to retire and they are doing the same job as you; you probably have such a job.


This does not mean and should not mean that these are bad jobs. If this is your first job or your last job, if this is a part-time job, if this job is fun or lets you get out of the house or just meet people; this may be the ideal job. If your job is a hobby, fills otherwise empty hours, gives you an opportunity to help people; this may be the ideal job. But if you learn that the person sitting next to you is doing the same job as you yet is being paid twice as much; it may not be a question of equal pay for equal work. If they have an advanced degree in “Modern Management Techniques”, spent two years in Japan, and wrote a white paper on your company’s product; they may be on a different job trajectory.





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