FREE NEWSLETTER

Odds Against

Jiab Wasserman

THE TOP COUNTRIES for gender-equal pay are Iceland, Norway and Finland, according to the World Economic Forum. As it happens, those three countries also rank among the top four countries for Gross National Happiness. The U.S. didn’t crack the top 10 on either list.

The gender wage gap is a major problem in the U.S.—and it affects all of us. Over half of American families are dual income. That means women not receiving their financial due impoverishes American families. That, in turn, puts pressure on men to earn more.

Yet it seems many folks are reluctant to admit we even have a problem. Ellevest’s 2018 Money Census found that, while 83% of women recognize that there’s a gender wage gap and fully acknowledge the financial and career inequalities women encounter on the job, only 61% of men agree.

Things clearly need to change at a faster pace. We need more aggressive investigation of wage discrepancy. We need corporations to create genuine opportunities for women and minorities to advance. We need more transparency in wages. Americans are simply too reluctant to share salary information, even as they broadcast every other detail of their lives. When I was working in Thailand as a foreign exchange dealer, all employees’ salary and bonuses were publicly disclosed at all levels.

But change, unfortunately, will take time. Until then, women need survival strategies, so they can succeed in the corporate world. For me, I was forced to find ways to advance, inch by inch, during my career, and keep a positive attitude and not lose faith along the way.

Most of all, I focused on what was best for my family and what we needed, rather than what we didn’t have. Quitting and having no pay—while it might have briefly felt good—paid no bills and would have left me in a worse position to advocate for change.

So I worked hard and was always willing to take on new projects. I kept myself open to learning new skills. If the company wouldn’t train me, I looked to learn on my own. That way, if an opportunity to advance came along, I was ready.

I kept in mind that, however fairly or unfairly I was paid, my career and salary would one day cease. I planned for this by saving diligently. Knowing that I got paid less than my male colleagues, I compensated by living frugally and saving as much as I could.

I also tried not to let the dings and setbacks get me down. I kept in mind my father’s advice when he coached me in tennis: “When you lose a point, focus on the next point. The last point is not relevant anymore.”

He also always encouraged me to “keep fighting. No matter how far behind you are, as long as the game is still being played, you still have a chance.” When I was declined a promotion, I quickly moved on. I focused on my next move or my next opportunity. I can’t claim it was easy. Before I landed my final position as a vice president of credit risk management, I had applied internally for 83 positions.

Jiab Wasserman recently retired at age 53 from her job as a financial analyst at a large bank. She and her husband, a retired high school teacher, currently live in Granada, Spain, and blog about financial and other aspects of retirement—as well as about relocating to another country—at YourThirdLife.com. This is the final article in a three-part series about the obstacles women face in the workplace. The previous installments were Mind the Gap and Not So Fast.

Do you enjoy HumbleDollar? Please support our work with a donation. Want to receive daily email alerts about new articles? Click here. How about getting our weekly newsletter? Sign up now.

Browse Articles

Subscribe
Notify of
5 Comments
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Mik Barbasol
Mik Barbasol
2 years ago

and yet you were still able to financially retire at age 53…shocking !!

Jiab Wasserman
Jiab Wasserman
2 years ago
Reply to  Mik Barbasol

Mike,
Thanks for your comment. How did I retired at 53? It is due to compounding. Please read John Lim “Grab the Roadmap”. https://humbledollar.com/2018/12/grab-the-roadmap/.

Mik Barbasol
Mik Barbasol
2 years ago

Question…please explain why companies don’t hire and promote more women if they work for less wages than men ??

David Baese
David Baese
2 years ago

Jiab,
I have no problem with your concern for equatable pay. However, I do not believe it is the cause of the high scores of Finland, Iceland, and Norway on the global happiness scales. Correlation is not causation. I think there are probably other factors. What kind of beer do they have?
Dave
P.S. A lot of my ancestors came from those countries.

David Baese
David Baese
2 years ago

Jiab,
I think you have to consider the historic cultural roles, the biological roles of women as nurturers and caregivers, and the fact that since the introduction of the birth control pill in the early 1960’s the global fertility rate per female has been halved. In Finland it’s now 1.6, Iceland is 1.8, and in Norway it’s 1.7. I cannot find statistics for women as primary caregivers for elderly parents and relatives, but I suspect the percentage of women vs. men in this role is significantly higher for women than it is for men. It is my observation that many women embrace these roles as unpaid nurturers and caregivers because they give significance and meaning to their lives. Because these roles are unpaid does not mean they do not have very great value. But as long as women embrace these roles and they continue to be unpaid we will continue to observe a significant lifetime difference in the earnings of males vs. females. This does not justify unequal pay for women over men in PAID employment.
Dave

Free Newsletter

SHARE