Respect: A different type of inequality in the workplace

By Lindsay Marks |

I’ve been a cashier, waitress, factory rat and a pizza maker. I could not list one job where I wasn’t confronted with the situation where I wonder, “Do I say something?” My male bosses call me beautiful, male employees call me “sweetie,” and there have been a few instances of “Boy, if I was 20 years younger …”

All things I hear on a daily basis. Yes, they are compliments, but I don’t hear my male fellow employees being greeted as “handsome” and “studs.”

As a senior, my career after college is a subject that is on my mind just about every second of every day. Many of my professors address the inequalities of male and female members of the work place. They will address the income situation first. Some will say that men, overall, earn more than women. Others will note that they are being paid more equally, it’s the types of jobs that men and women hold that are different. Some professors build us women up and say that we are becoming the more dominant professional gender. The fact is, I don’t know what to believe.

Of course I want to earn an equal pay as my male counterpart. I also don’t want to lose an opportunity for a professional position due to my gender. However, I feel that this other form of inequality isn’t being given the same concern.

Recently, I was confronted with a situation that was coming very close to the line of sexual harassment. I was troubled with the, “Do I say something? Do I act on this?” situation that I am always hit with when something like this happens. I make good money waitressing part-time. Having to pay all of my bills in college, as well as going to college and keeping up with internships is much more than a full load. And I felt as though I couldn’t risk my job for some added self-respect.

This is not to say that I have stood by while gender-biased comments were hurled at my face. I’ve picked my battles and I’ve stuck up for myself on many occasions with great integrity. But that’s just it. I’ve been forced to pick my battles.

I see my fellow female coworkers enduring the same type of over complimenting that I have dealt with constantly. We are not in grave danger, nor do we feel threatened. However, I could write a novel with the amount of instances where I was addressed in a non-professional manner because I am a woman. Whether it is from a customer, coworker or supervisor, the comments are constant.

So far, I’ve been getting paid as much as the males I work with. Clearly this may change when I come into a salary position, but as of now, my professional equality is pretty much standard. I think, as a society, we are moving into a place where women are being respected professionally and compensated respectfully as a result. Now it’s time to change the attitudes.

No, I am not a pretty face that you can make comments to just because I’m a woman. I am a waitress simply serving your food or doing my job. No woman should have to pick her battles on what is crossing the line of her self-respect and what is worth causing a fuss over. This isn’t to say that men are not equally objectified, but in my few years experience of dabbing around the work force, I’ve noticed that being a woman has some pretty significant obstacles as far as what is said to your face (and forget what is undoubtedly said behind my back.)

So yes, I’m going to get a little Aretha Franklyn on you here. But all I’m askin’ for is a lil’ respect. So many men will say they agree that women should be paid equally and should have equal rights in the work place. But it’s time that the respect factors in, and that the attitudes reflect the equality we are supposedly reaching. Please don’t call be baby if you would be uncomfortable with someone calling your daughter that at work.

Women have come so far to be considered equal and we certainly can’t stop at “good enough.” The emotional aspect of inequality needs to be addressed as much as monetary inequality. And I tell you what, if I get called darling one more time …

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