I Am Not A Babe: Sexism, Women & Careers

“See you later, babe!”

I was recently in a situation where I was frequently interacting with journalists, and, in all seriousness, a man said this to me as he departed the room.

I actually felt shocked. Calling a woman “babe” seems reminiscent of 1950s greyscale detectives smoking cigars, not modern-day 2013. Although the journalist probably meant no harm,  it just made me feel like I was being patronized. Using “babe’ as a nickname might seem innocent, but it just detracts from my identity as an individual. “Babe” often connotes images of infants or children. This just helps perpetuate the stereotype women should be  dependent upon men.

I know this might seem strange, but it has been a while since I have experienced such a blatant form of sexism. I read about it frequently in the news. I  studied it in depth in university. I’ve sometimes felt my opinions weren’t respected in mostly-male working environments.

Yet sometimes I honestly forget that I am a women, in the sense that I  am often perceived as different. Inferior. Less intelligent. Less capable. Too emotional. The list goes on.

The experience made me think about my future career, and how this archaic view towards women might hinder it. Although our North American society has greatly improved, gender gaps in salaries unfortunately still do exist. According to recent Statistics Canada data, a woman, on average, earn 72 cents for every dollar a man earns.

It has been argued that this is because women don’t know how to negotiate for their wages. Yet often when women ask for something like a raise, they are seen as too demanding.  Or that these statistics don’t account for the fact that women apparently often choose to work in lower-paying fields.

However, starting salaries also often have a major discrepancy between wages. As well, even in the same job position, sometimes women still make less money.

I feel comforted slightly since women absolutely dominate my current chosen field, public relations. Selfish, I know.  I can’t imagine one good excuse for this gap, which should be completely unacceptable in 2013. Whether it be with women, visible minorities or other groups, we should be past a time where people are discriminating in their hiring practices.

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