October 29, 2012

You Get The Picture: We have to make changes from the ground up

LAUREL COUNTY, Ky. — Since I come from a long line of hard working women, and outspoken ones at that, I endorse that fact that a presidential candidate has asked for “binders full of women” to fill government positions — but that’s not going to solve the environment and the way we are viewed in the workforce.

My grandmother, Mary Lou Perdue, had my mother at a young age and continued her education even as a single mother.  She later co-owned the Checker Cab Co. with her husband, which is now largest cab company in Detroit.  My grandmother, Juanita McCrarey, grew up without a father deep in eastern Kentucky, sold moonshine as a kid with her uncle and left home at 16 for work in Detroit, Mich.  She raised three children while working long hours at General Motors (GM) and later retired to raise a cluster of grandchildren.

As I recently flipped through old photographs of my father’s grandmother, Vergie Adams, it was evident she too was a hard laborer.  She was a single mother who raised nine kids and her always tightly pursed lips certainly suggested self discipline, just as her neatly tucked in shirt and flawless, jet black hair did.  Even though her children and my grandmother were dirt poor, sleeping on straw beds and working long days farming their land, they believed themselves to be rich.  They were only rich in hope and spirit.

That spirit of perseverance and faith has carried through the generations and has been instilled within me.  I’ve been told I’m the only 23-year-old workaholic that many know and I graduated college at a young age.  On the contrary, I believe that I behave as any other young professional with my sights set on nothing but success through my hard work.  A recent statistic that barely shocked the pants off of me was that female graduates make $8,000 less than males -- go figure.

Many women still feel that they are the underdog in a man’s world, but it’s that mentality that’s holding them back.  I can find no rational reason why female graduates make less than males, but I do know that we work just as hard or harder.

I’m no feminist by any means. I don’t believe I would ever vote for a female president but am fine with female CEOs and leaders on a smaller scale.  

What really divides women from men in the workforce is their drive to support their families, while their hormones are working against them.  Perhaps women are too compassionate and care too much about how they will affect another when it comes down to making a harsh decision.  Maybe too many women leave work early to pick up their children from school or day care.  Overall, could it be that men just see us as weak because we are a little more in tune with our emotions than them?  Or do women lack the encouragement to take hold of their full potential and put their foot down for what they believe they deserve — even if it means confrontation?

Many CEOs, supervisors and managers need to take a good hard look at the way they treat their female employees, how little they are paid compared to the amount of work they accomplish and make changes from the ground up.  I don’t believe a future president can make any changes to the work environment, it clearly takes communities.  You cannot separate the “wo” from “men,” because without us multitasking powerhouses not a lot would get accomplished.  The tables have turned over the years and many women are becoming the breadwinners for families, according to a survey conducted by Prudential Financial.  

No matter who’s elected president, it’s up to us to change the way we are viewed in the workplace and begin to ask for what we deserve.

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Now that school is out, what are your family’s summer vacation plans?

A. No major plans. We will probably hang out around Laurel County.
B. Going to the beach!
C. Kentucky has a lot of wonderful state parks, and we plan to visit a few and enjoy quality family time.
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