The argument or debate about women in the work force is still raging, not in terms of them actually working, but about the pay they receive and how it is normally less than what a man working in an equivalent position would make. My opinion is that pay should absolutely be equal and not gender based. Many women work just as hard if not harder than men and they should be afforded equal opportunities to show their skills and receive ample compensation for their work. I have seen the bias of men versus women first hand. In my industry, myself being a painting contractor, it is almost a given that men do the work. How do I know this? Well, years ago, perhaps 5-6 at this point, my wife was working for me over the summer and one of the jobs I received was being subbed out to me by another contractor. When I told him that I was planning on bringing my wife, he asked politely that I not do that because the customer wouldn't "like" it. Now, I don't know if it was the customer or just his "old school" mentality that drove him to suggest that my wife shouldn't come. But it did happen, and I am sure it still happens to a certain extent now. Granted, some of the ladders and equipment that I have to move and use on a daily basis are cumbersome and heavy, but that doesn't mean a woman couldn't move them, it just might be difficult. My wife was always a hard worker and was one of the few that I could trust to work to my standards. That has always been one of the trickiest aspects of hiring someone to work for me; finding someone who can learn and execute what I ask and work to my standards. There have been many people who have tried working for me and could not pass muster. So, for the most part, I work for myself. This year, however, my wife who is a high school teacher asked if I wanted to be part of the internship program at her school. I figured why not. I would get a high school senior looking to work and on top of that it would be essentially 120 hours of free labor. Both my wife and I figured that one of the high school boys from the tech ed department would take the internship. Well, we were both wrong. Instead, one of her students who will be going to art school in the fall took the internship and she has so far proven herself to be a harder worker than all the young men I have hired.
It has only been a little over a week, but so far she listens well, works hard, and if there is every any down time, she is always asking if there is anything she can do. If she notices there is something that needs to get done, she asks and then executes. Even young men years older than her have had trouble working as hard as she has. Her skill level isn't where I need it to be yet, but it is a learning process and being an intern, I can take a little extra time to show her how to execute certain aspects of the daily work without worrying about losing money. Even after just a week, she has already asked if I need help over the summer and if she could have a job. Talk about motivated. She is only the second woman to work for me, my wife being the first. Comparing those two women to the other men I have hired, I am not sure if I want to hire another man to work for me. I know that not every woman would be willing to work as a painting contractor, but the same obviously holds true for men. There is just such a vast difference in work ethic that I don't know if I could go back to having some guy working for me.
I have never been one to discriminate based on a person's gender. I didn't grow up surrounded by the type of people who placed men as more important and harder workers than women. I was never subjected to the cultural stigma that women should not have certain jobs because they are women. At this point in my life, I am glad that I never had those discriminatory aspects in my life. I can now say I will afford equal opportunity to both men and women, but honestly, I might actually favor hiring a woman over a man now. In my world, the pendulum is swinging the opposite way. I won't discriminate against men for any reason, but I will now be more inclined to look for a woman to work for me instead of a man. My intern has obviously just started and time will tell if she can keep up, perform to my standards, and continue learning about the painting business. I have a feeling she won't have a problem though. This may be all new to her, but it would be new for any high school student. For now, I am relishing my free labor and seeing how girls can work harder than the boys.