Some time ago, I attended a “Women in Leadership” conference put on by one of Ontario’s larger unions.  Wheat I learned there disillusioned two parts of me: the labour part and the feminist part. Read the rest of this entry »

Useless Humanities

That a humanities degree is useless for the workforce says more about our workforce than the degree.  It says that we value, that we’ll pay for, someone to provide cars, electric toothbrushes, and running shoes.  But not beauty and insight.

It doesn’t have to be that way.  Read the rest of this entry »

The Sexism Compensation Index (SCI)

I suspect that even with today’s rigorous interview and job performance appraisal techniques, which require that all applicants be asked and scored on the same questions, multiple standards still interfere with merit as the sole criterion for hiring and promotion.

How? Well suppose Read the rest of this entry »

Wedding Leave

I recently discovered that my workplace has ‘wedding leave’: apparently you can get up to three days off—with pay. What the fuck is going on here?

I mean, what’s a wedding? It’s just a big party. Should employees be allowed to have personal parties on company time? I think not.

Oh, but it’s a once-in-a-lifetime party. Well, no, Read the rest of this entry »

My Job, My Self

I’m intrigued by the psychological devastation that seems to accompany layoffs, not to mention ordinary unemployment, as well as underemployment. It doesn’t seem to be just a matter of money – it seems to be a matter of self-worth, self-esteem; personal identity seems to be at stake.

It’s an intriguing claim: one is what one does for money. And I suppose that insofar as one chooses what one does, it’s valid. But Read the rest of this entry »

Paying Stay-at-Home Moms

Every now and then, we hear the proposal that women be paid to stay at home and be moms.  That women are paid to be surrogate mothers suggests that regular mothers also deserve payment.  So.  Should we pay regular mothers the same as surrogate mothers?

For starters, who is this ‘we’?  Surrogate mothers are paid by the people who want their labor.  Who wants the children of non-surrogate mothers?  The state?  If so, for what?  There is no civil service labor shortage.  We aren’t at war.  And if we were, we would need more soldiers, not more children.  So the job paid for should be not ‘making a child’ but ‘making a soldier’.

Because if we’re going to pay, it would be a job.  You’d have to wait for an opening and then apply.  So not only would the state, should it be the employer of mothers, have the right to be quite specific about the job description (“Women wanted to make soldiers”), it would have the right to be quite specific about the qualifications (“genetic make-up must include average IQ or lower, above average physical health and fitness, pliant personality….”).  And it would have the right to be quite specific about the performance standards – no drinking on the job, or substance abuse of any kind except that prescribed by the employer, etc.

You want to be paid for being a mother?  Well, he who pays the piper picks the tune.

The Part-time Ghetto

What is the difference between people with part-time jobs and people with full-time jobs?

If you’re part-time, you don’t get sick days (so when you’re sick for a day, you lose a day’s pay); you don’t get time and a half for overtime (time and a half starts after 44 hours, not after the numbers of hours you’ve been hired to work); you don’t get seniority (it simply doesn’t apply to part-timers); you have to pay for your own dentist appointments, your prescription drugs, and your glasses (so you don’t make dentist appointments just for check-ups, you don’t buy prescription drugs unless they’re absolutely essential, and your glasses are for your eyes of five years ago); and your only pension plan is the CPP and whatever you save on your own (which is not a lot if you’re only part-time).

But more significant than these monetary differences are the differences in your perceived value: your input is less often solicited, whether regarding shift schedules or company policy; your work is thought to be less important, no matter what you’re doing (your paycheque is thought to be less important too, so you often have to wait longer for it); you’re automatically considered a beginner who needs more supervision, who’s expected to ‘prove’ herself; in short, if you’re part-time, you don’t get treated or taken seriously. And don’t kid yourself – the differences exist along the whole job spectrum: the differences between the part-time and full-time waitresses are the same as the differences between the part-time and full-time professors. Read the rest of this entry »

Being Unprofessional

As in exhibiting ‘unprofessional behaviour’ or wearing ‘unprofessional attire’. As in something ‘not good’. As in ’cause for dismissal’. Given that extreme consequence, we’d better define ‘unprofessional’. Easier said than done.

The word ‘professional’ means, literally, ‘pertaining to the profession’. Not helpful. Let’s assume that the profession’s standards are being referred to, standards which, presumably, identify a certain minimum regarding quality of performance. For example, good counselling depends on trust; specifically, for example, the counsellee trusts the counsellor not to tell others what has been discussed during the session. Therefore, a counsellor who fails to maintain confidentiality is being unprofessional. To mention another example, it is incontestable that certain professions are best carried out when their practitioners do not accept bribes. So if a police officer or a lawyer did accept a bribe, s/he would be guilty of unprofessional behaviour. So far, so good. Read the rest of this entry »

Casual Day at The Office

Every second Friday is ‘Casual Day’ at the office–the principal lets us wear jeans to school. I need two degrees to do my job, but apparently I just can’t seem to dress myself.

In addition to that of infantilizing the subordinates, Causal Day underscores the tradition of hypocrisy, the tradition of pretending: financial advisors who work on your portfolio at home probably do most of their work in jeans and a sweatshirt; they just change, they just put on the facade, the uniform of authority and competence, when they’re in their office. Do they think we’re idiots? Do they think we judge a book by its cover, do they think we’re fooled that easily?

Well, yes, they do. And they’re right. Behold the power of a suitcoat and tie: it says ‘I’m to be respected’. Anyone up on charges who borrows a suit for his day in court knows that. Oh, but the judge would be a fool to be suckered in by that. Yes–and so are we. Read the rest of this entry »