As evolved as we would like to think we are in this day and age, the fact remains that in much of the industrialized world, women are often still not valued at the same level as men. Women who do not work outside the home are often perceived as sitting around watching soap operas and eating bonbons during the day. Women who do take time away from their careers to raise children have a difficult, if not impossible, time making up lost ground in terms of pay and retirement savings. These types of “no–win” scenarios can lead women to feel like second-class citizens and cause stress and hopelessness.
A recent survey by the National Association of Female Executives showed that there is a $30,000/year pay gap between men and women across a spectrum of industries in the United States. When you think about the number of single-parent families in the USA, the vast majority of them have a woman as the head of household. This income disparity can add to an already full plate of stress and anxiety as they feel the need to work longer hours to earn more money to keep their family budgets afloat.
Deb’s first job out of college was as an instructor pilot in the United States Air Force. She taught the other airmen to fly T38 jets in preparation for combat missions. The natural progression for many of her colleagues in the civilian world was to trade their military aviation experience for a position as a commercial airline pilot. Deb had many friends, including her husband, who made this their career after the Air Force. But many of her female friends who went this route found themselves in something of a quandary when they decided to start their families. Everything in the commercial aviation industry is built on hours flown and seniority – from how much you got paid, to vacation time, to route selection, etc. The airlines also mandated that a pregnant pilot could only fly up to a certain point in her pregnancy and had to take a minimum amount of time of leave after each child was born – regardless if they had a spouse who was willing to stay home after the baby was born. With each child that was born, the female pilot would find herself getting further and further behind her male counterparts – through no other cause than her gender (and her desire to have children). This is just one example where the “2nd Class Setback” can cause women stress and anxiety and make them feel like they just don’t measure up.