On Sunday evening something incredible happened. A lot of incredible things, actually. But one of them involved a luxury car manufacturer spending at least $10 million to stand with women in their right to equal pay. The ad was beautifully filmed, heartwarming & poignant. Unlike its predecessors of Dove’s “#RealStrength” ad, Always’ “Like a Girl” campaign, Goldieblox’s Rube Goldberg “Princess Machine” video this one wasn’t from a company that sells “women’s products.” It’s told from the perspective of a father & tugged at my heartstrings. It reminded me of the victories & allies I’ve had in my own career in my quest for #equalpay & #equalrespect & #equalopportunity.
What I wasn’t prepared for was the criticism that has followed in the days since the Super Bowl. Of course there are the ignorant males that believe women already have equal pay or worse, disagree that women should have equal pay. They’re always there in the background. #noiseWhat surprised me, however, were the people who took to web to share that #equalpay isn’t enough. That Audi’s workforce is only 22% women. That there is still the issue that it’s very difficult for a woman to step away for a few years to have & raise children & return to her career & will still have a #genderearningsgap. That minority women still haven’t seen the successes white women have. That BMW has more women in leadership. And that the ad was gloomy.
We hear you. There is still work to be done. Understood & I’m with you. I ask, however, that we pause & appreciate what this car maker has done. When they could have touted the new features or the speed or superior performance they chose to make a stand with a group of people who are surely not their target market. And this is incredible. Can’t we just thank them for this step in the right direction & for this stand that they took with us.
“Can’t we just thank them for this step in the right direction & for this stand that they took with us.”
We all know that this is not a problem that Audi alone can solve but that we all are turning the tide on. More girls than ever are participating in STEM programs & have toys like Goldiblox, Roominate, all kinds of Legos (loving the female superheroes), Lottie Dolls, Project MC2, Doc McStuffins & the list goes on for exploration, imagination & learning. Young women are earning more bachelor’s & master’s degrees in general & the numbers are rising in engineering & the sciences. And more & more workplaces are designing benefits & environments to foster female advancement. Albeit slow, small steps but they’re steps.
Let’s not forget it was 2007 when Goodyear was willfully not paying Lily Ledbetter equal pay because they found a loophole in the law. They didn’t have the decency to pay her #equalpay simply on principle once their error was exposed. They appealed it, it went to the Supreme Court who called on Congress to correct the writing of the law for her to receive equal pay. This wasn’t in a previous generation; 2007 brought us the financial crisis & the iPhone.
As a female engineer at GA Tech I remember being one of three girls in a class of 83 students, nailing my senior design project (a robot, of course), getting hired by Jeep for an internship testing the engine cooling system of the Jeep Grand Cherokee. I also remember getting out into the real world & being devalued for my gender. Being the only female engineer at most of the places I worked. Thought less of. Sexually harassed. Underestimated. Underpaid. And when I stood up for myself, my intellect, my abilities, my rights, I was often standing alone. #notanymore
There were also many times where I was championed, mentored & given opportunities for my contribution, experience, drive & work ethic by peers & leaders who didn't classify or categorize by gender. I have experienced the both sides of this issue.
Indeed, there is so much more work to do. I propose we be about bringing our allies into the fold & thanking them for their support & their contribution to this fundamental cause. Then let’s get to work on these issues together. This is a journey we are all on & we all start somewhere.
Let’s stand for all that #equalpay encompasses. Let’s also stand for celebrating progress.
Thank you Audi. #DriveProgress