I think that I have mentioned a couple of times that my husband is one of millions of people that are going to lose their job and be made redundant. For the moment, he is still on furlough. Because I am the one with the harder to get job (and usually the more job security), he follows my career around. This is quite normal in my industry, where one partner has a more flexible job than the other but less normal is that its a female head of household with a more flexible man and not the converse (even less normal would be two women). Of course, him losing his job freaks me out but also makes me more broad in my job search as I scramble to figure out how to (better) provide for us (again) on my solo income.
So I have been applying to a number of roles, and roles outside of what I normally apply for with no success thus far. These include private sector jobs, public sector jobs, and jobs in higher education. I have also applied for jobs in my home country, the country we used to live, the country where I currently live, and I am thinking about applying for a job in a country we have yet to live and is far far away.
So far, I have been blessed with two job interviews: one for a visiting “part time” position or a “side hustle” and one which would replace my current job and be a lateral move to a different institution. Meanwhile, my promotion application was suspended because the administration at my job “doesn’t have time for a meeting.” It is supposed to happen at some point in the future but no date is set.
I was also doing some reading for work in the middle of all of this and found the following:
In a randomized experiment, Moss-Racusin et al. (2012) asked 127 science faculty to evaluate resumés of identical applicants for a laboratory-manager position with randomly varied male and female names. Both male and female faculty rated the male as more competent and hirable, offering him a higher starting wage and more mentoring.
This is a classic CV experiment. There are a number of CV experiments out there but I happened to read this summary of this particular experiment after I had a meeting with the person responsible for hiring for one of the jobs I interviewed for.
At that meeting, the person told me that because of the COVID crisis, they were lucky enough to get a position AT ALL and that they had to beg and plead to hire. So first off the bat, I was lucky to be even sitting there and that I should count my blessings. Second, this person also told me that the only way that I could be hired at a salary (near) to what I might expect (they assumed) would be on pay equity grounds. In other words, my salary would not be based on anything to do with my own CV but based on what my male equivalent was making. This would be the only way that I could get anything above base salary and even then the strategy was iffy.
Of course the counterfactual male me in this story was known by the person making the (hypothetical) offer and not me. My counterfactual was unidentifiable to me. So, if I were to get the job, rather than trying to negotiate a salary on my salary expectations, I should just try to estimate what a male version of someone in their department with my experience might make and be happy with that fair and equitable offer. I also haven’t (yet) been given the offer and I don’t know if it’s because they found someone cheaper, better, or both. Days turn into nights and I am exhausted.
As the days pass, I wonder why the person told me that. Did they tell me to warn me that they just couldn’t afford me? Did they want to prepare me for the inevitable conversation where I have to check my expectations and agree to something more “reasonable?” Did they want me to feel like I was too expensive, and if so, why interview me in the first place?
Then my friend sent me this link about imposter syndrome and I have decided that I don’t like this levied diagnosis of mostly women (some men) and minorities any more. Imposter syndrome makes it sound like we just have to “lean in” more, do it more, and “do it better” more and make up for our “sickness” of a lack of confidence. It’s not confidence but experience that tells me I am only as good (if I am lucky) to some dude. In my last job, I started at a salary 5000 pounds less than my male contemporary for the same job. In this new hypothetical job, the stage was set that I might be able to swing what some unknown counterpart is making, but only thanks to those pesky “equity concerns.” I cannot even start to share with you how much I feel like this ignores my leadership potential. How starting jobs or job negotiations from a position of “you should be happy we even want you” is so fundamentally damaging to people’s spirits.
And worse of all, I need a new job to be a provider. Just as historically men needed good jobs to care for their families, I need that too, now. But no one really takes me seriously and I’m tired. I’m tired in a way that is more than exhaustion. I’m tired of having a syndrome I need to recover from or a negotiating strategy that finally breaks through the ceiling. And I’m writing this here because one way to gain financial independence is to make more money. And that is unequally hard.