To better understand the people behind the data that economic analyst James Chung has studied, The Eagle asked women in the Wichita workforce to answer questions about their experiences. Nearly 200 Wichita women participated.
The women who answered the query work in a variety of fields with a wide range of salaries, and their work experience ranged from less than a year to more than 20 years. The majority were college educated.
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About half said they did not have the opportunity in Wichita to move up the ladder in their field, and nearly half said they were considering leaving Wichita for various reasons, ranging from educational opportunities and family reasons to job opportunities for them or a spouse.
More than half said they often are expected to do things outside their job description that are considered traditional women’s duties, such as arranging birthday lunches, ordering cake or flowers or asking everyone in the office to sign a retirement card.
Here is a selection of their responses to survey questions.
Tell us about any experiences you’ve had in the workforce where you felt discriminated against or uncomfortable for being a woman.
“Not a regular participant in the office fantasy football league, not ever invited or welcome, therefore I don’t get the ‘boys club’ bonding time and am not a part of their little club which makes them so close.”
“Being a breastfeeding mother while working full-time has been tough. I don’t feel like there is enough support for this throughout the community. For instance, the brand new airport doesn’t even include a pump room. Also, I wish my company and others offered paid maternity leave. It’s a huge financial burden to have a child especially without having any paid maternity leave.”
“I’m African American and my co-workers and boss always have snide comments when I wear my hair natural.”
“I have worked in a predominantly female heavy field. Luckily no discrimination issues.”
“I work with a wonderful, accommodating staff. I breastfeed, and my employer allows me to pump in a private area.”
“Mansplaining, subtly sexist remarks (‘like a girl’), being micromanaged on tasks I clearly know how to do, and being told ‘no’ on my ideas that then get approved when my male counterparts ask.”
“I gave a peer presentation this past year and was told I needed to smile more. The subject matter I was presenting was not something that was light or humorous. I realized that they would have never made that critique of a male co-worker.”
“None in my current position, but at a previous employer, yes. I once found out that a male in the same position as me made more than twice as much as I did, even though I had worked there several years longer than him and had actually hired him. I threw a huge fit and ended up getting a raise to the same level that he was at. I had to threaten court action to make this happen, however.”
“I was laid off on maternity leave. It was ‘legal’ because the company did not fall under FMLA standards. I was told they just eliminated my position, but it was fishy that they would decide that while I was away on maternity leave.”
If you have been a stay-at-home mom, how do you think the time spent outside the workforce affected your career once you went back to work?
“It made me really resent how much money I was bringing home versus how much time I was spending with my child.”
“Lost time=lost experience=less wages.”
“My workplace was flexible and helped me balance after having baby.”
“I’ve always focused on my career. As a woman, I feel like I’ve missed out on a huge part of womanhood.”
“I lost wages by taking time off to have children.”