Shannon Kelley

Shannon Kelley
Santa Barbara, California, USA
June 11
Shannon Kelley and her mother Barbara Kelley are both journalists, and have just written a book called "Undecided". Together. (...Right??) This blog is a taste of what you'll find in "Undecided", a book about choice overload, analysis paralysis, grass is greener syndrome, longing for the road not traveled, and how the success of the women’s movement has left women stumped in the face of limitless options — and how to get over it. The book comes out on May 3: if you like what you're reading here, get the book here: And subscribe to our blog here:


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MARCH 20, 2012 12:29PM

New Generation, Same Story?

Rate: 7 Flag

Bryce Covert’s recent post on The Nation’s website got me thinking today. It’s about an Accenture survey of Gen Y working women which found that

-they have the most positive outlook for women in the workplace of any other generation.

And yet:

-when it comes to their careers, they’re less likely to proactively manage their career or ask for a raise than their male counterparts.


-they feel underpaid,

-and have found that their careers take a bigger hit than their male counterparts’ once they become parents.

Whew. That’s one hell of a disconnect, wouldn’t you say? While I’m generally an unrepentant optimist, the type to blow sunshine up even the crankiest of derrieres until I get a smile, a study like this makes me question my approach. A positive attitude is well and good, but, when young women declare themselves optimistic about women in the workplace in the very same survey in which they point out gender-based inequities, you kinda gotta worry. Sunshine is good; complacency, not so much.

The trouble is the message we women have been fed: that feminism’s work is over; the battle won. That’s where that sense of optimism comes in, I’d argue. I myself went to an all-girls high school, not too (too too) terribly long ago, and spent my four plaid-skirted years surrounded by the enthusiastic and inspiring message that girls could do anything boys could do. Which is good, of course–because it’s true. Save for peeing one’s name in the snow.

But there’s a little bit of trouble with that approach. One: that you enter the real world largely unprepared for the injustices you will, (yes, I said WILL) come up against as a woman. And two: that when you do come up against them, you will assume they have only to do with you. That the situation–your lesser paycheck; your unwillingness to “proactively manage your career or ask for a raise” for fear of bias or judgment; your employer’s subtly shifting opportunities away once you’ve become a mom or the discrimination you’ll face if you don’t have kids–and the fact that your male counterpart in either of those scenarios will likely be rewarded, seen as either a dependable family man or a guy who has the time to devote to his job, where you’ll be perceived a flight risk or cold and odd, respectively; the realization that if you want a killer career and your husband wants a killer career and you want kids you’re in for a daily struggle that may well lead to one of you “opting” out; that if, against these formidable odds, you do make it to the very top, you will find yourself wildly outnumbered–is merely your problem. That it is personal, and not political. When, of course, it is exactly that. It is collective and it is political–and change happens when we’re willing to see it that way.

Don’t get me wrong: We have come a long way (baby). Think about this: when my mom graduated from college, it was still totally legal for employment want-ads to be segregated by gender. A company could list a managerial job in the men’s want-ads, a secretarial one in the women’s. This was not the dark ages; this was the 1970s.  So clearly we’ve come a tremendous way since disco inferno.

But the fact that we’ve come so far does not mean that our work here is finished. The fact that we have much to be grateful for in no way precludes the many things we should be angry about. Take that pay gap, for example:

U.S. Department of Education data show that a year out of school, despite having earned higher college GPAs in every subject, young women will take home, on average across all professions, just 80 percent of what their male colleagues do… Motherhood has long been the explanation for the persistent pay gap, yet a decade out of college, full-time working women who haven’t had children still make 77 cents on the male dollar.

April 17 of this year is Equal Pay Day. Don’t let the delightful sounding name fool ya, though: that’s the day that a woman’s salary catches up to a man’s… from last year. For doing the same job. Another way to look at that is like this: taken as a whole, from January through April 17, women are working for free.

So, clearly, we still have a hell of a way to go.

Or, I suppose, maybe I should rephrase: the world still has a hell of a way to go.

But who is going to be responsible for steering it in the right direction?

It occurs to me that perhaps these young women are right in their optimism–or here’s my Pollyanna side’s spin, anyway:  for centuries, men’s roles have not changed. Whether buffalo or bacon, they were to bring it home. They were the hunters. They were to provide.

Women, on the other hand, have always adapted–whether when acting the gatherers, surveying the environment to see what it had in store and shifting the game plan accordingly, or to a male-dominated workplace in which we nevertheless were able to ascend, bit by bit, to the point where we are today. We had to fight for the right to wear pants, for craps sake. Now, how many pairs of jeans are in your closet? Change is in our DNA. The office, corporate culture, political institutions — these things aren’t going to change themselves.

The angry part of me and the Pollyanna part come together in the faith that these women will eventually get angry on their own behalf: and once that happens, they’ll see the rest of us, and they’ll join us. And then we’ll do what we’ve always done. We’ll change things. A little anger will help. And so will a little optimism.

Tagged: accenture, Bryce Covert, Equal Pay Day, Gen Y, gender pay gap, maternal wall, opting out, The Nation, U.S. Department of Education

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What's happened is tragically simple: they've been fed the lies of consensus history. Now, this year, because the First Lady is Black and there stands a very good chance the 2016 president's first name will be Hillary, what were formally niceties while screwing women over have simply bubbled back to the surface, but, they were there all along. The roots are all over, but the South is by far the leader in hate of all types, and has a history of rape without consequence that every young woman should be taught ... but, you see, that would mean breaking the consensus we have with the Confederate Traitors and their credulous Pentacostal long-time, and even longer suffering, foot soldiers. It is highly instructive the way these brainwashed women will stand up for men who would, if they had married differently, be happy to not just pay them less, but rape them and leave them to die with a coathanger in a back alley, or, force them to carry a child of a hater, a la Strom Thurmond, who is, in many respects, their belated Poster Boy.

Good news is Y'ALL is 52% and can win any election you want, assuming they let you vote ...

A Post Well Done Here
"the many things we should be angry about. Take that pay gap, for example"

Yes, by all means get angry about this:

No law yet has closed the gender wage gap — not the 1963 Equal Pay for Equal Work Act, not Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, not the 1978 Pregnancy Discrimination Act, not the 1991 amendments to Title VII, not affirmative action (which has benefited mostly white women, the group most vocal about the wage gap -, not diversity, not the countless state and local laws and regulations, not the horde of overseers at the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, and not the Ledbetter Fair Pay Act.... Nor will a "paycheck fairness" law work.

That's because pay-equity advocates continue to overlook the effects of female AND male behavior:

Despite the 40-year-old demand for women's equal pay, millions of wives still choose to have no pay at all. In fact, according to Dr. Scott Haltzman, author of "The Secrets of Happily Married Women," stay-at-home wives, including the childless who represent an estimated 10 percent, constitute a growing niche. "In the past few years,” he says in a CNN report at, “many women who are well educated and trained for career tracks have decided instead to stay at home.” (“Census Bureau data show that 5.6 million mothers stayed home with their children in 2005, about 1.2 million more than did so a decade earlier....” at If indeed more women are staying at home, perhaps it's because feminists and the media have told women for years that female workers are paid less than men in the same jobs — so why bother working if they're going to be penalized and humiliated for being a woman. Yet, if "greedy, profit-obsessed" employers could get away with paying women less than men for the same work, they would not hire a man – ever.)

As full-time mothers or homemakers, stay-at-home wives earn zero. How can they afford to do this while in many cases living in luxury? Because they're supported by their husband, an “employer” who pays them to stay at home.

Feminists, government, and the media ignore what this obviously implies: If millions of wives are able to accept no wages and live as well as their husbands, millions of other wives are able to:

-accept low wages
-refuse overtime and promotions
-choose jobs based on interest first, pay second — men tend to do the opposite
-work part-time instead of full-time (“According to a 2009 UK study for the Centre for Policy Studies, only 12 percent of the 4,690 women surveyed wanted to work full time”: See also an Australian report at
-take more unpaid days off
-avoid uncomfortable wage-bargaining (


Women are able to make these choices because they are supported — or anticipate being supported — by a husband who must earn more than if he'd chosen never to marry. (Still, even many men who shun marriage, unlike their female counterparts, feel their self worth is tied to their net worth.) This is how MEN help create the wage gap. If the roles were reversed so that men raised the children and women raised the income, men would average lower pay than women.

Afterword: The power in money is not in earning it (there is only responsibility, sweat, and stress in earning money). The power in money is in SPENDING it. And, Warren Farrell says in The Myth of Male Power at, "Women control consumer spending by a wide margin in virtually every consumer category." (Women's control over spending, adds Farrell, gives women control over TV programs.) "A recent research study revealed that the average woman spends eight years of her life shopping [spending] -- over 300 shopping trips per year. Men, only a fraction of that." -

See "Will the Ledbetter Fair Pay Act Help Women?" at

By the way, the next Equal Occupational Fatality Day is in 2020. Year 2020 is how far into the future women must work to experience the same number of work-related deaths that men experienced in 2009 alone.
if any woman thinks equality is won its because she doesn't hear the conversations in bars, on fishing boats, golf courses, construction sites and anywhere men feel free to say what they really think-and this is not a mere Liberal Conservative thing-try playing vintage Howard stern back to his daughter
One big disconnect is that girls are sold a load of academic baloney.

Girls are better suited to the traditional school environment and their typical assumption is that to achieve success all they have to do is get a degree.

When that doesn't work, they go for more schooling.

When that doesn't work they assume that men are the blame.

The hard fact here is that the classroom has little to do with the real world- Edison didn't invent the light bulb by first taking a class in inventing.

In fact, many of the male success stories involve dropping out of school.

The next problem is technical -- as in technology technical. Today, in spite of the "Service Economy" hype, technical knowledge and skill is more valuable than ever.

Yet very few girls pursue Engineering or Technology. The few that do, do very well. Even in science, few women include a technical foundation that could provide that extra Oomf needed to get to the top.

Even in fields like medicine, women MD's tend to go into more people oriented careers like pediatrics. Very few become surgeons. (Note: the best surgeons are those that have an Engineering undergraduate degree. )

It's not that women can't get as high up as men -- they're just climbing a shorter tree.
Freedom is a constant struggle. Vigilance is the price of liberty. The feminist movement has made significant gains, but they are battles won in a war against women that is still raging. The attack on reproductive justice is just the latest pushback from the misogynist crowd. Pushback? More of a direct assault. I don't normally use military metaphors, but in this case they seem appropriate.

I'm confident that younger women and their male allies will continue to step up and join the fight for equality. They have so much defend and so much more to win.

Good opinion piece. You raise some interesting and valid points. For anyone who hasn't read "Backlash" by Susan Faludi, I HIGHLY recommend the book. Although women have made many advances since the 1950's, the backlash continues. Today, conservative politicians have aligned themselves with the religious right. Women are publicly accused of being prostitutes for using birth control or advocating for women's health issues. Some states seek to ban abortion and even ban or restrict certain forms of contraception.

Regarding the wage disparities, I'm a Certified Compensation Professional with more than 15 years experience. I believe the main reason for the wage/salary disparity is that women have a tendency to accept whatever starting pay they are offered, whereas men have a greater tendency to negotiate starting pay. Although I can't post a link here, feel free to search for my Wordpress blog TheHRmoneyLady. I've written an article on Getting Paid What You Are Worth that may be instructive. Alternatively, please send me a PM and I will PM you the link to the article.
I think the problem with feminism as it was originally formulated and still often is today is that it is only concerned with the rights of women in the workplace, rather than the interests of women who wish primarily to have and care for a family.

It's a no-brainer that males and females receive equal opportunity and pay, but the neglect of women who want a more traditional arrangement has led to the cultural wars you see manifesting today, which is why a lot of women are unsure of what to do next.

What mostly happened in my generation was that families where the men made enough money the women stayed home, and in those where the males didn't went out and worked. That was the reality. If I'm not mistaken, the most widely read post last year or the year before on the internet was by Mormon women who described their day and duties as wives and mothers--so I'm not making up this interest on the part of women.

Now, women are being pitted against women as part of a broader ideological struggle wherein true social equality is not addressed. To neglect this aspect is to only tell part of the story.

I think we now know, after watching the Republican primary and with the backsledding in the hinterlands what political option there is in the coming election for the future of additional policies and laws regarding the rights of women.
It seems to me that there is more "problem" with the workplace than with women in it. When jobs typically devour a person's time to the point that all else suffers, all else suffers. Corporate America needs to wake up and see that it is this demanded human sacrifice that is turning coworkers on each other and contributing to the degeneration of family as well as declines in mental and physical health. We have to stop pointing fingers at each other in the name of "competition" long enough to hold the right corporate structures responsible. Only then will we be able to see where inequality and marginalization deserves attention without others being made to feel slighted or being slighted in this weird game of collateral compensatory damage.
More men are realizing what a nasty piece of work marriage is for them and are opting out of it. This frees more women to take the dangerous, high paying jobs men traditionally took. More female sewage treatment engineers, construction workers, garbagemen, etc.

This will also help with equality in terms of workplace fatalities and severe injuries, a field currently dominated by men.

Hopefully more women will take on front line infantry positions, as well, as veteran deaths and injuries are currently also a male-dominated field.

Enjoy the equality!