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Avoiding the pink ghetto at work


I love Penelope Trunk, a blogger known as the Brazen Careerist. She provokes me. A few days ago, she made me think differently about what I do for a living. She made me ask myself: Would a man want to do it?

Penelope has noticed that it is women who write about work life balance, life at work and workplace issues. And that’s not good because where there are women there are lower salaries.

Penelope believes pay inequity is not because men get paid more for the same work. It’s that women choose to do different work -- we gravitate toward the pink ghetto. She writes on her BNET blog: "I interviewed Al Lee, the quantitative analysis genius who combs through salaries at PayScale, and among the fascinating things he told me was that women and men get paid similar amounts for similar work but that women pick lower-paying fields, and lower paying paths. Al says that the best thing women can do to increase their earning power is “to choose fields dominated by men right out of college.”

Just last week I had a conversation with a communications officer at UCF's graduate school of video gaming. He mentioned his grads are in demand, snapped up right away by companies offering big bucks. Sure enough, few women are going into the field.

A few weeks ago, Parade Magazine came out with its annual What People Earn edition. I noticed the high paying jobs, those that made in excess of $150,000 where held by men: a Fedex Pilot, an entertainment producer, a real estate agent to the stars.

Do we need to do a better job of steering young females into different professions?

I'm not a believer if forcing a young woman into a profession she has no interest, just for the pay. But college grad who is looking to earn a top salary or woman who wants to switch careers or departments within her company really needs to look where the men are clustered.

Now, let's look at the female dominated fields. Teaching has been disasterous. Teacher pay and benefits have been under attack for the last few years. It might be a great profession for working mothers but it's horrible for supporting a family. I think that might be where the problem lies, we're choosing balance over earning potential.

What do you think about the pink ghetto at work? Are women's choices -- the careers, departments, mentors and even the businesses we open  -- affecting our earning potential?