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Half the Sky


Welcome to Equal Pay Day.

Although we at the EDM Blog attempt to avoid political perspectives and present solely an objective position, sometimes something a politician says really strikes a chord with respect to our effectiveness as public servants. While I was grading papers earlier today, I had the TV on in the background, and one of the candidates for president shared this story--which I will paraphrase like this:

A 40 - 45 year-old single mother had worked at a business for several years. Her son came of working age, and she introduced him to the business as an applicant. He was hired and began working. When his first pay came in, he and his mother sat together, excitedly anticipating seeing his first check. Yet the opposite happened--both of them were crestfallen when his first paycheck indicated that as a 17-year-old male with zero experience, he earned a dollar more per hour than his experienced mother with extensive experience.

There is no available explanation for this other than gender discrimination. Pure and simple, no questions asked, no excuses tolerated.

The connection to emergency and disaster management is a simple logic step away. Ask yourself these questions:

  • When you hire someone, which is more important: experience or gender?
  • When you look out across your workforce, are there clear disparities between what you pay various workers? Are those disparities based on experience and effectiveness, or something else? Is that something else justifiable?
  • And the hard question: To what extent would you be damaging your ability to protect and serve the public if your hiring, pay, promotion, etc., was based on issues other than competence?

As a civilization, we are in crisis. Our political systems, both national and international, are on the verge of collapse; climate change denial is threatening the future of our species; non-renewable resource depletion (such as that of fossil water) is threatening the survival of entire nations; and yet, we STILL thwart the efforts of the best and brightest among us from having a voice and working together on our behalf to save our future.

Helpful message of the day: Not all of the best and brightest among us are male. So let's solve this worldwide perception that half of our species has little to offer. Let's fix all of the customs and laws and attitudes that prevent segments of our species from participating in the analysis and decision processes that will help us survive. At this particularly critical juncture in the history of humankind, we really can't afford to do anything else.

Here's a global perspective:

Half the Sky by Nicholas Kristof & Sheryl WuDunn.

It's worth the read.

Randall Cuthbert Dr. Randall Cuthbert is a retired APUS Professor of Emergency & Disaster Management. He has also worked as a Red Cross Shelter Supervisor, and spent a 20-year career as a US Air Force Civil Engineer Officer. His blogging interests include: protecting & enhancing the EDM profession in the areas of integrity, honorable public service, and social justice; education regarding the 'big picture' role of EDM in our society; educating our professionals and neighbors with regard to the greatest threat to our civilization--climate change; and in general terms, creating a better world for our children and grandchildren.