So I was reading James Morrow’s The Wine of Violence and when I got to “Will the Journal of Evolution publish it? Publish, it, hell, they’ll make me an editor” (p25), I stopped, puzzled for a moment. Then it hit me. To Francis, the character whose thoughts those are, becoming an editor means status and income. To me, it has just meant more work. That’s how it is for women.
Case in point: for five years I served on the Ethics Committee of our local hospital. That meant I attended monthly meetings; I also offered to be on the Education sub-committee, which meant I prepared and delivered a special topics seminar each month, the Consultation sub-committee, which meant I’d meet with physicians who wanted assistance making decisions, and for which I researched and prepared an ethical-decision-making ‘tree’ (for which one of the physicians thanked me profusely, saying it has made such a difference, he was henceforth able to find a way through all the complexities and competing claims…), and the Research sub-committee, which meant I’d meet as needed to discuss research proposals put to the hospital, and for which I researched and prepared, again, a tool for decision-making (which has since been circulated among other hospitals who now use it).
The nurses, doctors, and hospital administrators on the committee were paid because their participation was on ‘hospital time’; the minister and lawyer on the committee were also paid for their participation by their parish and law company. As a sessional at the local university, I was paid per course; any community service I decided to take on was ‘on my own dime’—that is, on a purely volunteer, unpaid, basis.
At one point, the committee arranged for the ethics officer of another hospital to come give a talk. He was paid to do so. He didn’t say anything I couldn’t say (and indeed hadn’t already said in one form or another).
After five years, a new hospital was built with lots of bells and whistles; I thought it a good time to propose that I be hired as an on-site part-time ethics officer. No. Just—no.
Women are expected to help, to assist; what they do is done as a favour. No one expects to pay them; it’s why we ourselves don’t expect to be paid.
Men, on the other hand, expect to be paid. And they are. They are the ones we help; they are the ones we assist. They do. We just help.
But take away any man’s help, any man’s assistants, and let’s see how much he achieves, how many programs he develops, implements; how many books he writes; how many companies he creates and runs.