Learning about sexism in the workplace - Alberta style

I recently turned down a job for personal reasons. The job was amazing, but the mounting stress of the pandemic, family life balance just made it the wrong time for such a change. A good friend of mine ended up being the successful candidate. As I congratulated him he let it slip what pay grade they offered him. Level 2. LEVEL 2?!?! I was shocked. See I was offered Level 1. How was this possible? I have 10 more years experience than he has. I'm not disparaging him in any way. He is great at his job, but why had I been offered less despite having more experience?

The position asked for 4 years of progressively more responsibilities within a certain department. I had that exactly, in addition to leading a project directly related to the role and 10 other years within the field, but they weren't counting those previous ten years within my offer because it wasn't in that specific department. My friend however, has 3 years in the specific department, and 2 years mirroring my 10. They counted ALL of that experience and therefore offered him a higher starting pay. I also have higher academic credentials than he has. 

This is the second time I've had my experience discounted leading to a lower salary than I was expecting based on my experience. I assumed this was standard practice. Perhaps only standard practice for women or people not knowing they need to advocate for themselves here. These organizations are unionized or act like they are. They tell you in the hiring process that the salary is non-negotiable. I still asked for higher, but was told no that was the offer based on my (now lowered) experience and they couldn't budge. 

Is there a specific policy out there planning to lower women's wages? Unlikely in this day and age. But with anything in the job world it is often harder for women to speak up. I now realize this and I will not let a future employer lower my experience level saying it's not directly related to the job. I fell into the trap of agreeing. I could see their point that it was similar, but not EXACT and accepted it. Bullshit! I have earned many skills that are directly related to the position I'm in, and this other job I turned down that have increased my ability to do the job well. That is not to be discredited anymore. 

My male friend who has accepted the position had all of his experience credited. They didn't try to diminish it. Perhaps he related it better to the questions they asked in the interview than I did. I had coached him to make sure he tied his experience back to the position. I assumed I had when I interviewed, but his experience was more of a stretch than mine so I quizzed him on a few skills and if he had them in previous jobs and told him to make sure he talked about that. 

Hopefully this will be a lesson for other women out there, if the organization says no negotiations, be ready to fight for your experience level. DO NOT let them take away the years you've had in the work force! Figure out how to advocate better for yourself than I did. I will pay for this (literally) for years to come. Make sure you can tie back your experience to the job skills required in the posting. Make sure you are ready with arguments if they try to discount any years of experience. This is how they will calculate your wage off the salary grid. 

The sexism here may not be as blatant as it was 20 years ago, but it still exists. We still have to fight and be more qualified than our male counterparts and still risk being paid less.


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