I talked to Natalie Mehringer, a student at Houston Baptist University, about her thoughts on current happenings in America. I wanted to hear another college-aged woman’s opinion on things that may directly affect her as a young woman in America.
Is the gender pay gap a concern for you, considering that you will be entering the work force when you graduate from college? According to the Pew Research Center, men of all ethnicities (Asian, white, black, Hispanic) still made more than women in 2015.
Yes, the gender pay gap is a very sincere issue that concerns me. As an Educator in the American education system I will be entering an already wavering job market. It is difficult to find well-paying teaching jobs as it is with a large percentage of teachers being laid off from public education programs due to issues with academic tenure, retirement, and government funding. According to the National Center for Education Statistics male teachers, specifically white and Hispanic male teachers, can be paid up to 13% more/higher than their female counterparts. It also mentions that married females receive lower salaries than non-married females, while the males don’t see any difference in pay due to marital status. This is very concerning for me as a female who deeply aspires to be married someday. I would like to think this pay gap, based on only sexist ideals as far as I can tell, would be eradicated by 2018 when I will most likely graduate and enter the job market.
Has there ever been a time where you have faced sexism in the workplace? If yes, can you describe one event?
I work on Houston Baptist University’s campus as a visual/audio technician in the Morris Cultural Arts Center. I have worked there since my first semester of my freshman year and have grown very close with the staff and management. I am very experienced in my department and have worked with complicated equipment for nearly four years. However, I have on occasion experienced someone making assumptions, remarks, or blatantly rude comments about me or my job in the department. Aside from the generic assumption that as a girl I can’t carry heavy objects or climb ladders, I’ve experienced more direct sexism as well. At one particular event where I was the head light engineer for a Q&A with a professor. The professor’s manager whom I was working with referred to me as “too pretty to work with technology” and asked if I had a “thing for nerds” because why else would I be interested in working with audio/light boards. The worst experience I have ever had, however, was when I worked with a local high school who was performing their musical in our theater. I was head stage manager on staff, simply meaning I was available at all times back stage during rehearsals and shows so if something happened or if they had questions they could have someone familiar with the stage and theater help them. Their assistant director was not a fan of me. He actively petitioned for me to be removed because he didn’t see a 21-year-old woman to be a qualified informant for his stage production. He referred to me commonly as a “little girl” and would tell his students to bypass me and contact my boss instead. Thankfully my boss was absolutely appalled and defended me at every turn. He explained that I had extensive background in lighting and audio, stage production, set design, and acting and that I was a top employee of the theater. Needless to say the man backed off but it didn’t sting any less
Is there something in particular that you would like the next president to do to close the wage gap and potentially lower the levels of sexism in the workplace?
As much as I would love to imagine a world where the incoming president or any president could make a difference in this way, I do not honestly believe they can. While I do believe that closing the wage gap would be a very long overdue step in the right direction I do not see it really affecting the sexism in American society. I believe sexism in the workplace comes less from pay gaps and more from outdated policies and traditional thinking. For example, most woman receive paid maternity leave before or after child birth usually around 12 weeks. However, men very rarely ever get paternity leave and if they do it’s hardly ever paid. This is absurd considering a man is just as responsible for the care of their child as the mother, is he not? This issue enforces the gender roles and other outdated ideas that a woman is solely responsible for being a mother and taking care of their children despite their career or even in place of a career.
According to several sources, Donald Trump interrupted Hillary Clinton 51 times during the first presidential debate. Do you believe this was because he is sexist or do you think that it is just Donald Trump’s nature to interrupt?
I absolutely believe that Donald Trump is an entitled, ignorant, and immature man. I believe he continuously acts like an ass in the presence of the media and is very rarely reprimanded for his behavior. I do personally believe it stems for a very high sense of unearned self-worth and a very low opinion of other people, specifically women. I do think he is a sexist and a misogynist. I also believe he is a racist. I find his utter lack of tact and human decency despicable considering he is running for the presidency. The way he treats Hillary in the media and specifically during the debate shows that he doesn’t understand how to be diplomatic in the slightest. I personally believe he would treat Hillary more fairly if she were a man, however I admit Trump has actively bullied Cruz and Bush equally as much.
Do you think it is okay for the federal government to be involved in regulating paid maternity and paternity leave?
It’s comical that I have already mentioned maternity and paternity leave in a previous answer. However, despite my belief that employers should provide leave for both a man and woman I am not sure I believe that the government should supply funds. I think it should be the state and the employer’s decision to fund this and I do think it should be equal for mothers and fathers.
What are your thoughts on President Obama protecting Planned Parenthood permanently?
I am not well informed on this topic. Although I think that Planned Parenthood has a bad connotation with their name thank to their services and connections to abortion. Planned Parenthood is a multifaceted service business that does a lot of good in a lot of ways aside from their negative reputations. I think a major cause of teen pregnancy and direct attributer to abortion rates is lack of sexual education. Planned Parenthood is making radical moves to help young people get information and protection and reduce the ignorance surrounding sex and sexual education. I think Obama was doing his best to make a well informed and tough decision to better America and protect a business that is trying to do good in their own way. Everyone is entitled to their own opinion and he was elected to do what he thought was right, just like every president (Republican or Democratic) before him.
Natalie Mehringer is a senior at Houston Baptist University and is majoring in Elementary Education with ESL and a special needs certification. She is also minoring in Psychology and is an active member in HBU’s chapter of Alpha Chi Omega.