By Karla Rodriguez
Christy Martinez-Garcia knows what it is like to be working hard and hoping for a raise.
Now the owner of Latino Lubbock Magazine, she recalls experiencing gender inequality years ago as an employee of the City of Lubbock.
“For the work that I was doing, I was very underpaid,” Martinez-Garcia said. “I was performing in all of the projects that we were doing.”
Being the lowest paid employee in the office, Martinez-Garcia decided to ask for a raise so she could pay for her daughter’s childcare.
Her boss said no.
A friend of hers, who was leaving the city of Lubbock and had told her of a higher-paying job in another department, was shocked to hear her boss’s interpretation of events.
“Not even five minutes after she left, my boss told her that I’d probably take that job that she was doing because I was money-hungry,” Martinez-Garcia said. “That was very disgusting and disappointing because he had also applied for a job that he wanted for more money.”
Martinez-Garcia’s experience is hardly unusual. According to a U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics report, women in the 45-to-54 age category earned only 75 percent of the wages of comparable men in 2012.
The pay gap is, however, smaller for younger people. Among 25- to 34-year-olds, women earned 90 percent of what men earned in 2012.
Minerva Sanchez, a senior nutrition major at Tech who works for Martinez-Garcia, said she believes the reason gender pay gap still exists today is because people cannot accept women as belonging on the same level as men in the workplace.
“Things are changing, it’s something that you cannot stop,” Sanchez said. “I mean, if you ask me if I think men in some way fear women, then yes, I do, because we can do more. We can multitask more things.”
Sanchez said she enjoys working for Martinez-Garcia because of the equality she shows her employees and for never discriminating against anyone, no matter who they are or where they come from.
“She has taught me so many things that I didn’t know I was capable of doing,” Sanchez said. “She is really fair and has worked her butt off to be where she is and continues to work her butt off to stay where she is. It’s admirable because as a woman and having your own company, it’s amazing and proves that women are capable of doing big things and being the leader of a business.”
Martinez-Garcia said a mix of men and women work for her. She does not use gender as a factor in hiring employees or determining their salaries.
“I seem to have more men doing deliveries because, you know, they like to be on their own, but I have women, too,” Martinez-Garcia said. “Minnie [Sanchez] is an example of doing deliveries. It’s about who’s got the time and is serious, responsible and committed. I don’t focus on gender. It’s just focus on tenacity, commitment and dedication.”
Kassandra Salazar, a senior psychology major, said men are still perceived to be easier to talk to for business purposes.
“Some people believe that a woman is less approachable and demanding or is really bossy if she gives orders,” Salazar said. “However, nobody would look at a man that way in that situation. People would just think that he’s a really good boss.”
Salazar said she is looking forward to the day when people are rewarded only on the basis of their work performance.
“It shouldn’t be about what other stuff you have going on in your life,” Salazar said. “It should just be about how well you do at your job. It shouldn’t be about men getting praised more for this or women for that. It should be simply about business.”