Cari Rohrmayer loves her career, but working in a male-dominated field hasn’t always been easy for her.
“I have faced a handful of people who would discriminate against me not just for being a woman but for being a young woman in the construction field,” said Rohrmayer.
And Rohrmayer isn’t alone. Recent data from the Indiana Institute for Working Families shows that Indiana has the third highest gender wage gap in the country. Women reportedly make 73 cents for every dollar men make.
“It really needs to be fixed because it’s not the 1950s anymore, and everyone is supporting something or their family, and I’d really like to see this change,” said Claudine Hann, co-owner of Fifi’s Lunchbox.
Hann and Fifi’s other co-owner Jacqueline Ruff say confidence goes a long way for women in any workforce.
“You really have to prove yourself as a female before anyone will totally take you serious, and that’s one thing we come right off the bat as confident, and in your face kinda thing, and know our direction that we’re gonna go,” said Hann.
Rohrmayer says creating a mutually beneficial relationship with her male counterparts, based on differing talents, has helped her.
“I ask for their respect in my aesthetics and I look to them for how to construct things,” said Rohrmayer.
Bernice Helman says women should welcome any opportunity to take a seat at the table to show their dedication to equality.
“As women we need to know what our value is, I think we need to be able to articulate that value, and just make sure that you are the piece of the equation that is irreplaceable,” said Helman.
Hann and Ruff make sure to lead by example in their workplace.
“We hire people that are qualified, whether they’re male or female and we absolutely love the female leadership that we have here,” Ruff said.
Above all, these women all stress the importance of never giving up and following your passions.
“It won’t always be easy but it will be worth it if you’re doing what you love to do,” said Rohrmayer.
And while the statistics may not look encouraging, Helman says the horizon looks brighter because of awareness and activism.
“We have to not let it be acceptable, and hold employers accountable, but we have made great progress, and I think it’s important that we don’t lose sight of that.” said Helman.
Rohrmayer says just seeing reports with this kind of data being published and circulated within communities makes her hopeful, as having conversations about issues like equal pay is what will help to reach a solution.