CMF Profiles

The meaning behind you owe me 21 cents

On CMF Magazine’s March Madness cover  Sandra Perron proudly wears a t-shirt she was gifted. We asked her to explain the meaning behind “you owe me 21 cents.”  

The t-shirt was given to me by my niece Courtney, a brilliant young businesswoman working at the corporate offices of TJX in Toronto.

It is meant to provoke constructive and innovative discussion about the disparity between men’s and women’s wages. The United Nations estimates that it will take 170 years to eradicate the disparity in pay and employment opportunities for men and women  When I wore the t-shirt a few times around military personnel, many assumed that the slogan “you owe me 21 cents” was applicable only to civilian organizations and corporations. A recurring comment was that “there is no wage gap in the military…equal rank, equal pay, regardless of gender, right?”

Not so.

There are many examples that can challenge that assumption. For example, when we consider that over 90% of deployed troops are men, it ensues that in most cases, it is women are often the ones taking up the slack to tend to their families, their homes, or loved ones needing special care.  While they endeavour to do this, they are perhaps losing out on their own deployment opportunities, career advancing courses, or operational experiences.  This often hurts their careers.

Women also disproportionately bear the brunt of taking care of elder relatives.  This ultimately contributes to the sacrifices they must make at work to fit in doctor appointments, administrative and medical needs, special care, etc.  This pulls them away from devoting some of their energy and time towards their career.

The wage gap is not always as obvious and direct as we think.  So we need to continue having discussions about this issue and together find innovative solutions to share the workload and the responsibilities so that we can all enjoy an equal chance to thrive in the workplace.

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Mishall Rehman

Originally from Atlanta, GA, Mishall is a freelance journalist pursuing her passion for writing in her new homeland Canada. She currently lives in Trenton, ON with her husband.

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Canadian Military Family Magazine