Do Women Work Harder Than Men To Prove Themselves At Work

6:11 AM

Do women work harder than men to prove themselves and to 
fight gender salary discrimination? Yes, women are still 
fighting the good fight every damn day.

do women work harder than men

Fighting The Good Fight

It's 2015 and I do believe our grandmothers would be wondering how we can possibly still be having the same, tired conversations—do women need to work hard to prove themselves at work? Yes, every single day, yes. On VProud there's an amazing video and conversation about the concept of women feeling like they need to prove their competency at work. Writer and plumbing industry leader Kerstin Auer takes one for the team here and reflects on her own experience having to do this while working and leading in a male-dominated field. We found Kerstin's transparency and straight-to-the-point direct writing to be spot on and contagious. Take a look at Kerstin's story, we're betting you'll find bits and pieces of your own work experiences reflected in it. It's so important to keep the dialogue open and the fight going, just like our grandmothers did, in the hopes that our daughters won't have to.

—The VProud Team

do women need to work hard

The Reality Of Being Judged 

By Gender Rather Than Ability

By Kerstin Auer for VProud

Having to prove my worth at work in a male-dominated industry? Story of my life. And while I’ve always liked a good challenge, it also provided motivation to get to a point where I don’t have to compete against men anymore. That, however, seems to be impossible, especially for women like me, who know that some industries may be male-dominated, but insist that the person best suited for the job should fulfill it, no matter what gender. It’s a delicate balance between being ambitious enough to keep pushing, and frustrated enough to call it quits.

I grew up thinking I could be anything I wanted to be, and when I decided to work in the plumbing/heating and building industry, I had no reason to believe otherwise. I took on leadership of a plumbing company with 35 employees, my job being work prep, quotes, schedules, etc. Basically the whole process from going to a customer’s home to look at the job, to getting the job, to ordering the materials, preparing them for the plumbers, and making sure the job is done right and the customer is happy.

Sounds pretty straight forward, right? I thought so, but it didn’t take long until the comments started rolling in: “You’re from the plumbing company? When is “the guy” coming to look at the job?” “Can I talk to a guy about this?” “What do you know about plumbing?” “A woman on a construction site? What is this world coming to?” And sadly, it wasn’t just male customers saying this. Female and male co-workers, female and male customers—they were on the same page. Hearing this gender-based criticism from another woman really stings. Apparently, a woman working in a male-dominated industry, is either butch or a bitch.

Of course being judged by our gender and not our abilities has always been a reality. Ignoring it wasn’t getting me anywhere, so I decided to complete a plumbing apprenticeship in order to gain more credibility. It’s always great to learn new things, but to be perfectly clear: being a journeywoman plumber did nothing for my abilities to run that company. You don’t have to be a plumber to run a plumbing company. That’s what you hire plumbers for. You don’t have to know how to drive a semi-truck to run a freight company. That’s what you hire truck drivers for. You don’t have to know how to build a house to run a construction company. That’s what you hire carpenters for.
While being a certified plumber did nothing for my ability to lead the company, it did cause a shift in the way my plumbers and a lot of my customers looked at me. The questions whether I brought along “the guy” to look at the job stopped, and construction-site meetings seemed to go smoother.

As the company grew, I hired “a guy” to help me out in the office, and take on some of my workload. He was not a plumber - and didn’t need to be for the job I hired him—and his ability to get the job done was never questioned.
No, it’s not fair, but it’s a reality I’ve encountered again and again over the years and it’s more than frustrating, it’s infuriating. To be clear: I don’t think that women should get jobs in a male-dominated industry just to prove a point - I think that every job, in every industry should be open to the best candidate, regardless of gender. The only thing anyone should have to prove is their ability to get the job done.

About the author: Kerstin Auer is a writer, a coach, and a reformed grudge holder. She's been working as a freelancer for the past two years, and is getting ready to launch a series of self-coaching workbooks, called *tools for better.* You can find her at, or on her favourite social media platform Instagram. Join Kerstin's honest conversations on VProud.

Join This Honest Conversation

gender salary discrimination
Girls rule and boys drool: Have you had to work harder to prove your competency at work? (feat. Rep. Rosa L. DeLauro)

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