A few weeks ago, my husband went with some of the young men in our ward to visit a local company for a career night. As the owner talked to the boys about the different salaries the boys could make, he told them, "This is job X, it pays around $X, that is not a family wage." He went through a few positions like that until he started getting to the higher paying, family-supporting wage jobs. I thought how true that is! You really do need to be aware that doing piece-work assembly just won't support a family.
Today I got to know a friend better. I learned that her husband is a teacher, and I was impressed that he would choose the field; I'm all for men in teaching, and wish more would do it. Then she told us that he actually works FIVE jobs, or rather has five income-generating activities to make ends meet. Lest you think my friend's husband pulls in all the income so she can sit around watching soaps and eating bon-bons, she also works about 20 hours a week, late at night and is the mom of five. So between the two of them, they work six jobs.
At that, my blood began to boil. Just because my husband does make a "family wage" does that mean he works any harder than my friend's husband? No! What makes some people so deserving of more income (and sometimes SO MUCH more income) than the other guy or gal who works just as hard, is just as dedicated, and has had just as much education, but is just in a different field???
Don't get me wrong. I'm fine with people having different salaries, but how I wish we would treat teachers, specifically, like trained professionals, which they usually are. If we did, we'd probably even get more men in the profession, which would be wonderful.
Another friend commented how her husband wanted to be a teacher, but he knew they couldn't make it on that salary, so went a different direction. I realized probably both my brothers would enjoy some form of teaching, yet also avoided the field because it does not provide a family wage. How many men out there would be in teaching if only they could support their families? Since when did teaching become work for pittance? When it was a man's profession, was the pay still terrible? Has teaching always been so undervalued?
Personally, I chose teaching because I believed it would provide me with the flexibility I'd need to be home with my kids if I needed to be working, even if the pay was lousy. I enjoy teaching, but I don't know if I'd enjoy being a teacher as you typically think of them---in a public school setting. However, now I also recognize the benefits of training in what is considered more men's fields/more "professional": medical, law, etc. It is neat that those professions can provide the opportunity to work less, say than a teacher, yet generate more income, and allow a person to be flexible with his/her schedule.
However, once again, I'm terribly annoyed that I might more likely choose one of those higher-paying career paths merely for the money. What if I really, really wanted to be a teacher, but decided to be a doctor just for the money? It's like we're giving up our personal integrity for money, and I think it's really sad, yet it also seems necessary when you're trying to support a family.