Tonight, my fiance (26m) and I (26f) were at dinner with his family. He has a younger brother (18m) and an older sister (29f) who I will refer to as my SIL just because it's simpler. I've been working as a product manager at a big tech company since I got out of college five years ago. My salary has steadily climbed in the last couple of years so now I'm making a very large amount.
However, I am a big proponent of salary transparency, especially as a woman in a male-dominated field. I've helped multiple people who were being underpaid negotiate higher salaries after sharing my salary history. I've also helped many younger college students who are looking to go into the industry by sharing my salary.
So this evening, we were discussing the tech industry and how it's become such a popular field to go into. Both me and my fiance work in tech so we were offering our input from our own roles. My fiance's little brother is planning on studying computer science in college so he asked me, rather abruptly, how much I make as a PM.
Since I believe in salary transparency, I went ahead and just said, 'Well, after I got promoted to being a senior product manager a few months ago, my current salary is about $300,000.' After I said that, my fiance's brother said 'HOLYY SHI!!IT' really loudly and then congratulated me and called me impressive.
I thanked him and told him that I'd be happy to help him when he starts looking for internships & jobs in college. However, then all of a sudden, my SIL starts sniffling and I look at her and she's wiping tears from her face. My future MIL starts to comfort her and is whispering something, and the whole table goes silent.
I immediately apologize and asked what was wrong and she just said 'it's just f**king hard seeing people make that much when I'm making $15/hour working my ass off 50 hours a week.' She also said after that 'some people really do get everything huh?' and then glared at me and kept crying. Then she excused herself to the bathroom and my MIL followed.
Here's my SIL's situation: she's currently a single mom and is pregnant with her second. She's working a minimum-wage job to support her kid. I'm very empathetic to her situation and my fiance and I have extended a helping hand multiple times (e.g., babysitting, buying her child toys/other gifts/necessities, sending money and supplies, etc.).
Since the incident, she hasn't spoken to me. She actually ended up just walking out from dinner with my future MIL and leaving the rest of us at the restaurant. My MIL did text and told me that I acted insensitively and should give SIL a sincere apology.
My fiance's on my side and believes his sister was the one who acted rudely. See I would apologize, but I think she owes me an apology too. AITA here?
Here's how people judged OP:
NAH except for MIL. You shared and - let's be honest - you make a ridiculous amount for 5y of work experience. But: you're right to support wage transparency, it was your choice to work in this field, and I'm sure you've earned the promotions, etc.
But it must be disheartening for her to know that she won't earn that, that there'll always be a difference between her and her siblings(' families) and that she won't be able to give her kids a lot, maybe not even the basics, with how it stands now.
Men don’t get it. We women often do not realize we are underpaid compared to our male counterparts who have the same experience, education, and employment history. Salary transparency is how we figure this shit out and put a stop to it. NTA
edenne12 OP responded:
Yes, I think it's so crucial to have that discourse as women (especially women in male-dominated fields). I remember when I was just starting out, I found out my male co-worker (same age & education, similar experience) was being offered $20,000 more than me. HR wrote it off as he had more experience, but then ended up agreeing to match my salary.
I didn't read it as bragging. As women, we tend to downplay or explain our stance beforehand, because we have to take extra steps to avoid being called some unflattering things.
There's been numerous studies where a man gets called 'take charge, no nonsense, and born leader,' for the same behavior a women will be called 'bitchy, overbearing, controlling, and over-compensating.' Trying to 'soften' our approach is mostly second nature at this point.
I saw what you wrote as an explanation for why you don't pause when asked. Some places really struggle with the idea that discussing wages should be encouraged, as it benefits the employees. Some people still think it's illegal though.
edenne12 OP responded:
Wow, that's exactly right. I've read those same studies, yet didn't make the connection with what I did in my post until you said it so eloquently. I was even feeling bad that I was coming across as insensitive with that paragraph after a few pointed it out as braggy.