It’s been a solid month since I began working for the U.S. Department of Labor, Women’s Bureau, and I love it. I enjoy being able to reach out to different constituent groups and service organizations that help the community. I like representing the federal government wherever I go, even if it is just as an intern. And, working adjacent to so many other federal agencies at the JFK Federal Building makes the experience even more exciting. I have learned many things about the regional and national chains of command within the government, and each day, it’s as if the material I’ve learned in school about government comes to life.
But, there is a catch. Simply stated, I’m a guy. I can’t tell you how many curious expressions I have received after introducing myself as an intern at the Women’s Bureau. I must say that in my line of work, on issues of gender equality, equal pay, and workplace flexibility, I am incredibly outnumbered (gender-wise); however, I firmly believe that this should not be the case. These are all issues that direct the work of the Women’s Bureau, but at the same time are critical concerns that largely affect the whole economy.
I have firmly come to believe that topics such as equal pay and gender equality in the workforce should not be considered a “women’s issue”, just as the historical battle for racial equality between blacks and whites should not be considered a “black issue”. Instead, these are issues of discrimination that must be acknowledged and considered by all parties, not just by a single gender or racial group. My fear is that the movement for gender equality in the workplace has become seen as a compartmentalized women’s movement, instead of one based on the principle of human equality.