Ask Jack: Equal Pay for Women, Software Lies, Job of the Week

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AOL Jobs reader Shannon asks:

On the Academy Awards, Patricia Arquette spoke about equal pay for women. It is about time, and I'm so glad the issue is getting some serious attention! But how can we actually make it happen?

Shannon, thank you for this question, and Women's History Month seems like an excellent opportunity to address it. The gender gap in earnings has been studied by economists since at least the 1890s. Factors such as education levels, experience, and working hours can only explain the difference in pay to a certain degree. So we have to point the finger at discrimination as another culprit.

What can be done? To me, a combination of increased awareness and legislation seems key. In September, the Paycheck Fairness Act was again rejected by the U.S. Senate. The bill, strengthening the Equal Pay Act of 1963, would provide protections for women who complain about gender pay inequality at their workplaces. Critics say there are already enough pay-inequity laws on the books, such as the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2009. The debate will clearly continue, and is likely to heat up even further if there is a Hillary Clinton presidential campaign. (And in a recent Gchat with me, Hillz247 said she still hadn't made up her mind.)

In the meantime, if the issue matters to you, make your voice heard. Write to your Representative and Senators. Tweet to them -- force them explain themselves in a public setting. And if you think you're being discriminated against because of your gender, speak up! Tell your union rep. Call a local reporter. Write to an AOL Jobs advice column. (Check.)

Anthony has a question too!

I am applying for a job and I have 9 out of the 10 job requirements. Should I apply anyway, even though they say it is necessary to know a particular computer program and I don't know it?

Congratulations, Anthony, you had 9 of the 10 requirements to get your question in the Ask Jack column, but I let you through anyway! (Requirement #10: Send me chocolate.) You should absolutely apply. I don't suggest lying, but maybe be a little vague in your cover letter: "I am well-versed in several of the common computer programs used in this field." Most applicants won't have every desired quality, and hiring managers know that. But don't take yourself out of the running; let them make the decision.

It's a little like online dating: You see that one "deal breaker" (cats, smoking, Dave Matthews fan, etc.) and say "this person is definitely not for me." But if you met face-to-face, you might really hit it off and then learn to live with that incredibly annoying characteristic. In your case, you could probably learn the software on the job. Or better yet, start learning now, if it's indeed popular in your profession. Good luck; now if you'll excuse me, I have to feed Mr. Whiskers, have a quick smoke, and crank some DMB.

Last week's Ask Jack questions

Do you have a work-related question for Jack? Write it in the comments below (better answers to this week's questions are also welcome!) or tweet it @AOLJobs with the hashtag #AskJack.

Jack's Job of the Week

Experience the exquisite irony of being a Pay Variance Team Member while earning $14 to $16 an hour! Or do your own search on AOL Jobs for positions all across the country where you can earn fair pay for your skills. (And you won't even have to lie about your computer know-how.)

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