For Janice Giannini of Newark, the desire to buck the lopsided earnings trend came from a fiery sense of independence early in life, which eventually led her to becoming a successful executive coach with several large companies, including Lockheed Martin and General Electric. By the time she was in the eighth grade, Giannini started observing distant female family members staying in unhappy marriages simply because it was a financial necessity. She realized then that she didn’t ever want to be financially dependent on another person.
Despite her tenacity, Giannini admits that she too had to play a rather odd game of ascension—zigging and zagging up the mountain, if you will.
“For instance, I never wore my wedding ring to work,” says Giannini. “If a man was married, he was viewed as stable and dependable. If a woman was married she was viewed as a risk. After enough comments from men to that effect, I thought, ‘Ya know what? I’m just not going to wear my wedding ring.’ So I removed the daily evidence. Because I had to. That way people didn’t think about it as much.”
What still upsets her isn’t so much the facts and figures of pay disparity, but rather the makeup of executive ranks and boardrooms she’s been a part of throughout her career.
“Until we address the executive ranks and the boardrooms, we will not have equality between males and females in the workplace,” she says. “Equal opportunity is a function of who is running the organization, and there’s ample research that indicates having more female executives and board members increases financial performance of a company. If they could all make more money by getting out of their comfort zone, what does it take to blast them to the present and future?”