Instead of a marriage proposal today, women should try asking for a pay rise

Todays the day when a woman traditionally has the chance to make a marriage proposal to a man. Pictu

Todays the day when a woman traditionally has the chance to make a marriage proposal to a man. Picture: Getty Images/iStockphoto - Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

Happy Leap Day! Traditionally, today's the day on which women can take the initiative and propose marriage to a man. If he turns her down he is obliged by custom to buy her a dress or some gloves.

Actually, it's hard to imagine some love-lorn miss waiting four years for the chance to pop the question. Today's generation are much more pro-active.

But still likely to be earning less than their men.

By and large – broad generalisations here – men and women approach work in different ways. Mostly that's a good thing. Women tend to be more thoughtful and empathetic and think of the small stuff, while men have the Big Ideas and wait for someone else to join the dots. The balance makes for a great team.

But women are more likely to work part-time, put family first and to be more hesitant about putting forward their ideas or asking for a rise.

So, although many women do better in exams than men, marriage proposals apart, there are still some ways in which they could be much more like men. Today – this once in four years opportunity – seems the perfect day to try.

In any case, it's a bonus day so it would be great to make it special – go somewhere new, try something new, take a day out of ordinary life. But as most of us have to get on with earning a living maybe we could do something else.

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Many women, of all classes and backgrounds, don't earn as much as men. From the Ford workers featured in Made in Dagenham, through city lawyers and bankers to Hollywood stars such as Jennifer Lawrence, Sandra Bullock and Reese Witherspooon, all have suffered from inequality and have been paid less than the chaps.

Despite the Equal Pay Act, which is slowly making things better, there are still plenty of loopholes and room for manoeuvre.

Employers aren't daft. If no one's asking for a rise – especially in these straitened times – then they're not going to offer one.

Those who don't ask, don't get. Men do more of the asking and so have more of the getting.

So instead of a marriage proposal today, maybe women should try popping the question about a pay rise.

It might be worth more than a pair of gloves.