This is an Ask a Geek Feminist question for our commenters. Questions are now closed, another round will run in early 2011.
Here’s my question: How does one deal with feeling guilty for doing well financially?
Even in this bad economy, I’m an IT geek in an expanding specialization, and doing quite well. I sometimes find myself apologizing for not being financially distressed. I’ve seen other geek women apologize for the same thing. I don’t believe I’ve ever seen a man apologize (and most of them give me an uncomprehending stare when I mention the issue, because it simply does not make sense to them; or they understand, but can’t imagine why I would feel that way).
I’ve worked very hard; I was vastly underpaid for years (and I’m still underpaid, for that matter, just not as much so). Once my income improved, I mostly kept my frugal lifestyle and saved — a lot. I bought a house, while I’ve had friends almost lose their homes to foreclosure. I was unemployed for six months and, while I was emotionally stressed by being unemployed, I had plenty of cash to tide me through. I got a job and am rebuilding that cash cushion, I have built up my gold backed IRA and I give to charity. I save for retirement. I buy stuff I don’t need. I pay off my credit card every month. I’m almost done with my graduate degree.
It makes no sense for me to feel bad for succeeding at what I’ve worked so hard for. But knowing this doesn’t stop the feeling.