Like most women of my age, I was raised to question my own worth. It wasn't just my parents that instilled this in me - it was part of how society was in the 1950's. Women had been encouraged to enter the work force during the war, then were pushed back into the home and proper 'women's work' when it was over - where we didn't get paid, our time wasn't valued the same way a man's was and we were expected to do things like 'share' and work for free as volunteers.
During the 1970's that began to change (thanks Betty Friedan, and others), but that sort of attitude has deep roots.
For the longest time I felt very...awkward...about people referring to me as a 'master' weaver - in spite of having the paper to show for it. (Thanks to my supportive spouse for getting this mug made, to remind me that I did, indeed, fulfill the requirements for the Master Weaver Certificate - as granted by the Guild of Canadian Weavers.)
Even today, women typically make 70% of what a man in the same position will make.
So, appropriately enough, this Labour Day weekend a furor of sorts has broken out, centered on what is a fair wage for fibre arts instructors. This group is largely filled by women - with a few men.
The target audience is typically women - with a few men.
Over the years I have struggled to set myself a fee that I felt would be 'fair' - not just for myself, but for those hiring me. Knowing that the audience for my classes is about 99% female, and the reality of the economics of women, I have kept my fee as low as possible. Also I have factored in the fact that my travel costs to anywhere are going to be much higher than other people.
Add into that the fact that I have not reviewed or adjusted my fee for three years, and my daily rate is woefully out of date.
I am also reaching an age where the stress of travel - time zone changes can be as much as four hours from the west to the east - the general stress of wondering what Mother Nature will throw in my path, airlines that arrive late so I miss my connecting flight(s), sleeping in strange beds, food that may - or may not - be 'safe' for me to eat - or else I don't eat as much as I need meaning I may be teaching on a near empty stomach, trying to explain things in as many different ways as required to reach the majority of the students.
There is also the aspect that someone like myself who - and it is difficult for me to say this - has an international reputation - is under pricing herself, potentially making other teachers who *are* charging a more realistic daily fee look 'bad'.
After thinking about all of the aspects of being an itinerant teacher the choice is obvious - I either quit - or I increase my fee to something that more realistically reflects what others of my stature are charging (and I can't tell you how hard it is for me to accept that I AM a 'name' - I need to keep that mug out and use it daily to make myself believe I am what it says I am! A friend gave me a tiara - perhaps I need to wear it around the house to remind myself I am...special???)
And thus I make this announcement. For those guilds who have contacted me for prices, I will honour the quote I have given. Beginning today, my teaching fee is now $600 per day, plus travel costs, plus food and lodging. Workshops will also have an attached material fee, depending on what is supplied. The hosting guild will provide the handouts - because carrying handouts in my luggage means an over weight bag, which is already full of teaching samples (and textiles for sale during the event.) This fee is still on the low end. I am keeping it on the lower end because I recognize that my travel costs will be higher than pretty much any other teacher out there - unless they come from abroad.