Re: It's only when you ...
I’m glad your workmate was fully competent; it sounds like your employer places priority on safety and does not reduce standards for women to pump up the ranks. That behaviour, documented in the armed forces and fire-fighting, places the feelings of women above the very lives of the people they are there to protect; while a woman may avoid feeling offended at being rejected for a physically demanding job because she’s just not strong enough, people may very well die if their rescuer is not physically up to the task.
Since your co-worker was nothing like this, and she works on equal basis and with equal evaluation standards, she is an example of the ideal I hold. It makes perfect sense for people with equal qualifications, experience and seniority to be paid the same — and that, in fact, is exactly what happens. The “pay gap” is vapourware.
“But,” I hear the peanut gallery bellow, “Women on average make only 77% of what men make on average! Patriarchy!!!” — but this, too, is manure. Men make more money on average than women do, because men tend to make hard decisions that result in higher-paying employment. This includes work that is unpleasant and/or dangerous work, which pays more because it’s dangerous and unpleasant, but which women are seldom willing to perform. Don’t believe me? Have you ever seen a garbage man who was, in fact, a woman? I haven’t, and believe me, I would have noticed.
As a result, men on average earn more than women. But they are maimed and killed VASTLY more often by that work: 95% of all workplace fatalities are men. Oddly, you never hear feminists discussing this 20-to-1 death rate.
Once again: your coworker was a delightful exception, and I love nothing more than working alongside smart, skilled women. Every single person I have met who fits this description has been an anti-feminist.