Cookies for Equality

The fight for gender equality is one that has been ongoing throughout time. One of the first women’s movements was the movement to allow women to vote, since then the divide between male and female has seemingly decreased. However there is one area where a colossal gap exists between genders and it cannot be ignored. This is the equality of wages.

In this article we saw a group of young girls at a high school putting on a bake sale where men could buy two cookies for a $1 and women could buy the same two cookies for 77 cents. This was a demonstration of the wage inequality in America where women on average make 77 cents to every mans dollar. In Canada the wage gap is actually 26% for full time jobs, in other words women make 74 cents to every mans dollar. The Canadian Government actually has provided a list that explains factors resulting in this this wage gap. This list is as follows:

  • Women leaving the workforce for family care-giving responsibilities
  • Traditionally lower levels of education (this factor is becoming less relevant)
  • Less unionization amongst female workers
  • Discrimination in hiring, promotion and compensation practices in the workplace.

It is clear that there is one factor that really jumps out at you and that would be the overall discrimination against women in the work place. Especially considering that it has been estimated that 10 – 15% of the wage gap is due to discrimination

Historically, men have been the breadwinners of the family while women have been left to child rearing and matters of the home. In the work place this history of men being the only ones working has created a power structure where men hold a dominance over women in the work place. This model of men holding the power and being in executive positions in the workplace has been proven time and time again for example; as of 2013 only 14.6% of executive officers in Fortune 500 companies were women. This power structure is fueled by the hegemonic masculinity that is ever present in today’s society. Hegemonic masculinity can be defined as practices that promote the dominant social position of men and the subordinate social position of women. This social construct is rooted deeply in today’s society through historical facts and present day stereotypes and is only reinforced by the wage gap as well as the lack of women in positions of power in the workplace.

While this article calls into question the inequality of wages between men and women it neglects to bring up the difference inequality of wages in race. In terms of who is speaking in the video we see a white group of female students, a white news reporter as well as predominantly white students being interviewed. All these individuals are discussing how unfair the wage gap between males and females are however no one calls into question how wage differs with race. As shown time and time again we see white privilege coming into play. In the video we see a group of individuals who for the most part will never have their race be an issue for them getting a job or moving up in the workplace.

In 2013, for every dollar that a white man made, a Black man made 75 cents and a Hispanic man made 67 cents. These stats alone make it evident that the wage gap extends far deeper than just gender inequality. Once again power structures, and white privilege are displayed as white men are consistently in positions of dominance in our society. This is also an area where Respectability Politics play a huge role for people of colour to move up in the workplace. Politics of respectability is when marginalized groups attempt to show their own social values as being like-minded to the mainstream values as opposed to challenging the mainstream for its lack of acceptance. Immigrants, people of colour and other marginalized groups attempt to conform themselves to what is considered the norm in order to gain a place in society. Those who do not conform to what is comfortable for the majority of the population often live impoverished lifestyles that can lead to crime.

In Canada only 4% of the population is Aboriginal however 20% of the inmates are aboriginal. 64% of Aboriginal children are below the poverty line compared to 16% among non-Aboriginal children. And the unemployment rate of Aboriginal’s is 13.9% compare to 6% for non-Aboriginal people. These statistics are not sheer coincidence but caused by institutional racism. In these facts alone we see how both government bodies and private business corporations are functioning as systems of racial inequality.

It is evident that the wage gap between gender and race is going so much deeper than just a loss of money. This gap is perpetuating a cycle of poverty and crime that simply cannot be viewed as acceptable. Clearly there are both individual and systemic changes that must be made. While cookies for equality may bringing attention to this wage gap, it does not even begin to scratch the surface of the underlying issues.

-vws

References

Carlisle, Randall, and Associated Press. ‘Gender Equality Bake Sale Causes Stir At Utah High School’. Good4Utah. N.p., 2015. Web. 9 Apr. 2015.

Catalyst.org,. ‘Knowledge Center | Catalyst.Org’. N.p., 2014. Web. 9 Apr. 2015.

Infoplease.com,. ‘The Wage Gap By Gender & Race Timeline History (White, Black, Hispanic, Men & Women)’. N.p., 2015. Web. 9 Apr. 2015.

Payequity.gov.on.ca,. ‘The Gender Wage Gap | Pay Equity Commission’. N.p., 2015. Web. 9 Apr. 2015.

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3 thoughts on “Cookies for Equality

  1. Great job identifying the privilege that remains for white men and women, even in a context that is already extremely complex. I think your discussion really showcases the intersecting nature of inequality in society. Issues that perhaps any bakesale would be inadequate in tackling effectively.
    I think that maybe the positive part of having these children making the effort to raise some sort of awareness, is that there is a relatively new voice being heard. Their concern, even if it does not entirely encompass the complexity of wage gaps, and even if they are ultimately white and experience some privilege because of it, they are still the younger generation trying to contribute to making change on a small level.

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  2. I liked how you included the list of factors that contribute to the wage gap as it provided a little more of an understanding of the entirety of the situation.

    I agree with your statement about how the power structure is fueled by hegemonic masculinity since it has been engrained throughout history that men are the one’s who should be providing for their families. How can this attitude be eliminated in the changing times where women are becoming more independent? The idea that men are the ones who hold the power is only being reinforced by only hiring men for those high up positions when what should be being done is hiring the individual who is most qualified, not taking into account whether they are male or female.

    Good job at emphasizing how the idea of race did not come into play throughout the video embedded in the article, since that is such a significant issue when it comes to income inequality.

    Again, I agree with you in your concluding statement that the wage gap leads to much bigger issues and that something more impactful than a bake sale to promote equality needs to be done.

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  3. I too wrote about this article and found that the bakesale, while admirable, really didn’t address the complexity of the issue that is gender equality. I really like that you drew attention to the intersection of gender and race and the subsequent wage gap, because although the gap exists between all men and all women, it impacts different races disproportionately.
    I agree that the students most likely do experience white privilege, however in Sandy, Utah where Jordan high school is located, the city is 94% white. Moreover males have a median income of $47,031 versus $29,661 for females (2000 census). Gender inequality may be the issue that is most salient to the students and it is possible that they were not taking into account their positionality.
    My biggest issue with the bakesale was not that they didn’t specifically address issues of race, but rather that the students didn’t elaborate enough on any of the complexities of the problem (including systemic racism and glass ceiling effects) that result in the income disparity. I agree with Katie’s comment though that the students are perhaps inciting change on a small level.

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