Gender Equality Bake Sale: Whose voices are missing?

CAlgytEUgAAVzFu President Obama once stated as following when remarking on equal pay for equal work, “Today, the average full-time working woman earns just 77 cents for every dollar a man earns…in 2014, that’s an embarrassment. It is wrong” (qtd. in Kessler). Recently, a group of high school students held a bake sale on campus, using this statement as the support for their struggle with gender inequality. According to the interview done by Randall Carlisel, I found the voices in his interview about the opinions towards this event are incomplete. We are easy to find that most people in his interview praised these students’ action except for only one student suspecting the statistics they are using. Therefore, people should realize that the voices of adults who can think comprehensively and realistically (e.g. teachers and sociologists) are missing. Since there exist many causes for gender pay gap that cannot be attributed to gender inequality, however, have great influences on widening the wage gap, it would be biased discussing the inequality based merely on this statement. In the following article are some examples of these inevitable factors.

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Firstly, the organization of jobs is one of the most important factors of wage gap, which should not be attributed to gender inequality. According to the descriptions of gender socialization, “ individuals are taught how to socially behave in accordance with their assigned gender, which is assigned at birth based on their biological sex”(Tolmie). For example, the toys and games parents select for children are often unconsciously intended to socialize them into the appropriate gender roles. Girls receive dolls in an attempt to socialize them into future roles as mothers. Since women are expected to be more nurturing than men, giving a girl a doll teaches her to care for it and fosters the value of caring for others. When boys receive dolls, they are likely to be action figures designed to bring out the alleged aggressive tendencies in boys. Consequently, as it is explained by the principles of hegemonic masculinity, women are more likely to be nurses, secretaries and teachers who are usually in subordinate social position while men, in the contrary, are usually in the dominant social position – being doctors, CEOs and principals. The different characteristics and talents between men and women will results in gender segregation of jobs, which becomes one main explanations for the gender wage gap because men-dominated occupations tend to pay better than women-dominated occupations (Aulette & Wittner, 193).Still people have to be aware that even when women are in female occupations they are still paid less then male counter-parts because anything tie to the feminine is undervalued.

Secondly, the statistics the promoters are using fail to take race and classes into consideration. As it is shown in Table 1, when compared with non-Hispanic white men (a benchmark used because they make up the largest demographic group in the labor force), the pay gap is much worse for many women of color when compared to non-Hispanic white women. Thus, it can be seen that the low

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wages for women in color is an indispensable factor for the overall large gender pay gap in America. While the generally lower graduation rates being a factor for lower wage paying for women in color, the statistics show that many of them tend to be paid less than their white peers even when they have the same educational background (Wallace). A possible explanation is discrimination, which is attributed largely to the history of colonialism and capitalism. During the colonial era, “colonialism exists in the form of white supremacy, which posits that white skin is somehow superior/better to darker skin” (Tolmie). As it is more directly pointed out in one article of R.G. Price, “With very few exceptions, all slaves were African and brought to America for the sole purpose of free labor and thereby all people with dark or black skin were labeled something less than human in comparison to the white population” (Price). These ideas still exist today in the form of racial stereotypes and prejudices and racist violence, which can be clearly reflected in the wage gap between female peers in America. Thus, it can be seen that how important it is to to mention the races and class elements as well when analyzing the gender wage gap.

Despite the fact that there are lots of factors attributed to inevitable gender wage gap, we can never deny that there do exist pay inequality between genders and these students are popularizing the right thing. However, it can be seen that their efforts are actually helping only white, able-bodied people, people who are at the disadvantaged position or minor position in society, for example, LGBTQ people, disabled people and people of colour,  are not benefiting from the statement of equal pay for equal work.  It can be seen clearly, most people in the video being interviewed are all white, even including the promoters of this event. Therefore, there is lack of representations of diversified groups of people speaking of their voices. And it is probably these people, are experiencing the most unequal treat in wages. I am not saying that there is no wage gap between genders by this article.

I really appreciate those students’ awareness of the inequalities in society and make actions to prevent it at such a young age. Nevertheless, they need to explain the problems more clearly and analyze it in different standing points rather than just copy what a legitimate source said, because that’s the only way to convince the public. Also, the public should never merely rely on the words of people being interviewed in the news to make a judgment, even though it appears to be a justice event, however, should keep a critical mind to figure out whose voices is missing.

Works Cited

Aulette, Judy Root, and Judith G. Wittner. “Gender and the Global Economy.” In Gendered Worlds. New York: Oxford University Press, 2009.

Wallace, Rachel. “By the Numbers: A Look at the Gender Pay Gap.” AAUW

Empowering Women Since 1881 By the Numbers A Look at the Gender Pay Gap Comments. September 18, 2014. Accessed April 3, 2015. http://www.aauw.org/2014/09/18/gender-pay-gap/.

Price, R.G. “Understanding Capitalism Part III: Wages and Labor Markets.”

Understanding Capitalism Part III: Wages and Labor Markets. January 11, 2005. Accessed April 3, 2015. http://www.rationalrevolution.net/articles/capitalism_wages.htm.

Tolmie, Jane. “GNDS 125.” Classs Lecture, “Gender Socialization”, January 8, 2015.

Tolmie, Jane. “GNDS 125.” Class Lecture, Globalization, Colonialism, and Orientalism in Visual Culture, January 29, 2015.

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3 thoughts on “Gender Equality Bake Sale: Whose voices are missing?

  1. Your blog has a very strong quote from President Obama at the start, it really engages the reader right from the start, while still putting your point across. I agree with you that the voices that were missing were adults who can think comprehensively and realistically such as teachers or sociologists. We were not really allowed to see both sides of the argument, but really just those who were praising the students for their actions. I also agree that gender is not the only factor of the widening wage gap. The organization of jobs is a big factor when talking about the wage gap. Most of the reason we have gender gaps in our society is because of the stereotypes placed on men and women. Men are seemed to have the higher paying jobs because society believes they are more capable in that position. These positions happen to be higher paying jobs as they consist of occupations such as lawyers, doctors, and architects. On the other hand, society sees women as nurturing, motherly characters. In result of this stigma placed on women they are more likely to apply and pursue occupations such as nursing. These jobs have less responsibility and therefore they are paid a lower salary. You got this point head on, and I also agree to the fact that it stems right from childhood. As we place gender stereotypes the moment a child is born and their sex is identified. The fact that you incorporated how race and class has an effect on the widening wage gap is also interesting. I agree with the fact that gender does not have the only effect on the wage gap. I as a women and a minority in a purely white partirachy society, I hope that I do not have to deal with the discrimination of the wage gap based upon my gender, sex or class in the future. It is despicable how society has allowed the wage gap to get this big. Overall, your blog was amazing and very engaging to read, you did an amazing job!

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  2. To begin with, I loved how you included a quote from President Obama right from the start – by seeing their cause supported (if not directly) by a person in such a position of power lends a sense of validation to the cause. For instance, when hearing a statement pertaining to something such as the wage gap from a teenager, CEO, or the president, which are you more likely to believe? I would also like to point out that while it is true that teachers can think in a comprehensive matter – in fact, they are generally taught to do so in their university career – some students possess the same ability. Moreover, teachers are human and as such are fallible, and are often just as biased as anyone else. Further, in high school I actually had two teachers give me conflicting opinions on whether the wage gap existed. When it comes to issues like these, position (such as teacher) does not mean authority on an issue, especially one which may be seen as controversial. I definitely agree with the fact that children begin to receive gender socialization at an early age, and may subconsciously choose certain career positions as a result. While that certainly affects wage, it does not play a role in the wage gap. The 77 cents to every dollar is not so much variant on position – it is that women in the same job with the same credentials are still paid less than their male counterpart. In fact, a few months ago information was leaked on the wages of actors, and it was apparent that the females were making hundreds of thousands less than male actors was. Granted, it is difficult to judge these things based on acting, as wage is variant on how big a movie is, how much experience an actor has, what role they’re playing, etc. However, even in other positions in which there is much less leeway, females are still being paid less for the same job. I really liked how, when discussing the types of jobs chosen, you used ones with less authority versus ones with more authority as examples, but ones that directly correlated (i.e. teacher/principle, doctor/nurse,secretaries/CEOs). I also liked how you incorporated race and class, as both are very important factors and neither are incorporated into the idea of the bake sale. I also liked how you brought the issue of slavery into it as well. You stated that “…LGBTQ people, disabled people and people of colour, are not benefiting from the statement of equal pay for equal work.” However, it is meant to incorporate everyone, meaning that equal pay should go for equal work, regardless of the workers race, ethnicity, gender, sex, sexual orientation, etc. However, I certainly agree that none of the people mentioned in your statement are directly benefiting from the idea behind this bake sale (which is solely the wage gap based on gender) and that equal pay for everyone should be fought for as well.

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  3. Jacqueline,

    Your take on this article was very interesting to read, as were all of your blog posts.When you connected the history of colonialism to this issue, I was able to think about Obama’s position on this issue as a black man of power in the United States. This power dynamic provokes not only insight, but controversy to the gender inequality at hand here. His positionality broadens this issue as a whole, and adds a layer of intersectionality that the article/video of the high school bake sale could not. In addition to your points of colonialism, I would be intrigued to add a point about the influence of the scientific world at that time. For example, Darwin’s system of Natural Selection was applied to only white males, which made them selected as the ‘superior race’ – this system largely impacted the discrimination we see in the world today, and we have most definitely been able to see this in regards to the wage gap we are experiencing in North America today. As always, it was great to read your blog. 🙂 Hope you enjoyed your exchange at Queen’s; have a great summer!

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