To begin with, I found this article to be quite interesting. It’s certainly an interesting way to demonstrate gender inequality and the wage gap. To sum it up, a group of high school students held a bake sale in which guys had to pay $1.00 for a cookie, as opposed to girls who had to pay $0.77. The purpose was to showcase the differences in pay faced by men and women within America, where on average women only make 77 cents to every dollar a man makes. This sparked controversy, and most importantly, conversation.
(Found at http://video-static.clipsyndicate.com/zStorage/clipsyndicate/271/2015/03/18/02/51/swlmmwmgwsrdmpvdysco.jpg)
I believe that it was an excellent way to demonstrate the wage gap – an issue that is hard to portray simply by discussing it, as comparing a dollar to 77 cents may not seem like that big of a deal. However, when it’s actually embodied in front of a person who is forced to pay more, the severity and unfairness of it becomes much clearer.
Before really diving into the issue, I would like to point out that these statistics are more relevant to white, able-bodied men and women than to men and women of ethnic groups, who on average are paid much less than their white counterparts. Likewise, people who are able-bodied are often also paid less (Aboriginal).
That being said, ethnic voices were excluded entirely. Even within the comments, based on the profile pictures it seems that it is predominantly white men arguing that these statistics are untrue and white women arguing the opposite. Many of the men arguing against these statistics have used derogatory terms, insults, and unbacked statistics to try and support their arguments. Some examples from the comments are “…men pay for more than half of the cost of having and raising children.”, referring to these statistics as an “anti-scientific lie”, and my personal favourite “I do think though that in many jobs a man is more productive… so in some jobs men are on average superior…” (Carlisle, in the comments)
(Retrieved from http://amysrobot.com/files/pay.jpg)
Many people argue that the inequality does not actually exist, and that if it does it is merely a 5% wage differences as opposed to a 23% difference. The underlying issue relates directly back to entrenched sexism within society, reaching back to the time of colonialism. Before European settlers came to Canada, equality was not just an idea but was a practice among Aboriginal citizens, and jobs were shared among both sexes, though a gender split was still apparent (Colonialism And Slavery Handouts). However, following the arrival of colonial settlers in which Aboriginals were colonized, suppressed, and ultimately dominated over, it became a very male-dominated society, in which white men held more power than anyone else (Tolmie, Jane, week 9). These power systems have become heavily integrated into our society, meaning that straight, able-bodied white men are generally viewed as those with the most power (Aulette & Wittner).
I find it interesting that the comments themselves exhibit these power systems – there are a much greater amount of comments from white males than there are from any other group of people. This, paired with the fact that the majority of people in positions of power (i.e. the government) are white, able-bodied males, contributes to the inequality and oppression of other groups – when there is a majority group in power, their interests are often looked after and met far before the interests of others.
Further, when a crime is committed by a young white man, for instance, news stations often focus on the potential that this person had or basically lessen the severity of the crime by making what could be considered excuses for the criminal. Meanwhile, there is a tendency to focus on what the victim did or did not do beforehand. On the flip side, if the offender is a person of colour, the severity of the crime is often stressed and very rarely are excuses made. This speaks of the racism present within society, and is portrayed through the reactions of different news stations regarding the rape case discussed in week 11 (Tolmie, Jane, Week 11).
Focusing solely on the career aspect of this issue, a great example is the glass ceiling effect, in which women of all ethnicities and men belonging to ethnic groups are unable to reach high-paying jobs, despite there seemingly being no reason. It is as if there is an invisible barrier there, preventing people from moving up into better jobs.
(Retrieved from http://www.kchronicles.com/comics/2012-07-22_glass_ceiling-2665b5af.gif)
Ultimately, I believe that this was a fantastic way to get conversation going, and was certainly a great thing for high school students to do. However, it is not enough to create significant change. This is exhibited through the comments, and the utter denial clearly seen. Issues like this need to be targeted by the government, and individuals who hold a fair amount of power. It must be taught to people, publicized, etc. Only then, once people are truly aware of what is going on, can a difference be made.
Aboriginal peoples in Canada: Repairing the relationship. (2010). Unequal Relations, 165-200.
Carlisle, R. (2015, March 17). Gender equality bake sale causes stir at Utah high school. Retrieved April 5, 2015, from http://www.good4utah.com/story/d/story/gender-equality-bake-sale-causes-stir-at-utah-high/10246/0gE6cCkPA0mvNkLZEjyO4Q
Colonialism and Slavery notes, as provided by Maria-Teresa.
Tolmie, Jane, Week 9
Tolmie, Jane, Week 11, Monday Class
Aulette, Judy Root, and Judith G. Wittner. Gendered Worlds. 2nd ed. New York: Oxford UP, 2012. 18-120. Print.