Bringing attention to gendered wage gap

A new campaign called the “bachelorette degree” has been launched by the Ontario Undergraduate Student Alliance aimed at raising awareness about the 2015 gender wage gap that exists in Ontario.

OUSA’s bachelorette degree is a fictional term used by the campaign to describe how workplaces differentiate men and women with the same educational background.

According to Rick Camman, vice-president of administration and human resources at OUSA and vice-president of university affairs at Wilfrid Laurier University Students’ Union, the idea behind the campaign is to “let students know that universities wouldn’t hand out degrees worth 25 to 30 per cent less to females since their wage would be less than males in the work field.”

“It’s just trying to raise the conversation and not only women but people of all genders to discuss this and find out why this is still happening in society and what we can do about it specifically in Ontario,” Camman said.

The idea for the campaign began in December and was created by Jasmine Irwin, OUSA’s director of communications.

According to Camman and the Canadian Centre of Policy Alternatives, the gender pay gap in Ontario is still 30 per cent. For every dollar a man makes in in Ontario, women only make 82 to 85 cents.

“So even though we kind of assumed today that the gap is almost gone, the reality is that regardless of the gap — whether it’s 30 per cent, 15 per cent or 10 per cent — the fact is that the gap is still there and whether it’s big or not that gap is still a huge problem,” Camman explained.

The campaign is not targeted at specific universities or workplaces, but is meant to get individuals talking about the gender pay gap overall.

“What are employers in Ontario doing despite having legislations and laws that are supposed to protect the people from discrimination and pay gaps?” Camman said.

Danielle McKay, a third-year double degree student in communication studies and English at Laurier, explained that although women get less money because of their gender, she is not nervous about going into the public relations industry.

“There are a lot of women in the PR work field. If I was going into a more [male] dominated field, such as engineering, than I would be a little more nervous,” she said.

Promotions for the campaign will be done over social media. Camman hopes to have more people promoting the campaign on Laurier’s Waterloo campus before the end of the winter semester.

OUSA is also trying to get other university campuses to promote the campaign both through social media and on-the-ground work.

OUSA is also looking to work with Laurier’s Diversity and Equity Office in hopes that they will also take part in promoting the campaign.

“We do believe they are the experts in this. We talked to Laura Mae [Lindo] about this and she wanted to do the idea, but stuff comes up and students get busy and schedules. We’re just trying to figure it all out as we speak,” Camman said.

Camman noted that the gender wage gap is a complex topic most people have difficulty talking about.

“It’s just trying to get the awareness out there that even though it’s 2015 we’re still not where we should be.”

 

 

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