Gender Equality, in a Bake Sale

At Jordan High school in Utah, a few female members of the Young Democrat’s club ran a bake sale, where they sold cookies at prices of a dollar for men and 77 cents for women. Their aim was to raise awareness on the lack of gender equality, or the equal treatment men and women within laws, policies and society (Aulette and Wittner 249) in places like the workforce, where women do get paid less than men. Kari Schott, one of the students running the sale, was interviewed along with three other students on their opinions regarding the school event. I personally believe that Kari and her friends from the Young Democrats club did a great job of addressing patriarchal privilege, the idea that many men, although not all, benefit socially and economically as men (Aulette and Wittner 10), and how it is still present in our society both socially and economically.

Many students expressed anger towards the bake sale event on social media and eventually in person. “They were really mad about it. They didn’t think it was fair and I said yeah, it’s not fair. That’s why we’re doing it” says Kari Schott (ABC 4 Utah). The three other students interviewed expressed support in their cause and a belief in gender equality, although one student, Jake Knaphus, did not support the method that Kari and her friends used to get their message across the campus. “I believe in what they’re doing, […] I just don’t believe the statistics they’re using are correct” (ABC 4 Utah).

People believe in equality, and may support the idea of it. However, once it infringes on their own privileges, they can no longer stand by it. Perhaps if the cookies had no price difference and the sellers had only given out information sheets on gender equality, the bake sale would not have caused such a stir. But these negative reactions explicitly show how privilege is taught to not be recognized by those who benefit from it (McIntosh).

So this begs a big question: are people really aware of the pressing issue in gender equality? The wage gap between men and women is apparent, but problems arise when people fail to acknowledge this issue and the significance of it. I believe that the price difference with the cookies was an important and well executed way of helping students at Jordan High become conscious of how gender equality is, and how it affects women economically.

While these students did a great job of bringing attention to a huge aspect of gender inequality and said many words of empowerment, but I found that there were some critical downfalls in the things that they didn’t say. One aspect that I find very important within the issue of gender equality and equal pay is relevant to the topic of race. Race is “a contingently deep reality that structures our particular social universe” and a way of segregating people based on their physical appearance (Mills 48).

This segregation can be seen to affect people in many places such as the workforce. Women make less money than men, and on top of that, women of colour make less than white women. In 2012, the American Association of University Women (AAUW) plotted how much a woman in the US makes, weekly. Women were categorized by their race, then by their educational standing. The plot showed that within gender inequality, there is also racial inequality. It was found that, on average, white women with advanced degrees earned about $1,164, while African American women with the same level of education earned $997 and Hispanic women at a weekly wage of $1,093. In general, women with lower levels of education were observed to earn less per week, but in every category, women of colour are consistently seen to make less than white women.

These statistics show how race and gender intersect – a connection between identities such as race, gender, and class (Aulette and Wittner 45)Similar to male privilege, people with white privilege benefit simply because they are white. Peggy McIntosh writes about how these privileges are in an ‘invisible backpack’ and everyone who benefits from some social advantage carries one. Some of these advantages are so small and normalized that people forget to acknowledge them.

I would have liked to see them address racial equality, which is an equal treatment of people regardless of race, within gender equality, since it is still very relevant to their focus on the right to equal pay. The inequality of race, especially in Western society, often goes unseen and raising awareness on racial inequality will be the only way to end it.

Aside from these, I believe and support the cause that the three girls of the Young Democrats club were fighting for. I am also glad to see that there was support shown by the students who were briefly interviewed, showing that times are slowly changing as more and more people become aware of the social issues that stop us from reaching gender equality. Also, broadcasting stories like this is important since some people may not be conscious or simply do not know of the fact that gender inequality is still present in today’s societies. Kari and her friends send a strong message to viewers, especially to younger individuals such as Kari and her friends. They show that it is the younger generations that can take the biggest steps to reaching gender equality in the future.

Works Cited:

Aulette, Judy R., and Judith Wittner. Gendered Worlds. 2nd ed. New York: Oxford University Press, 2009-12. Print.

Carlisle, Randall. “Gender Equality Bake Sale Causes Stir at Utah High School.” Good4Utah. NexStar Broadcasting, 17 Mar. 2015. Web. 02 Apr. 2015.

McIntosh, Peggy. “White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack.” Web. 02 Apr. 2015. < http://amptoons.com/blog/files/mcintosh.html&gt;

Mills, Charles W. “But what are you really?” The metaphysics of race. In Blackness visible: essays on philosophy and race (1998): 48.

“What Does a Race Have to Do with a Woman’s Salary? A lot.” AAUW: Economic Justice. 26 Apr. 2013. Web. 1 Apr. 2015.

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8 thoughts on “Gender Equality, in a Bake Sale

  1. rau

    Great blog post, aba!
    I did my blog assignment on the same topic and it was great to hear your views on it too!
    I agree that selling the cookies for the same price and giving out an informative handout would please everyone, however, I also agree with you when you say that such a method would not be effective at all. The way the Young Democrats club set up and planned their bake sale blatantly expressed the privilege they are trying to focus on and although it may have been conveyed in an “unfair” way, that is exactly what needed to happen to make the privilege visible to the students of Johnson High School and beyond.
    In addition, I feel like most people are aware of gendered privileges, especially those in the workforce because most women will experience it first hand. I just think that most people believe there is nothing they can do about it. The men higher up in the work force want to hire people who resemble them of themselves- people who can get the work done in a quick and efficient manner. So women are experiencing this inequality and men are aware of that.
    You talked a lot about intersectionality and other forms of proveleges, but do you think that society recognizes racial inequality in the same manner as gender inequality? Or class inequality to the same degree? What do you think is the difference between these types of (often times) invisible privileges?

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    1. aba Post author

      Hey Rau, you’ve made a great point there. Sometimes it is hard to get rid of the inequality if it quality of work especially in high-stress areas like business may be very demanding. Although this stands true it does not make it okay to dismiss inequality. But as long as the issues are being acknowledged and hopefully addressed in small steps, things could get better.

      I definitely feel that racial inequality in the workplace is not as recognized as it could be, and class inequality even more. I think the difference between these different types of privileges is that they affect people on different levels. Racial inequality is something that is much harder to escape than class inequality although both are very oppressive. But I think that class inequality is even more invisible than racial inequality because of this.

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  2. Jac

    Hey Aba, awesome post!

    I like how you directly integrated race alongside gender in your post especially with the statistics. I think it illustrates the vast differences between different men and women in general. I also really like how you described how this clearly challenges privilege and made people uncomfortable or angry, interestingly enough to the point where they actually thought that the statistics these girls used were wrong. The individual even says that they like what the girls are standing for. I think this really speaks to how people are quick to say “well I like equality, I like anti-racism, I like -insert some sort of social equality-“. I mean, it’d be weird for you to disagree but the moment it actually challenges your privilege, the moment it actually makes someone uncomfortable they’re hesitant to support it.

    What’s really interesting is how a black man makes less than white women, which was not articulated in the gender equality bake sale, and definitely brings up an interesting point about how predominant white privilege can sometimes be. There’s also other forms of privilege like ableism, heterosexuality, cis privilege, etc which aren’t articulated in this article. Do you think that there are ways for us to be able to integrate these varying, intersecting privileges into something like this bake sale?

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    1. aba Post author

      Hey Jac thanks for your reply! Wow, you make a really great point there that black men make less than white women, I actually did not know that. It definitely shows what an impact white privilege has.. There are definitely ways to integrate the different privileges that you mentioned, although I do believe that trying to send out such a huge message in a bake sale may be challenging and possibly ineffective as such a huge project demands for a much more organized event. The method of a simple bake sale is very limiting here. Although such a project may be hard to achieve, I would be very impressed to see a group of individuals put together such an event, as it would raise awareness like this bake sale, but at a greater level — and it would likely be very creative, too.

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  3. MJ

    Aba,

    Great piece! I think that the way the students presented the issues surrounding the wage gap was innovative and accurately gave perspective to the discrimination women face in the workplace. I too wrote about this topic, and what I found most astonishing were the comments left on the article. I really don’t think that many people are aware of the wage gap, and if they are, they choose to ignore it and blame the discrepancies on stereotypical notions of gender and family.

    I also liked how you incorporated the aspect of race with gender. it is interesting in terms of white privilege, and how that if white women make less than white men, African American men and women are even worse off. Also, I know that in Canada Aboriginal women/men are paid on average ten to twenty cents less than a white woman. I think that this is a prime example of systemic racism in Canada towards the Aboriginal peoples. This really speaks to the intersectionality of race and gender, and how it takes on a new form in the workplace.

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  4. Ash

    Hey, Aba! Great job on your analysis of this article! It’s always good to critically assess the positive aspects of culture and resistance as with the shortcomings, so I’m glad you did this with the bake sale. The wage gap between men and women is an incredibly pressing issue that many people are aware of, however, it is something that doesn’t get explicitly addressed. I agree that part of the reason is due to unacknowledged privilege, and when people have to acknowledge this privilege, it often makes them uncomfortable because it forces them to become accountable. I love how you took it a step further with an intersectional approach, stating that it’s women of colour, and even men of colour, who experience an even bigger wage gap, This gap ultimately stems from the power imbalances in the social hierarchy, and I believe this needs to be addressed in our society if we want to dismantle it and achieve true equality. How do you think transwomen, transwomen of colour, or queer women are affected by wage gaps and workplace discrimination?

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    1. aba Post author

      Hi Ash, thanks for your reply! Yes, unacknowledged privilege is the big factor here, as no one wants to take the blame for the ongoing inequality that goes on. However, part of acknowledging privilege is knowing that it is the current privileged individual’s job to try and erase these inequalities and hierarchies of power. Also, great question! I was actually going to write about that but I ran out of words otherwise I would! I definitely feel that the discrimination of transgender people are even unacknowledged than that of ciswomen and men and women of colour. I am not sure of the wage gaps, but statistics have shown that transwomen and transmen may more often experience workplace harassment and at a more violent degree also.

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  5. mac2121

    Hey Aba! Thanks so much for your work, I agree with you that the price difference with the cookies was an effective way to bring awareness towards the issue of how gender equality is, and how it affects women economically. I enjoyed how you highlighted the importance of including intersecting oppressive factors towards the issue like race. I was aware women of colour are consistently seen to make less than white women, however I wasn’t aware that the statistics were that extreme. Including the chart that showed women’s median weekly earnings by race/ethnicity and education was helpful towards my understanding. Thank you for including that, I believe it is important that people are aware of this issue. I strongly agree with you about how important and great it is that students are addressing the issue and doing something about it.

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