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.
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>
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.