$mart $tart aims to close gender wage gap
Buy a house, travel, invest, buy a car - these were just some of the suggestions of what the room full of two-dozen women who gathered for the $tart $mart workshop would do with $1.2 million.
$1.2 million is the estimated sum that women will miss out on over the course of their lifetimes due to the gender wage gap, a gender wage gap that the $tart $mart initiative hopes to end. These workshops were started by the WAGE project (WAGE which, in this case, stands for Women Are Getting Even) in 2007 with the objective "to end discrimination against women in the American workplace" and to do so by "inspiring and helping women to take the steps needed so that every woman is paid what she's worth."
Sponsored by the Women's Center and the African American Cultural Center, the three-hour interactive workshop took steps towards achieving WAGE's objective by arming women with the tools they need to close the gender-wage gap and end salary inequality between women and men, namely teaching women about salary negotiations.
This is where the workshop became interactive. Attendees of the workshop were taught how to research the average salaries for specific jobs at the WAGE website and how to judge themselves against that average when preparing to negotiate salaries. The young women then took part in role-play exercises to practice negotiating salaries and boost their confidence to do so in the future.
Valerie Pare attended the event because, for her, the practice will be put into use soon.
"I expect to have to go through these sort of negotiations in the near future so I came hoping to gain skills in that area," Pare said. "The workshop gave me some concrete negotiation dialogue to work with."
Having a college degree, as Pare does, is less of a buffer to wage inequality than one might think. Most of the workshop attendees were undergraduate students who became all too aware of the way this wage gap affects college graduates; research carried out by the American Association of University Women shows that only one year out of college, women working full-time get paid 82 cents of what their male counterparts earn.
A large part of the cause of this is reluctance on the part of women to negotiate their salaries, an issue the workshop leader Kathy Fischer hopes to help young women with.
"We know from research that women get paid 77 cents to every man's dollar but also we know that we are not socialised in a way that empowers women to advocate for themselves," Fischer said. "The goal is to hopefully empower women to do that."
To find out more about upcoming events at womenscenter.uconn.edu and to learn more about $tart $mart and the WAGE project, students can visit wageproject.org.
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