The Gender Pay Gap: Everyone's Problem

Upon the release of the Bachelorette Campaign, I was happy to see the attention this campaign was bringing to the overwhelming gender wage gap present in today’s society. The fact that today’s women are being paid 30 percent less than males in the work place was something that shocked and bothered me.

But as the campaign continued on, I started to contemplate “As a male, why should this matter to me?” Likewise, I have heard from many other undergraduate males here at Western make similar remarks; “While unfortunate for women of our society, how does this impact us?” I realized this issue was unfair to women and I wholeheartedly support the campaign, but wanted reasons that would influence all genders to become involved and care.

As a result of these questions, I wanted to figure out: “Why does this matter to men- or specifically, how can we invite men to feel like this is their problem too?”

It bothers me that today’s brilliant and creative females (many being much more brilliant and creative than yours truly) might be undervalued because of issues of privilege and opportunity. As I began to examine the Bachelorette Degree campaign and its initiatives, it struck me that I have never quite considered why, or how, I have gotten to where I am today. This is when I grasped why this gender pay gap really matters to all of society and why it rightly bothers me. From a male perspective, I don’t ever want my successes in life, my salary, or my future, to be determined as a result of my appearance or gender. The reason I hope to excel academically, and within my future career is because I deserve it.  As men with integrity and ambition, it makes sense that we try to build the truest form of meritocracy we can.

Secondly, I think men should feel invested in closing the gender pay gap because they are uniquely positioned to make change.  With privilege comes a platform, and using our platform to bring the issue of wage equality to our schools and workplaces is an important step in shifting paradigms. Recognizing that male privilege is not likely to diminish in the next decade, young male graduates of today will likely be in hiring positions and positions of power, and can work with intentionality to encourage better pay transparency and wage equality. Men have an elevated capacity to raise concerns and have those concerns taken seriously- they should leverage this advantage to lend their voice to the women around them.

The Bachelorette Degree campaign is an great piece of satire, highlighting the issue for the rights of women in today’s society. This campaign has an unbelievable potential to make a difference and people need to know about the 30 percent difference so that change can occur. Matt Helfand, president of the USC says “I care [about the wage gap] because the work force in Canada ought to be based solely on merit and any other factors should not have to do with anyone’s compensations or accomplishments in their career.” It can be as simple as saying: I care that the wage gap exists, I care that my future is determined by who I am and not my gender, and I care about the rights and equalities of everyone.

Women need to be paid the same amount as their male counterparts. Jobs should be given to those who are the most deserving. Salaries should be based off of a person’s work, dedication, and commitment. Gender is but a cultural definition, not a prescribed pay bracket. These statements may seem obvious and intuitive, but the fact that the pay gap persists means that we need to keep repeating them. I pride myself on the fact that who I am, what I have done, and the things I have learned are what have gotten me to the places I am today. If these accomplishments were a result of my gender, it would diminish what I have done and who I have become. When it comes to a job, a promotion, or even acceptance into an academic program, the person, their goals, dreams, achievements, and experience should be of principal importance. No longer should women, first nations or any other minorities be paid differently than men. It’s time for change to happen, and that change can only result from the continued commitment of all genders to end the pay gap.

Jamie Cleary