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End the Gender Pay Gap

Highlighting the impact of the gender pay gap on university educated women and what it implies for the value of their degree.

The Ontario Undergraduate Student Alliance (OUSA) is launching a campaign to bring attention to the gender pay gap in Ontario. Female university graduates make an average of about $300,000 less over the course of their career as compared to male university graduates, according to Statistics Canada. The Pay Equity Commission of Ontario calculates that the overall gender pay gap in Ontario is still 30 per cent.

“It’s incredibly important to make sure that the gender pay gap is a problem that young adults are aware of, and feel empowered to have conversations about,” said Jen Carter, President of OUSA. “The gap is not shrinking the way one would expect, especially given that more women than men are now graduating from university in Ontario. As the generation moving into the workforce, it’s time to start making some noise and critically looking at how and why these inequities continue to be perpetuated.”

A recent study by the Fraser Institute indicated that women who pursue postsecondary education are nonetheless subject to a sizeable pay difference with their male peers. For every dollar a university-educated man makes in the public sector, a university-educated woman makes 82 cents. In the private sector, this number drops to 73 cents.

“The government invests in students to invest in a healthy society,” said Carter. “As it stands right now, the majority of Ontario’s ‘young, bright future stock’ is yielding lower returns. Working to end the gender pay gap is in everyone’s best interests.”

One aspect of the campaign depicts the fictional “Bachelorette Degree,” parodying how workplaces seemingly differentiate educational qualifications by gender. Students are encouraged to engage on social media about their #bachelorettedegree and why they want to end the pay gap.

“Talking about the ‘Bachelorette Degree’ is an attempt to satirize the way women’s education is undervalued in our society,” said Shawn Murphy, OUSA Steering Committee member and Trent-Oshawa Student Union vice president of university affairs. “It’s ridiculous to think that our universities would issue hisand-hers degrees to graduates-that would be degrading and obviously wrong. Yet research shows that your gender identity has a very real impact on your ability to leverage your education in the workplace.”