On March 17 of this year, a high school in Utah held an unusual bake sale: if a male purchased a cookie, it sold for a dollar and an identical cookie sold for 0.77 cents if purchased by a female. The Young Democrats Club at the high school used this bake sale as a tactic to raise awareness about the pay gap between men and women that is still a concern in current society. This movement suggests that we live in an androcentric world, dominated by male thinking and male power. The bake sale is one of many examples of feminists acting towards a future that embraces justice, including equal pay for equal work.
The reporter for this event introduced the story as a quiz: two identical cookies, one sells for a dollar, the other sells for 0.77 cents, why? This was possibly a vague tactic allowed people to form their own ideas before the question was answered. After the report stated that there is a pay gap between men and women, it then proceeded to interview students at the high school to record their opinions about the event. Many were fully supportive of the message the bake sale was trying to spread. However, one student said that he would like to see some statistics because he did not believe such a severe pay gap still exists. This is interesting because this student is a male himself, unaware of the inequality women face around him. In addition, this student is incorrect because although the average pay gap between males and females have lessened over the last 12 months, men, on average, still receive 21% more money annually than women (Teresa 2015). Although the reporter engaged with the students at the high school, there was more of a focus on the stir the bake sale caused, leaving less emphasis on the subject the bake sale was attempting to spread: the pay gap between men and women.
While reading the comments section of the article, I noticed that someone mentioned the bake sale did not address the issues that both minority men and women suffer from a pay gap as well. Research shows that despite academic achievement, pay gaps likely continue between races with African Americans receiving the largest gaps followed by Hispanics and Asians (NA 2014). In 2011, the University of California Berkeley addressed this issue by holding a bake sale which required varying prices for different races purchasing identical baked goods (CNN Wire Staff 2011). Unfortunately, this bake sale is a much more realistic example of how society is structured compared to the bake sale at the high school in Utah.
In addition to not addressing all cultures, this bake sale engages in gender polarization, or placing males and females on opposite sides of the gender spectrum with no recognition of those in between. This alienates transgender, queers and those who identify as gender neutral. Although this bake sale is progressive, it continues to be narrow minded, failing to encompass all individuals. Both the high school students and reporter did not mention diversity among people which causes the report to lack depth and detailed description. An intersectional analysis may have been beneficial in this report in order to address that there is more to society than white, heterosexual men and women. There is an emphasis on the social construction of gender which give privilege to white men specifically, but also to white women. Therefore, this report and bake sale are biased towards what is perceived as “normal”.
The presentation of the pay gap between men and women represent one of many concerns surrounding modern day feminism. A novel by Susan Faludi discusses the repercussions many experience when fighting for equal rights. Faludi states that the average female college graduate today earns less than a man with only a high school diploma (1991). Although conditions have improved over the last 20 years, we remain in a juxtaposition where we reside within the same country, under the same laws, however we remain divided.
A pattern is created where problems arise and people respond in varying intensities. The inequality represented in the pay gap is pivotal to inspire young people to advocate for the growing need for gender equality, especially in the workplace. Therefore, I applaud the high school students who introduced this bake sale and the reporter who described the story. Although the reporter refrains from including the entire range on the gender spectrum, he focuses on the controversy the bake sale created. He states, “It raised some controversy, but it made a point.” This phrasing reflects the notion that young people are acting towards changing the future so they will not experience unequal pay when they enter the work force. This news report is beneficial because it spreads awareness in addition to allowing many to form their own opinions regarding the pay gap.
Allowing society to form their own opinions about the controversy surrounding the pay gap between men and women is an initial step that must be taken in order to create change. It will likely result in a cascade that stimulates those who believe the pay gap is unjust to continue to fight for equality. It is inspiring to see such young people standing up for what they believe is moral. The next steps in this process should involve including all minorities such as those of various racial groups and those who identify as transgender, queer or gender neutral in order to provide justice for all those within our society.
Carlisle, Randall. “Gender equality bake sale causes stir at Utah high school.” Good4Utah.com (2015). Web. 1 April 2015.
CNN Wire Staff. “Controversy erupts over Campus Republicans bake sale plans.” CNN News (2011). Web. 1 April 2015.
Faludi, Susan. Backlash: the undeclared war against American women. New York: Crown. 1991. Web
NA “Despite academic achievement, pay gaps likely continue between the races.” China Weekly News (2014): 279. Web. 25 March 2015.
Teresa, Lucy. Marketing Week. London: Centaur Communications Ltd. 2015. Text.