A reflection written by Women’s Center intern, Narges Ershad
It has been more than a month since Oscars has aired, speeches have been given, and many reactions have been shared. But as Pay Equity Day is approaching, I have been thinking a lot about that night, especially Patricia Arquette’s Best Support Actress acceptance speech. In her speech she talked about the gender pay gap, which is a reference to the fact that mostly men get paid more than women for holding the same position at work.
Since I was a kid, watching Oscars was one of my favorite days of the year. Until few years ago I wouldn’t understand the content fully due to language barriers, but I was always amazed by the pretty dresses, exciting faces of the people, the lights, amazing videography, and that huge and amazing stage. Later on I was able to understand the content fully and it was then when I realized Oscars is more than a fancy award ceremony to recognize the achievements within the film industry. The Oscars can also be about social change, a place to raise awareness regarding social issues, a stage for critical thinking and reading between the lines.
I was excited as always with the 2015 Oscars and made sure I had time to travel back to my childhood by watching the ceremony. But something was different in the 2015 Oscars, that made me love this ceremony even more, as well as also think more critically about it. Many amazing speeches were given regarding social issues and problems that we are dealing with in the world, and most importantly in United States of America. Many moving speeches and performances were given that night, like John Legend and Common’s Glory from the movie Selma.
In my opinion Patricia Arquette speech was a great move, which took a lot of attention toward it in social media right after she left the stage. One part of her speech stated that “It’s our time to have wage equality once and for all, and equal rights for women in the United States of America.” I personally really appreciated her speech and her using her fame to give gender pay gap a platform at an elite event. As an individual who works and cares about the gender pay gap, I really liked the fact that now more people who might have not known about the issue now know. Perhaps from knowing more about the issue these individuals will be able to think about it more in depth or even make strides to changing the situation for the better.
Throughout much of the evening, our events of Critical Social Justice 2015 came to mind. Most especially, I was reminded by what they keynote speaker, Franchesca Ramsey, talked about in her keynote titled “Your Powerful Online Voice: Social Media for Social Change.” The Oscars were taking place in a room, but the conversations were also happening in our living rooms and entering various social media platforms. Social media became a tool for change and started many needed, important, and critical conversations. People used their “online voices” via social media, especially Twitter, to bring social change to talk about issues that famous people on stage were talking about in real time. This is where people used their voices to bring light to the speeches, read between the lines, and start a conversation about needed social change. For example many different readings, understanding, and reactions were seen on social media platforms after Patricia Arquette’s speech. People were able to take it in, analyze it, and and talk about it. Some people completely agreed with her, some people wished she would have talked about other communities as well, some people argued that her speech was gender binary, some people liked the specific points that she had. The conversation didn’t end when the Oscars did but they had only just begun. As we are approaching Pay Equity Day I think is important to take a moment, educate ourselves about this issue and see what we can do close the gap.
In the past few years Women Involved in Learning and Leadership (WILL) at UMBC have hosted a Pay Equity Bake Sale, to start the conversation on campus. This bake sale is a great start to many critical conversations. Each person who visits the table and would like to purchase a bake good is asked to self identify based on the provided chart , to see how much they need to pay and they can see how much other individuals are going to pay. In other words these prices are link to the gender pay gap that exists in united states. This is a way to get people thinking, to see how much they are getting paid compared to others. Also we understand that the provided chart is gender binary, and is fully accurate but this suggests that more research and thinking is needed in this area.
Moreover one of the reasons for this wage gap, is that mostly women start working with a lower salary compare to men, therefore it is important to learn how to start smart from the beginning. WILL with the help of GWST department, Women’s Center,and the Honors College is providing UMBC students with a workshop called $tart $mart. As someone who has participated at this workshop I highly recommend it. I learned how to negotiate for my salary and ask to receive what I am worth. This workshop will be held on April 15th. Please visit this link for more information and registration as the space is limited.
Also I encourage you all to visit WILL table Monday April 6th from 11:00AM-2:00PM. Visit this link for more information.