Graduating to a Pay Gap? Not on Their Watch

August 09, 2013

Teams of professors and students at Ithaca College, Towson University, and Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts have put their 2012–13 AAUW Campus Action Project (CAP) grants to good use. Inspired by AAUW’s Graduating to a Pay Gap research report, each team created a campus-wide campaign to educate their community about the gender wage gap.

We recently spoke with Michele Lenhart, director of student leadership and involvement at Ithaca College; Marie Lilly, associate director of women’s resources at Towson University; and Kayla Degnan, a junior majoring in both English and communications at Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts, about their Campus Action Projects.

Q: Why did your institution apply for a CAP grant?

Lilly: Career development is one of the most important things we can do for our students, but we have so many different topics we want to address with our female students that it’s hard to secure funding and time to cover all of them. The CAP grant allowed us to address this incredibly important issue in a gender-specific context.

Q: Nearly 700 students benefited from the grant project; what do you think made it successful?

Lilly: We were successful because of our incredible campus and the enthusiasm of the Division of Student Affairs staff. The career center put so much work into making the program successful, and staff at the division encouraged students to learn more and wore T-shirts and buttons. Also, our student groups really loved the topic and were happy to learn more and get involved.

Q: What impact do you think the CAP grant left on your campus?

Lilly: I think it got people talking and dispelled myths that gender inequity in the workplace has been eliminated. I think it also got female students thinking about career development in a gender-specific and empowering way. It was a great way to connect the social justice work we focus on in the Center for Student Diversity with real-life skills.

Q: How did you find your CAP team?

Degnan: I initially became involved in the Campus Action Project as a photographer. What I didn’t know was how much knowledge I would gain from being a part of the team.

Q: What were the biggest takeaways from your team’s leadership series?

Degnan: Students took so much knowledge away from the series. There were facts about pay equity and the long-term differences in salary that many students were not aware of. The sessions were very informative and overall a huge success.

Honestly, the $tart $mart salary negotiation workshop was my favorite part of the series. I learned about the long-term effects of pay differences between men and women. Learning how to negotiate an appropriate salary is something that I never would have thought to do. I also learned how to budget. The websites and info packets will be very helpful when the time comes to look for a job.

A black silloutte of a business woman on a purple background with the words TIA Talks.

Ithaca College’s promotional flyer for their Teach, Initiate, Advocate! Talks inspired by TED talks.

Q: At Ithaca College, you ran a talk-style series: Teach, Initiate, Advocate (TIA)! Talks. What was the advantage of that format?

Lenhart: Having a video of the workshops allows us to replay those seminars for people who could not attend, so that more students benefit from the information. This way, the speakers only need to present once and our college community can host multiple viewings to share the information.

Q: What were some of the highlights from the TIA Talks dinner?

Lenhart: The best pieces of the TIA dinner were the opportunity for students to sit with professional women and talk about salary negotiation stories and get advice over a nice meal, showing clips from the TIA talks — it was the first time they were revealed! And having [Ithaca] President Emerita Peggy Williams speak and inspire women to get involved in organizations like AAUW.

Q: How will the videos be used in the coming years?

Lenhart: We will offer online leadership development workshops that incorporate the videos, and we’ll host sessions where we play the entire video (or just a few clips) to stimulate discussions on these important topics.

This post was written by AAUW College/University Relationships intern Mabinty Quarshie.

AAUW Intern By:   |   August 09, 2013