Women fight back against economic inequality

Nicholas Strauss
Contributor
nstrauss@unca.edu

Playing the losing role in a system which unfairly rewards men becomes tiring for women in the workplace, an all-too-familiar experience for students and faculty at UNC Asheville.

“When I was younger, I was naive to think it wouldn’t happen to me,” said Deena Burris, an associate professor of management at UNCA. “I got a job in banking and that’s when I noticed women weren’t getting the same positions. They weren’t even getting promoted as often. The men were the ones getting ahead.”

Women who exude confidence can assert themselves in a male-dominated environment and are more likely to succeed, and as a mother of two girls, Burris said she feels glad more parents encourage their daughters to actively engage in the world around them.

“I teach my daughters to question everything, to take nothing at face value,” Burris said. “There are more and more parents empowering their girls, which is good because public schools aren’t doing enough.”

Research from Reach Advisors, a New York-based analytics firm, shows single, childless women in their 20s earning a full 8 percent more on average than their male counterparts, although this trend stops as they reach their 30s.

This contrasts with the 2016 national wage gap putting women’s pay 20 percent below men’s on average. The American Association of University Women estimates pay equity occurring by the year 2152.

OnTrack WNW, a nonprofit organization offering financial education to residents of Western North Carolina, educates women on how to better compete in the biased economy. The organization hosted their annual OnTrack Women and Money Conference on Oct. 22.

According to Celeste Collins, executive director at OnTrack WNC, the conference serves to provides women with resources and information dealing with money management and financial success.

“The issues at hand are exactly the reasons we host the conference,” Collins said. “Our Women’s Financial Empowerment Center and the Women and Money Conference serve to address the unique needs women face in dealing with financial challenges.”

Women working in other fields also make a difference. UNCA freshman Emma Berg, a youth counselor at Camp Kanata in Wake Forest, teaches her girl campers to act just as outgoing as the boys.

“Working at a summer camp, you tend to notice a difference in the way many boys act and how the girls act,” Berg said. “You have to teach little girls to be confident and show them that it’s OK to assert yourself. It allows them to be themselves.”

Despite its status as a national problem, the wage gap remains only a piece of the puzzle when it comes to the monetary issues facing women. A consumer phenomenon known as the “pink tax” affects the price of women’s products in retail markets, causing the items to cost more than men’s variants.

A 2015 study conducted by the New York City Department of Consumer Affairs shows women’s products costing 7 percent more on average than men’s equivalents, prompting women like Berg to forgo female-marketed products.

“My friends would just buy the men’s shaving cream,” Berg said. “It’s the same as women’s, just cheaper. Why pay more for no reason?”

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