Women complete WAGE workshop
On Oct. 17, approximately 20 women from the College attended the Women Are Getting Even (WAGE) Project’s $tart $mart workshop. The WAGE Project is a national organization dedicated to ending discrimination against women in the workplace and, more specifically, ensuring that women and men are paid equally.
The WAGE Project’s National Director of Campus and Community Initiatives Annie Houle led the workshop. Last spring, Houle happened to sit next to Dana Roberts ’12 on a flight headed to California. In conversation, she mentioned the WAGE Project to Roberts, and the two exchanged information in the hopes that Houle could bring the workshop to the College. Roberts facilitated contact between Houle and Assistant Director of the Career Center Leslie Kinglsey. Kingsley was excited at the opportunity to host the workshop at the College and spent over two months planning the event.
Houle began the workshop by presenting some alarming statistics. She explained that for every dollar a man earns, a woman earns 77 cents. African American women and Latina women earn even less: African American women earn 67 cents and Latina women earn only 57 cents for every dollar a man earns. Additionally, women college graduates will earn between one and two million dollars less than the men graduating next to them with the same college degree.
In the workshop, Houle taught students through hands-on activities, such as role-playing, how to negotiate salaries and benefit packages. Students divided into small groups and one person pretended to be an employer and the other pretended to be a job candidate. “This taught students not only how to negotiate a salary and benefit package, but it also showed them how to accept a job and how to prepare for that first year out of college,” Kingsley said.
Students who attended responded positively to the workshop. “For me, the most striking part about the gender gap is that many of the problems of salary disparity can be avoided if women just speak up,” Laura Maloney ’12 said. “This workshop really reinforced for me that it is important to be confident in my qualifications.”
Kingsley hopes that these workshops will continue. However, she hopes to expand the workshop to include men and women. “We know that students here are really busy, but this is not another traditional workshop. You really get a deeper understanding that this is a prominent issue in today’s economy,” she said.
Additionally, Kingsley expressed that she hopes to educate men so that they can be allies for women in this area. “We don’t want to out male students or to make them feel bad. We want to show them how they can be a [agent of change],” she added.
Ideally, the workshop would be offered several times a semester. All five members of the Career Center team have been trained to lead $tart $mart workshops. Kingsley hopes that the Career Center can offer a number of workshops specific to different subject areas, whether specific to majors or prospective career fields. However, she emphasized that she would like to bring Houle back at least once a semester, because “she is just so great at connecting with college girls.” Roberts echoed, “I really hope that Annie can come back to campus next year and spread this important message.”
In fact, Houle said that she received at least eight thank you notes from women who attended the workshop on the Hill. “This speaks really highly of the Colby community, and it is something everyone should be proud of,” Kingsley said.
Kingsley hopes that students from all class years will take advantage of the opportunity to attend this eye-opening workshop in the future. “Our motto at the Career Center is ‘inspired success.’ We want to make sure that everyone has the same chance at post-graduate success,” she said.