QU highlights salary negotiation to kick off Women’s History Month

Lily Philipczak, Staff Writer

To celebrate Women’s History Month, Quinnipiac University’s Department of Cultural and Global Engagement held an inclusive conversation on gender equity and inclusion on March 8. 

Students and faculty shared their experiences in a conversation about gender bias, gender relations and privilege. 

Daymyen Tyler Layne, director of multicultural education and training, began the conversation by asking attendants to consider their first thoughts about gender inequity. Several audience members said their experiences ranged from seeing their mothers in the workforce, parenting differences between their siblings and playing sports at a young age. 

Emma Kogel

Layne’s presentation defined gender as a range of characteristics pertaining to femininity, masculinity and differentiation that may include sex-based social structures and gender identity. Likewise, Layne defined sex as a trait that determines an individual’s reproductive function and the type of gametes produced by an organism defines its sex. 

Layne said sex “gives us a further definition of what binary is, but as we know, we need to expand that definition as we see fit today.”

Gender relations are the ways in which culture and society defines rights, responsibilities, and those boundaries of men and women in relation to one another, according to Layne’s presentation. 

Meanwhile, Layne defined bias as prejudice in favor of or against one thing, person, or group compared with another, usually in a way considered to be unfair. Privilege is a special right, advantage, or immunity granted or available only to a particular person or group. 

In the context of Western culture, bias explicitly or implicity promotes gender roles that have changed over time. Systemic privilege exists when people benefit from that which disadvantages others. 

The landscape of gender inequity and the impact on negotiating salaries was the primary focus of the discussion.

According to Layne’s presentation, gender equity refers to the fairness of treatment for men and women, according to their respective means. This may include equal treatment or treatment that is different, but considered equivalent in terms of rights, benefits, obligations and opportunities. 

“A lot of the students in the room are about to move out into the real world with real salaries,” Layne said. “There are systems at play right now that aren’t necessarily equal. So we need to understand what that means for us in ways to affect change.”

Thirty-two percent of women did not try to negotiate pay with their employer due to the fear of being denied or losing their job, according to a survey conducted by Glassdoor Economic Research

Kafui Kouakou, assistant vice president for career development and experiential learning, shared a personal story about encouraging his friend to negotiate their salary. 

“I think culturally speaking, we are not trained to negotiate because there is a fear that was instilled in us that even if you tried you might just end up losing the whole thing,” Kouakou said. “So people just say, ‘You know what, I’m happy with what I have.’” 

Julia Fullick-Jagiela, an associate professor of management and the chair of management, recommended an online course from the American Association of University Women called Work Smart & Start Smart: Salary Negotiation

“System changes need to be made. ‘Fixing women’ isn’t the solution here,” Fullick-Jagiela wrote in a statement to the Chronicle. “Organizations are responsible for addressing current inequities in their compensation systems.” 

Emphasizing the importance of looking at intersectional pay-gap data and educating minority groups on negotiating salaries, Fullick pointed to the lack of affordable childcare and federally mandated paid leave as driving forces behind wage inequality.

“Who gets tapped for leadership roles, promotions, asked to sit on boards, who gets to negotiate salary and benefits versus who is penalized for asking, who has the bulk of childcare and domestic responsibilities, those are all things that need to be addressed if we are going to ever achieve gender parity in the United States,” Fullick-Jagiela wrote.

Women of color experience wider pay gaps compared to white women. Among full-time workers in 2020, Black and Latina women made 64 cents and 57 cents on the dollar as compared to their non-Hispanic white male counterparts, according to the American Association University of Women.

The majority of the attendants were women. When asked how they felt about a female-dominated audience, several students said they were not surprised. 

“For the men that were here, I definitely think that this gave them a little bit of a perspective,” said Shannon Connolly, a first-year occupational therapy major. “It should be normalized that they can come to something like this.”

Lauren Mecca, a sophomore health science studies major, said she thought the event was enlightening and eye opening. 

“I think if a guy is more educated, he will be able to educate other men and it will be more empowering for them,” Mecca said. “I definitely think that this was really important and good to think about when we have to graduate college and deal with this head on and use this to help us in the future.”