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Wednesday, October 4, 2023


Preparing soon-to-be graduates for competitive job market

Students will have the opportunity to experience one of many workshops, which are aimed at college-aged women, that have sprung up in the nation to prepare soon-to-be graduates for the competitive job market.

Entitled “$tart $mart,” the workshop is a collaborative project put on by the Women’s Resource Center, Friends of Women’s Studies and the Women’s Gender and Sexuality Studies. The workshop is aimed to help women at UH develop the skills that are necessary to navigate in the business world and negotiate their salaries.

“We have never had this workshop before,” said Beverly McPhail, WRC director. “Elizabeth Gregory, director of the WGSS program and I read about the workshop being done across the nation in an article in The New York Times. We thought it would be great to bring the workshop to UH. We have an outside trainer with the American Association of University Women Wage Project coming in, but there will also be a small contingent of us being trained. We will be able to provide the training multiple times at a future date.”

The speaker and trainer at the UH worksop will be Annie Houle from the AAUW Wage Project.

Houle will be speaking about three key points: understanding the gender wage gap, learning about negotiating salary and a short role-play to practice the skills being taught.

“Knowing there is a wage gap is one thing, actively learning how to advocate for yourself to get the starting salary you deserve is another,” McPhail said. “Workshop participants will also learn how to develop a bare bones budget and how to research what average compensation is for a given position.”

Malkia Hutchinson, WRC program coordinator, says she is on board with the message this workshop is giving out, especially since vast amounts of research show that the wage gap between genders is severe and real. On average, women earn 77 cents to every dollar a man makes.

This statistic varies when race is taken into account. African-American women earn 69 cents for every dollar earned by a man and Latinas earn only 57 cents for each dollar earned by a man.

“The research shows gender differences in negotiations, with men more likely than women to negotiate for their salaries,” McPhail said. “College can be a sheltered, safe place for women and therefore, many women are unprepared for some gender inequities that they might face in the workplace.”

Hutchinson said the information the workshop will provide women with is essential knowledge that will “equip women” with the skills to successfully negotiate salaries.

“As a woman, you don’t want to be seen as difficult. When offered a position, you’re grateful,” Hutchinson said. “I could have commanded a lot more at previous positions (but didn’t).”

The workshop is free and focused at the female demographic of the University, but men are also welcome to attend.

“It may be helpful for men to see what their female counterparts face in the workforce. Some men will be managers some day and maybe they can be the ones to make wages more equitable for women,” McPhail said. “Many men want women to earn a fair wage since in heterosexual, dual-wage earning families, the more the woman makes, the more the family benefits.”

Hutchinson said women in leadership positions are severely lacking, which is worrisome given the amount of women in the labor force.

“While it is important for all people to have these skill sets, there is a time and a place for men,” Hutchinson said. “There is nothing threatening about women being empowered in a separate space.”

The workshop to take place 9 a.m. Friday in Room 210 of Agnes Arnold Hall.

As the sign on the glass door of the WRC says, “Men of quality are not threatened by women of equality.”

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