A new report by the Labour Market Information Council (LMIC) and the Education Policy Research Initiative (EPRI) has found that the gender pay gap starts right out of university, with women making an average of $5,700, or 12 per cent, less than men one year after graduation. These results build upon the already robust research on gender discrimination and are reflective of the fact that on average, women make 87 cents on the dollar that men make hourly. The issue is even worse for women with disabilities or from minority groups.

In light of the recent report, the Career Centre at UTM has unveiled a new series of workshops aimed at giving female students strategies to close the pay gap. The series, titled, “Be A Man!”, is a collaboration between the Career Centre and the Drama department, and includes three workshops focusing on three different strategies that will help women during the hiring process and beyond.

When asked about the inspiration behind the theme of the workshop series, a representative for the Career Centre had this to say: “The Career Centre prides itself on basing all of its workshops on career education and employment. For these new workshops, we consulted the experiences of a very famous figure that has had extensive first-hand experience with being the only female in a male-dominated field, the legendary Fa Mulan.”

The first workshop, named “From Jessica to John,” takes students through the process of how to change their name to one that will help them in their job search. Students are instructed to pick gender-neutral or masculine names as research has shown that resumes with male names are rated more favorably and given better offers. Students of colour are also encouraged to pick white-sounding male names to maximize the benefit of this strategy.

The second workshop is called “How to Look Effortlessly Masculine,” and focuses on helping female students go beyond changing their names, to the more impactful change of altering their appearance. The workshop presents masculine styles for women to emulate, such as the business staple of the “suit.” For casual Fridays, why not try on the black hoodie, a black t-shirt, a basketball jersey, or a floral button up? However, organizers of the workshop do warn that this strategy is difficult to execute correctly since employers do not look favorably on those who seem to deviate from the heteronormative golden standard.

The final workshop in the series shifts the focus from superficial change to a deeper, internal transformation. Titled, “Putting the Man in Woman,” the aim of this workshop is to change the attitude women have when going out into the world. Participants are taken through various exercises that are meant to get them into the headspace of a confident, assertive, strong man. Some exercises include: “The Subway Spread,” “The Playboy Lie Around,” and the popular “Enlightenment Tournament,” where participants are awarded points for the number of times they successfully interrupt another student whose talking about a topic, such as their field of study, so as to better explain it to them.

Organizers are hoping that the series will help give female students the tools and confidence they need to smash the glass ceiling by being a part of the group who put it there.

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