When you think of your typical bake sale at a high school, chocolate chip cookies, brownies, and cupcakes usually come to mind. Most people are more than happy to pay for the homemade goods with proceeds going to a worthy cause. Now imagine you went on a bake sale that charged you based on your gender?
We sat down with Brooke and Amelia, students at William Aberhart High School, to chat about an idea they came up with in their Social Studies class for a project that encouraged students to make a statement and impact in their community. They chose the topic of gender inequality because the wage gap between men and women for the same job was quite close to them. These teens are at an age where many students make decisions about their career paths. While doing their research they found shocking statistics. Did you know women would have to work an additional 14 years compared to their male counterparts in order to earn the same wage?
Brooke and Amelia decided to organize a bake sale and sold cookies based on the wage gap. Alberta women working full-time, full-year are on average making $31,100 less than their male colleagues each year – or about 69 cents for every dollar that men earn. The girls applied the same ratio to their baked goods’ prices and tied a ribbon to each bag with a statistics about wage inequalities to raise awareness. The sale was met with mixed reviews. It was no surprise that their male counterparts felt they were being treated unfairly; one male student even made a complaint to the principal! What was surprising was the principal’s response to these complaints; he was incredibly supportive of the social experiment and used it as an opportunity to discuss the social issues women are facing with the students. This sparked a lot of conversation with their female classmates; some had never even considered there would be a difference in their wages compared to males.
Even though they encountered some criticism, Brooke and Amelia were very appreciative of the support of their teachers and fellow students. The girls raised $68 at the sale, which was matched by their families and generously donated to the Women’s Centre. Stories like Brooke and Amelia’s fill us with a hope for future generations who are working for change in their communities. We’ll continue to cheer them on in their work to make statements and have an impact in their community.
If you know a teen girl who wants to make change in her community, tell her to join Girl Up! This is a leadership program that brings girls together to discuss the social issues in their communities and how they can create positive change. If interested, contact Sarah at firstname.lastname@example.org.