Photo and story by Megan Cole / Contributing Writer
The Middle Tennessee State University Alpha Omicron Pi sorority chapter hosted a free event, titled Scaling the Glass Ceiling, on Tuesday in the Student Union Ballroom to educate students and the community about fair wages, equality in the workplace and how to negotiate a salary.
There was a panel of speakers, which included MTSU faculty and other prominent figures in the community, that addressed the issues and spoke of their own life experiences in the workplace.
The panel included Barbara Scales, the director of the June Anderson Center, Dia Cirillo, the president of the American Association of University Women Murfreesboro, Ashley Duma, the Alpha Omicron Pi network director, Heather Brown, the director of Concrete and Construction Management at MTSU and Tennessee State Representative John Ray Clemmons.
Students were able to ask questions about equality in the workforce during the event through Twitter. The issues they addressed included things that affected both men and women.
Anna Flora, the chapter president of Alpha Omicron Pi, stated why this event was important for MTSU.
“For college students, this might not be something that will affect us just yet, but as soon as we graduate, pay gaps, fair wages and things like that will 100 percent affect all of us,” Flora said. “It’s important for us to be gaining the knowledge and the tools before we go out into the workforce so we can set ourselves up for success.
According to the National Partnership for Women and Families, an organization that promotes fairness in the workforce, Tennessee women who are employed full-time lose, on average, a combined total of nearly $7 billion every year due to the wage gap.
Clemmons provided more statistics on the wage gap for women in Tennessee.
“U.S. Census data released that, in 2016, women in Tennessee made 18 percent less than their male counterparts, (which is) about $7,652 less per year,” Clemmons said. “It’s even worse for African American women. They make 40 percent less, and Latina women make 45 percent less than their male counterparts.”
Claire Huskey, a member of Alpha Omicron Pi, expressed her thoughts on the event and how it impacted her.
“I think it’s so important for MTSU to have Scaling the Glass Ceiling,” Huskey said. “It really draws attention to problems that we’re having in the society today that people think are resolved, like equal pay in the work force. Both women and men need to be educated about this and fight for that in a society.”
Scales summed up the event and told the audience how to carry themselves in the workplace.
“Have courage and passion to negotiate your value and who you are,” she said.
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