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University Of Essex Feminist Society Accused Of Discrimination Over Gender Pay Gap Bake Sale

The group charged women 18p less than men for cakes.

07/03/2017 14:18 | Updated 07 March 2017

A university feminism society has been accused of discrimination after it charged men more for cakes at a bake sale to highlight the gender pay gap

An official complaint was made about the group at the University of Essex after they asked women and non-binary people for 82p per baked good, while charging male students £1. 

But president of the University of Essex Feminist Society, Vanja Pederson, has dismissed the claims as “ironic”. 

“We found it a bit funny that people were getting so upset, because we were trying to make the point that it [the gender pay gap] is unfair,” she said.  

University of Essex Womens Network
The feminist society at the University of Essex faced criticism over its gender gap bake sale 

“We were hoping to get students involved in the discussion because it is a very important discourse,” women’s officer Sarah Wagner added. 

While the society say that the reaction to the pricing was mostly positive, they received criticism on Facebook, with one person asking: “Is this a joke?” 

Social media user Orion Rhodes accused the society of hypocrisy, suggesting that it is men who are actually discriminated against by society. 

He wrote: “Millions of men were FORCED to die for our country for simply being male (also in many countries men are still forced into the military) while women got to stay at home, but women get cheaper cakes because they’re treated ‘unfairly’?” 

Another student added: “What about people of non-binary genders? Really inconsiderate.”   

Edmund Sumner/VIEW via Getty Images
Essex University student union is investigating the claims 

But many have come to the defence of the group. A woman named Francesca Jones wrote on Facebook: “Can’t believe it hit the news for basically achieving its aim and highlighting the discrimination in working environments.” 

Katherine Cresswell added: “It’s good that it has hit the news to help highlight the issue. Perhaps if more places did this more would be done to eradicate the pay gap.” 

The society was attempting to raise money for the Young Women’s Trust, which supports 16 to 30-year-olds living in poverty. 

CEO of the organisation, Dr Carole Easton, told The Huffington Post UK: “Gender pay gap bake sales aim to highlight the unfairness of the gender pay gap, which sees women earning 82p for every pound a man earns, and raise vital funds for Young Women’s Trust as it supports young women into work.

She continued: “Having a suggested donation of 82p for women and £1 for men can highlight the serious inequality in women’s pay packets.

“At the rate the gender pay gap is closing, today’s young women will be retired before equal pay becomes a reality.” 

A spokesperson from the University of Essex said: “We are working with the student union to respond to this complaint in line with our duties under the Equality Act 2010.

“The university is recognised nationally for the action it is taking on the gender pay gap and last year it became the first university in the UK to close the pay gap for female professors.”

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