The Multicultural Center hosted the first installation of its Real Talk Series, “Closing the Gap: Challenging Gender and Racial Inequality in the Workplace,” on Feb. 6.
Scott Grant, ’16, a graduate assistant in the Multicultural Affairs Office, said the discussion was the first of nine M-Room talks to be held this semester.
Emily Prest, ’21, who led the discussion, said the Real Talk Series aims to spark much-needed conversation about different issues in society and prompt participants with topics that are rarely mentioned in everyday conversation.
During the Feb. 6 discussion, Prest shared videos and facts regarding race and gender inequality in the workplace. She invited the students and faculty in attendance to engage in conversation and ask questions about the material she presented.
Prest facilitated the discussion and posed questions for the attendees to answer in small groups. The groups then shared their conclusions with the entire group.
This topic of gender and racial inequality in the workplace is particularly important to Prest.
“Being female and Filipino and Italian, I am a part of the minority,” Prest said. “I think it is important that employees have equal opportunity in the workplace, especially if they are doing the same amount of work as their coworkers.”
Prest said she would never want her race or gender to factor into her salary, and thinks there needs to be more discussion on how to combat workplace inequality.
During the group discussion, many of the participants said they were aware of the wage gap, but not of the other issues women face in the work force.
“I learned that although women are making less than men in the workforce, they are steadily making upward progress in terms of title, power and also pay,” Julius Wibisono, ’20, said.
Wibisono works for the Office of Multicultural Affairs. He will lead a series discussion, “The White Savior: A Hero or a Phony,” on Feb. 20.
“I think participants left with a bit more knowledge about gender and racial inequality than they first came with, which was one of my main goals for the talk,” Prest said. “I also thought the talk was effective in that participants were able to vocalize their opinions and hear what other people had to say about gender and racial income inequality.”
Wibisono thought the presentation was effective, as well. He said opening discussion about particular topics allows more people to become educated and aware of issues.
Grant also thought the talk on Tuesday was successful, but he expected more people to attend.
“I think we expected more people to show up, but this was the first event and I expect the numbers to grow over time,” Grant said.
For future conversations, Grant said he is going to further support the students leading the discussion and develop a better marketing strategy to increase attendance.