The Oxford University College Union held a bake sale and women’s non-working lunch, to raise awareness of the pay gap within the university.

Due to the gender wage discrepancies at the university, from today onwards women in the university are ‘effectively unpaid’ until the end of the year. 

University staff, students and the public were invited to engage in discussion on the gender pay gap and learn more about the issue at the University.

The bake sale charged women 13.7% less than men, to symbolise the 13.7% gender pay gap faced by staff.

Oxford’s median gender pay gap is comparable to the national average which is estimated at 17.9%.

However, there is significant variation between colleges, with the gap reaching 24.3% at New College. 

Speaking to Cherwell, a spokesperson for the event, Laura Paterson, emphasised the need for dialogue and “more conversation” around the pay gap at Oxford saying that “the increased casualisation of academic work disproportionately targets women’”.

She also noted that more women than men are working additional hours without pay. 

She emphasised that the students are “wonderful” supporters of pay equality adding that it is rather University hiring policy that is at fault and more women are needed in senior roles. 

When asked, whether the bake sale’s premise that men pay more than women for the same product was reductive of such a complex issue, she replied that the price difference was meant to be “symbolic” of the disadvantage most women face, and that it was intended partly as an homage to previous feminist organisations which had used the same strategy to highlight the unfair treatment of women

The UCU is engaging in continuing collaboration with Oxford to combat the gender pay gap.

The university has committed to increasing the proportion of female professors every year aiming for 30% representation by 2020. 

It is also aiming for around a third of University leadership roles to be held by women. 

Speaking to Cherwell, a lecturer, Alejandra Costa, emphasised the need for increased openness about pay grades for men and women, saying that the issue needed to be discussed at greater length in university committees.

Ms Costa also pointed to the need to raise greater awareness, commenting that many of her students were “shocked” to discover the extent of the pay gap at the university. 

She suggested that students wanting to show their support for the union could wear UCU badges. 

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