Editor’s Note: We hit the West Mall on Thursday and asked students whether they thought Texas had a problem with equal pay. Below are some of the responses, which you can also watch on video here.
Sandra Bissett, senior software developer and analyst at UT
Daily Texan: Do you think that Texas has a problem of equal pay, just in terms of women being paid less than men for the same work?
Sandra Bissett: Yeah, I think society in general has a problem with it. I’m sure Texas does.
DT: Do you have any ideas for a solution?
SB: Honestly, I mean I think it is a very complicated problem. It’s probably beyond the scope of a UT staff member to solve. But I think for opening the discussion and talking about it and recognizing it as something that is important is a pretty big deal.
DT: Do you have any thoughts on the rhetoric that has been exchanged on the campaign trail recently? Wendy Davis has accused Greg Abbott of paying women who work in his office less than men for the same work. Have you heard about that at all?
SB: I have. And I think it’s an important thing to bring up. I think what makes Wendy Davis kind of an exciting candidate is that she’s talking about things that haven’t been brought up in politics in Texas for a while. So it’s definitely something I hope to hear more about.
Dominique Egger, psychology senior
Daily Texan: Do you think Texas has a problem with equal pay, in terms of women being paid less than men for the same the job?
Dominique Egger: Yeah, I definitely would agree. I think there is definitely more that goes into it than that because you still have the tendency for women to go on maternity leave, so they are not there as much as the guys on average so maybe they don’t get the promotions because they’re not there.
But I still think that it’s a huge problem across the country and specifically in conservative states where you have this glass ceiling and it’s really hard for women to break that glass ceiling just because there are certain stereotypes. I don’t think people try to maybe undermine women anymore. But I think that a lot of times what ends up happening is that they have certain stereotypes they don’t realize they have and so then they end up choosing the guy instead of the girl. And then the girl doesn’t get as much pay.
DT: Do you have any ideas about how we could fix this problem?
DE: I think that just making people more aware about the stereotypes. Actively trying to change [stereotyping] yourself and making people more aware of these stereotypes that they have that they don’t realize that they have, I think that’s the easiest way to change it.
Jennifer Caplan, psychology sophomore
Daily Texan: Do you think it is a problem in Texas — women being paid less than men?
Jennifer Caplan: I wish I was more educated on who was paid more and the laws and all that, but if women are paid less than men, that’s not fair. We do the same job. Everyone should get paid equal. We’re in 2014.
DT: In the governor’s race happening right now, Wendy Davis has essentially accused Greg Abbot of paying women who work in his office less than men. Have you heard about that?
JC: I think it’s a little slimy to go and shoot down other opponents, but if it is true, it definitely needs to be looked into and brought into the public.
Wen Yeng, electrical engineering freshman
Daily Texan: Do you think Texas has a problem with equal pay in terms of women being paid less than men?
Wen Yeng: Yes, but it’s not exactly obvious because it’s sort of like an institutionalized thing, and that’s something that’s sort of hard. You have to change people’s mindsets. And a lot of people don’t necessarily realize the problem because when men are in positions of power, or when a man’s your boss and you are a woman, it’s very hard for you to raise concerns about your pay. And in general a lot of men don’t realize that there is a problem with equal pay or equal rights even in the workplace.
DT: So how do we go about changing people’s mindsets or getting this issue on people’s minds?
WY: That’s something that’s better done earlier in places like college campuses because when people are in their 30s or 40s, they’re much more reluctant to change and be open in general about changing their world views. It might be better for companies to hold a few talks about this issue, but it has to be done carefully because a lot of men wouldn’t react positively to such things.
Abhijit Sreerama, computer science
Abhijit Sreerama: I think in certain areas of Texas [equal pay] is a larger problem than it is in other areas. Studies have shown that areas in larger, metropolitan areas like Houston, Dallas or even Austin or San Antonio, the difference in pay is not as bad as it would be elsewhere, like in smaller cities like Laredo or Amarillo, Lubbock, stuff like that….
Daily Texan: Do you have any ideas about what we could do to address this problem?
AS: I think some of it has to do with culture, right? And it’s something that’s not just limited to Texas or the United States. I think it’s something that’s worldwide, and it definitely is a problem though. It’s something that needs to be addressed. If two people are doing equal work, at equal effort and equal levels, then it doesn’t make any sense for one person to be paid $.70 on the dollar.