Dr. Wanda Costen talks about balance, “women’s work” and the gender pay gap

March 13, 2019 | Business, Society

March is a month to celebrate gender equality and equity, with International Women’s Day on March 8, followed by MacEwan’s Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) Week from March 18 to 22. It’s also a time to consider the hurdles that still exist for women in both the public and private sphere, says Dr. Wanda Costen, dean of MacEwan University’s School of Business.

The accomplished researcher addressed a crowd at Edmonton’s City Hall on March 8 as the Women’s Initiative keynote speaker, sharing the ways her research and insight related to the theme of “Balance for the Better.” She spoke about the division of labour in the home, the idea that “women’s work” – the gendered notion of domestic labour (primarily housekeeping and child care) – is still perceived as having less value.

“I discussed the importance of not leaning in and the need to negotiate both inside and outside the home,” says Wanda. “Women must define balance for themselves, and be aware that this definition will change over their lifetimes.”

Having a voice at this unique moment in history, and contributing to ongoing discussions, is a distinct privilege.
—Dr. Wanda Costen

Wanda is taking the podium again on March 21 as MacEwan marks EDI Week, this time looking at sociological explanations for the gender pay gap supported by data specific to Alberta and Canada. Although Canada is among the most progressive countries in the world, she says, gender norms haven’t changed as much as we might think.

“Women still face a glass ceiling, in some areas a double-paned glass ceiling when it comes to senior leadership positions,” she says. “For women who also happen to be ethnic minorities and visible minorities, there is a ‘double whammy’ whereby our race and ethnicity adds a layer of inequality that doesn’t exist for white women.”

Moving forward begins with pointing out just how prevalent this inequality, and inequity is.

“Only by being willing to have these challenging conversations can we create progress,” she says. “Having a voice at this unique moment in history, and contributing to ongoing discussions, is a distinct privilege.”

OHRDE Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Week feature image with dates

EDI Week 2019

Gender-based pay inequity, turban and hijab awareness, unconscious bias and Indigenous drumming. These are just some of the topics you’ll learn about or events you can participate in during Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Week.


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