Half a million dollars is a lot of money to have, but a painful sum to lose.
As a part of the spring 2013 Center for the Study of Social Justice colloquium series, Becky Jacobs, a professor in the College of Law, said the average woman loses around $500,000 by failing to negotiate for her salary.

Jacobs lead a panel in McClung Tower on Wednesday with three other distinguished women in order to reveal the relationship between women and social justice in the business world. Alongside Jacobs, the panel consisted of Micheline van Riemsdijk, an assistant professor in geography; Tracie Woidtke, an associate professor in finance; and Joan Heminway, a law professor.

The panel members discussed challenging elements of women in the workforce, saying that although women make up a large number in the business world, many still face the challenge of negotiating their salaries.

"I want people to understand that the law is both impacted by and impacts gender," Heminway said, who also coordinated the event. "The panel involved a lot more than that, having someone from geography and the finance department gives the subject a much more well-rounded approach."

The issue of salary gaps has reached the point that some women would have to work 12 years beyond their male counterparts to make up the difference, the panelists said. Women have also been affected by the reversal of gender dynamics in migration. Systems were not in place to accept families with females as primary financial supporters, causing both husbands and wives to accept jobs beneath their skill level.

For Briana Flanagan, a sophomore in global studies, the lecture was encouraging yet challenging.

"(Women) are progressing, but it's slow," Flanagan said. "It shows you that even though there's been progress, there's still a lot ... I'm still curious as to what more do we need to do to progress."

Binary male and female issues have expanded to diversity in general, gaining from other social groups' contrasting perspectives. The speakers emphasized that social justice is contextual and it is important to evaluate the different experiences of individuals as well as situational factors that prevent objectivity.

While listening to the lecture, Flanagan said she thought van Riemsdijk's demonstration of difficulties faced by Polish nurses was an effective illustration of the challenge of gender dynamics. She said it brought the issue of women's equality into a global discussion.

Heminway indicated the importance of how women and social justice affect factors within everyone's lives.

"I wanted to make sure we made business a part of this discussion," she said. "It often focuses on the social life, but people forget that economy and politics are a large part of that. It would be nice to bring those (elements) together because that was really in my interests."