The Daily Tar Heel

Serving the students and the University community since 1893

Friday June 24th

Opinion: 'Ring before spring' can’t fix the gender wage gap

The phrase “ring before spring” describes the long-held belief that women should be engaged by the spring of their senior year to ensure their lifestyle post-graduation. While we mostly have moved on from the days of MRS degrees, many still view college as a way to snag a partner.

And there’s nothing wrong with that, so long as both partners get the most out of their college career otherwise. But “ring before spring” frames the rest of a couple’s life together, often to the woman’s detriment.

As the wedding industrial complex continues to grow, wedding planning requires more money and more work. That work often falls on the women in heterosexual relationships.

In the context of “ring before spring,” that means that the last semester of a woman’s undergraduate degree and several months afterward are spent planning a wedding rather than finding a job.

Too often, her partner gets priority in finding a job and choosing a city for his career rather than hers.

These choices, often made unconsciously, contribute to the gender pay gap. When women are pushed into what is deemed “women’s work”— even something as “exciting” as planning a wedding — they fall behind at work and in school.

If we want to really work on the pay gap and equality in general, we need to critically engage with social constructions that affect gender roles, like “ring before spring.”

So, of course, please say yes if you really want to! But let’s by no means accept pressure for couples to commit based on a semester schedule, and let’s be mindful of how this unstated social pressure can disproportionately affect women.


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