If Sally and Nick host a lemonade stand and Nick earns $1.00 and Sally earns $.80, what percentage of Nick's salary does Sally make? Eh, forget the percentages, we all know Sally gets hosed in this deal. As women, we know it because we live it. But maybe this elementary-level math problem is a good place to start. As one writer at Forbes worries, does the wage gap actually start as early as kindergarten?
Conducting an informal survey of her daughter's kindergarten class, Samantha Ettus saw that by the tender age of five or six, little girls were already less likely to aspire to high-paying careers than little boys. When asked what they wanted to be when they grew up, 10 percent of the little boys wanted to be President, while none of the little girls did. Several boys wanted to be engineers, but none of the girls aimed for this lucrative, science-based career. So, what did the little girls want to be when they grew up? Half of them wanted to be artists -- a career usually preceded by the word "starving," which is as good of an indication as any about potential income.
It's not news that women earn less than men. It's also not news that there are fewer women than men working in math and science-based fields. What can we, as parents, do to change that? What can we do to encourage our little girls to aim high and learn to love math?
Are the seeds of the wage gap planted as early as kindergarten? Or, is that just too early to tell? After all, Ettus doesn't mention how many of the kids said they wanted to be a princess or Superman when they grow up. And, when you think about it, a princess would definitely out-earn Clark Kent, who moonlighted as a reporter. Maybe we're closer to narrowing the wage gap than we thought....
Dana Macario is a TODAY Moms contributor and Seattle mom to two young kids.
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