Young Scientist Gitanjali Rao On Closing the Wage Gap

We met young scientist Gitanjali Rao, 12 years old, at the 2018 MAKERS conference, and she is all about activating solutions for change. She developed a lead-detection device for safer drinking water after learning about the water crisis in Flint, Michigan. Gitanjali is so passionate about the wage gap issue that she presented a mock bill supporting equal pay for women at Colorado’s Youth In Government Convention last November. Today, on Equal Pay Day, she is sharing her ideas on what we can do to help close the wage gap.
With the #MeToo movement coming to life recently and many of today’s most influential women revealing the pay difference between them and their male counterparts, how does it make you feel when you hear about successful women making less than men doing the same jobs?
It’s very foreign to me that there are two people doing the same job, and one is getting paid about 21 cents less for every dollar the other makes. It seems so unfair.
What do you think needs to be done now so that equal pay for women becomes a thing of the past for your generation?
I think you have to feel like you have the freedom to speak to your employer about what your salary is and about your fellow co-workers’ salaries, and about how to fix it if it isn’t equal. Right now people don’t have the freedom to speak to their employers about this.
Also, we need to be comfortable talking about how much we make with our fellow co-workers, and not be embarrassed about it. If we’re able to be open about how much money we’re making, everyone will be aware of any inequality and it will be more likely to get fixed.
Who do you admire right now for taking a strong stance on this issue to create change for tomorrow?
I admire all of the women activists out there who are making a difference for other women, from the suffragists who helped us get the right to vote, to the women of today who are fighting for equality in science and tech, something I really care a lot about.