During college, I interned for CosmoGirl!, Maxim and Billboard Magazines, three of the nation’s most widely distributed publications. At the time, simply being chosen for a prestigious internship was enough for me. In hindsight, I was completely overworked. I went to school full time, headed up the college newspaper and worked a part-time job. I wish the movement for intern pay had begun then, because I sure could have used a small token of financial appreciation. (Note: Billboard provided stipends).
According to the survey, since 2014, students seeking internships to prep for long-term career advancement went up 5.6 percent — 76 percent being women. That’s awesome! Interestingly enough, the survey found that 61 percent of students weren’t bothered by the idea of an unpaid internship, which begs another question altogether: are internships sought out or only good for mostly financially privileged students?
Other findings found that women were less likely to receive compensation for their internship roles — and regardless of the intern’s financial standing, equal compensation is a foundation right. Men were paid at 62.8 percent, while women were paid 45.2 percent of the time. That’s a major gap.
Consider, also, that men work in tech, manufacturing and transportation more often, while women were more often seen in marketing/PR, journalism, healthcare, and fashion. Why is it that the male-dominated industries pay more? What does this say about our values?
Further, women expect to be paid less than men — almost $3 less!
Other findings show that women actively seek internships that offer work/life balance, while less men prefer this (60.7 percent vs. 52.9). I’m wondering if women automatically go for a role that allows them to later have a family? What does this say about women who choose to let their career guide their lives? Is this decision not common, even today? Everyone knows that women are typically expected to have a family. Conversely, are men choosing their career over family life because the expectation of fatherhood isn’t thought to be the defining factor of being a man?
Whenever a woman chooses her career, it’s a ‘feminist’ move or a radical option. A man doesn’t face the same scrutiny over their choices, at all.
Hannah Riley Bowles, a professor at Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government who studies the psychology of women and work, said, “They cut themselves out of certain types of jobs, assuming it will be incompatible with a stage of life when they’re assuming larger pressures and responsibilities.”
So, where are we as a whole? I know when I graduated (2009) college and then grad school (2012), there were no jobs. Today, less than half of 2014’s graduates have full-time professional jobs that they’ve attained via their degree. To be precise, 16.6 percent of 2014 grads are jobless as of April 2015, according to the survey. In fact, as of April 2015, 16.6 percent of 2014 graduates are unemployed. However, graduates with three or more internships were more likely to be hired full-time or be self-employed. This is a positive because it shows students’ hard work pays off, but it’s also an unfortunate reality. Not every student has the ability to participate in an internship.
One thing is for sure: there are some major issues with the system. Hopefully, in the years coming, we’ll see that wage gap close, and we’ll see more students with diverse opportunity. For now, if you’re interning or know a woman who is, press them to ask for pay. Visit She Negotiates, for resources on how to ask for more.