Little Kids Use a Lemonade Stand to Show Absurdity of Pay Gap

The boy receives a full dollar in payment while the girls get loose change.
Oct 30, 2015·
Samantha Cowan is an associate editor for culture.

Children’s notorious “why” phase, in which they question every command or fact from an adult, can be a challenge in patience for parents as they attempt to answer an endless stream of inquiries. But when it comes to questioning why men make more money than women, the folks at the “Make It Work” campaign want kids to keep on asking.

“Why does he get one dollar, and I only get 65 cents?” a girl asks in a video released this week from YouTube star Issa Rae and “Make It Work” that tackles labor issues such as equal pay and paid time off. Titled “Lessons in Equal Pay for Corporate America,” the skit breaks down the wage gap in kid-friendly terms by paying children different amounts for the same glass of lemonade, based on gender and ethnicity.

While the white boy gets the full dollar, the white girl is handed 78 cents, the black girl gets 65 cents, and the Latina girl gets 54 cents, reflecting the current wage gap across America. When the boy pockets a dollar bill and the girls get loose change for identical cups of lemonade, it appears all the more absurd.

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The reasons just don’t add up for the kids. When one girl asks why the boy gets more money she’s told, “Oh, it’s simple. It’s because we value him more than we value you.” When another child pushes further, he’s told, “Because that’s the way it’s always been.”

The folks at “Make It Work” are working to change that by advocating for salary transparency, including through establishment of a public database that would reveal how much companies pay employees by gender, race, and ethnicity. They also support the Paycheck Fairness Act, which has repeatedly failed to make it through Congress. This act would not only hold employers accountable for gender-based discrimination but also protect employees from retaliation if they share salary information with their peers.

Losing out on a few cents for lemonade might not seem like a big deal, but for women in the workforce trying to make ends meet, it means missing out on an average of $11,000 annually for the exact same work their male counterparts do.