Math Made Me a Feminist

10622987_810818688963582_3276870170838549656_n77 cents to a dollar. That is exactly why I am not afraid to use the “F Word” that so many of us fear. I am a feminist because I do not believe that because I happen to be female that I should earn less than a male in the same position as myself. 77 cents to a dollar is what I will make in comparison to my male counterparts when I graduate in 8 short months and enter the real world, the adult world and leave this fake reality called college.

Not only am I scared and timid to wake up on my first day of work and sign away my life on the dotted line of employment, but I am scared to be on my own and to have the ability to be independent. I think all college seniors and recent graduates share the same fears as I do in regards to what comes next. Ultimately we are all striving for a job that lets us do something we enjoy enough to make a career of it, but also a job that allows us to live comfortably as young and newly independent adults. However, there is a major aspect of a career that is considered remotely taboo: the starting salary.

Anyone who is currently, knows or has been a college student is aware we work tirelessly (we also procrastinate, a lot) over 8 semesters to achieve the grades that we know will earn us the starting salary that will help us get on our own bike and let go of the training wheels we call our parents. This goes for both men and women, we are born with a desire to be successful and unfortunately in the society we live in, most people define the success of a person in terms of wealth.

This leads me back to 77 cents to a dollar. When I graduate and get my first job, I am sure I will be hired along side many other recent grads who are just as qualified as myself, have a similar resume as myself, and have a similar GPA as myself.   However, because I was not born with a Y chromosome, I will on average make 77 cents for every dollar that my equally qualified male counterpart will earn. For simplicity, lets say that an average starting salary is $50,000 when I enter the career force (The average starting salary in the United States is actually $45,327). My male counterpart would most likely be offered $64,935 for the same job, 23% more than myself. If he were to be offered an average starting salary of $50,000, that means that I would most likely be offered $38,500, 23% less than him.

Ideally, I want to live in New York City after I graduate. Being an occasionally logical person I calculated the New York State taxes that I would be paying as a resident using a paycheck calculator from Intuit. Using the $50,000 salary as average, I discovered that after taxes in New York, $18,956.82 will be deducted for income tax, $3,100 will be deducted for Social Security, $725 will be deducted for Medicare and $4,728.28 will be deducted for NY State income tax. That will leave me with $22,489.90 as my yearly salary. If you divide that by 52 weeks, I will be earning roughly $432.50 a week, $1,730 a month. Considering a monthly MetroCard is $112, leaving me with $1,618 a month. Now if you factor in rent, the average rent for an apartment within a 10-mile radius of New York City is $2989. Assuming I will have two other roommates, that leaves me with a $996.33 rent payment a month. I now have $621.67 left for the month. I average about $50 in groceries a week, $200 a month, so after I go grocery shopping I have $421.67 dollars left for the month. If you multiply that value by 12 months, I am left with approximately $5,060.04 to spend for the entire year. That is roughly $97.30 left for me to spend per week.

After earning a $50,000 dollar wage, I am left with $97.30 a week, a tiny amount that is barely enough to scrape by. However, when I am hired and earn 77 cents to a dollar making my salary $38,500, after taxes I will have $17,529.95 left of my salary. Following the same method as before and factoring in the same variables such as rent, groceries and subway fare I will be left with $152.50 spending money per month and $38.12 per week.  That is exactly why I am not afraid to use the “F Word.”

As a newfound feminist, I had originally strayed away from the term reserving it to describe bra burning, anti-male, anti-patriarchy, and hairy-pitted women. But over the past year, I have been witness to more and more examples of feminism and how it should not have a negative connotation. Feminism is defined in the Merriam-Webster dictionary as, “the theory of the political, economic, and social equality of the sexes.” If you think that women should have the same political rights, social rights and economic rights as men, then you my friend are a feminist.

I deserve the right to be able to wear what I want and not have the fear that a man may take advantage of me because supposedly my little black dress and high heels are screaming, “Come overpower me and have sex with me against my will!” I want my future daughters to grow up in a society where doing something “like a girl” is not a derogatory term. I want to be able to chose what I do with and how I treat my body without a panel of male politicians telling me no. I want to be able to succeed in a male dominated field without having to flirt to advance my career. I want to succeed in a world where I am taken seriously and respected although I have two X chromosomes. I want to live in a world where I am granted the same privileges as my male counterpart, and I want the 23 cents that myself and other female college students, college grads and professionals deserve.

The most simple way for me to explain why I became a feminist is because in 8 months when I look back at my college career and I am waiting patiently for my job interview to begin I will think to myself, “I did not enter a four year university, rack up over $100,000 in student loan debt, create the best resume for myself and earn my degree just the same as my male classmates to not be given the same respect, opportunity and value as my male counterpart sitting next to me.” Numbers don’t lie and simple math is what made me a feminist.


Siobhan BrennanSiobhan Brennan is a senior at Fairfield University pursuing a degree in Communication and Sociology & Anthropology. She had her fifteen minutes of fame in the second grade when I was on the PBS show Arthur . . . and she is still waiting for her big return to stardom (dream big, ladies!!) Nothing gets Siobhan going like a good Instagram filter or a witty and charmingtwitter hashtag, which is why she believes Social Media is the marketing of the future. Siobhan has been known to crush an entire Netflix series in days, with her record being the entire Game of Thrones series in one week. Her idol since the beginning has been Liz Lemon and in true Liz Lemon fashion, yes, she would ALWAYS prefer to be bought mozzarella sticks than a drink at a bar.
Read more about and from the author: Siobhan’s WiLab Profile