By Linda Loyd
The Philadelphia Inquirer.
Reuters editor Lauren Young and Farnoosh Torabi, author of three books, including When She Makes More, had a key message Saturday for young women in high school:
Money makes the world go around — and their first big money decision will be college.
Young, a financial journalist, and Torabi, a personal-finance expert, were back on their home turf at Harriton High School for the second annual Girls Leadership Conference, started last year by the Lower Merion School District’s Innovation Center.
About 150 girls from Harriton and Lower Merion High went for advice on developing leadership style, landing internships, advocating for themselves, and ways to handle gender discrimination.
Young and Torabi graduated from Harriton in 1985 and 1998, respectively, and both attended Pennsylvania State University. Choosing a less costly college was one of their smartest moves, they said, because they weren’t saddled with loan debt and could go to pricier graduate schools, Northwestern and Columbia.
Young drew laughs when she asked the audience how many babysat. About half raised their hands. She asked who earned $10, $15, or $20 an hour. Then she told the $10 earners to ask for a raise.
“You don’t get what you deserve; you get what you negotiate,” Torabi said. “That’s what my father taught me. Even to this day, it’s something many people struggle with, particularly women, because it’s not something that we often teach young women. That you need to ask for more, and ask for better.”
Young said: “There’s a reason why we earn 77 cents for every dollar a man earns. Women think, ‘Oh, I got the job, it’s great and that’s enough.’ No, it’s not enough. You have to ask for more. Nobody is handing anything to you on a silver platter.”
After a pizza lunch, the students broke into sessions on topics that included “Money Matters!” led by Wharton finance and marketing students Amanda Russoniello, 20, and India Cooper, 19.
Bryn Mawr and Haverford College faculty and students led other groups about “exploring our identity, my gender, my voice” and “loud and clear: use your voice to reach your goals.”
One of the most popular — creating “brand you” — dished advice for standing out in college applications and more.
“You don’t get a lot of opportunity in high school to talk about this kind of stuff,” said Julia Utkus, 16, a sophomore at Lower Merion High. “There are still issues. A lot of the girls aren’t taken seriously.”
Julie Lichtenstein, 15, a Lower Merion sophomore, said she admired her grandmother, who works.
“It’s really inspiring to me that I don’t have to rely on my husband to make money, that I can make it on my own, and would be able to provide for my family.” Lichtenstein said she plans to be a pediatrician.