Imagine having someone sit you down during your last year of high school and tell you not to apply for that credit card your freshman year of college. How would that change your financial life?
Imagine teaching a high school girl to negotiate for her salary and benefits before she even enters the work force. How would that help close the gap between male and female wages?
Those are the questions that two Steamboat Springs High School students, Stephanie Sanders and Jessica Vernon, asked themselves. They hope to find the answers Tuesday at the Financial and Economic Awareness Conference, a day of workshops for high school girls that they helped to organize.
The idea came at the beginning of their junior year when they attended a meeting of the Women's Foundation wage disparity subcommittee.
The older women started the meeting with a list of statistics that Vernon said she had never heard before.
They told her that women make 70 cents for every dollar men make.
"That's the first fact we found out," Vernon said. "That's what caught our interest in doing this project. That statistic catches your attention."
A lot of people don't know wage disparity is a problem, she said.
The Financial and Economic Awareness Conference is open to high school juniors and seniors from Steamboat Springs High School, Christian Heritage School and Lowell Whiteman School.
"This year we just opened it to Steamboat because it is our first time," Sanders said. "We're going to start small and let this be a test run. If it works, next year we'll include the entire county."
A similar conference could be organized for high school boys, Sanders said.
Sanders and Vernon organized the conference as a senior project for the SSHS Leadership Class.
They spent last year working with the Women's Foundation wage disparity subcommittee, Sanders said.
The Women's Foundation organized the speakers to give lessons on everything from how to find a job to money management. Sanders and Vernon solicited donations to make the event possible.
"All last year we brainstormed issues that we personally would like to learn about," Vernon said. Both were nervous about next year's journey into independence. Debt, they knew, was a big problem.
"You get into college and start getting applications for credit cards," Vernon said. "It's easy money, but you don't think of what it really entails. I heard that credit card debt is at an all-time high right now."
Vernon also wanted advice on how to handle student loans.
"We don't want to have to make mistakes on our own," she said. "We want them to educate us early."
Though they helped to organize the event and have researched the issues, both girls plan to attend as many sessions as possible.
"A lot of the girls that come are seniors," Sanders said. "We are going to be facing decisions that we never had to deal with before.
"I think this will be an eye-opener."
-- To reach Autumn Phillips call 871-4210
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