When Hillary Clinton landed in our inboxes today announcing a new “wage-gap calculator,” Trailhead got a little giddy. We love all the interactive tools we can get our hands on (See: ” Delegate Calculator “; ” Map the Candidates “), so a Clinton-branded wage calc sounded more fun than arithmetic politics usually is. Educationally, the calculator is useless—it’s not fun, nor does it offer much personalized information—but politically, the tool sheds some insight into one of Clinton’s Achilles’ heels—young people (and the lack thereof).
The calculator offers five input fields: state, education level, race, annual salary, and age. The tool works for women only—enter all of that data and see how much less, on average, women make than men given your biographical info. All is swell until you hit the age box, where you get five options: 25-34, 35-44, 45-54, 55-64, and 65+. Missing, of course, is the demographic Clinton has always struggled with, 18- to 25-year-olds.
In exit poll after exit poll, she underperforms in the 18-29 bracket compared with other age groups (even in states she wins ). After she got walloped among the young’uns in Iowa (Barack Obama won 57 percent of the 17-to-29 vote; Clinton won 11 percent), she put a renewed emphasis on her Hillblazers and dispatched America Ferrera to convince the youth of America that she isn’t an old fart.
In the “methodology” section, the site explains that the Current Population Survey doesn’t provide salary data for 18- to 25-year-olds, but most young women won’t make it to the methodology if they’ve already been denied admission at the door. Moreover, because the age entered is used in only one of the metrics; they could have made an 18-to-25 option available but broken the bad news within the calculator. Instead, the Web team gave up at the first road block the rebellious youth threw at them. It may not have been purposeful, but it is indicative.
Granted, I may have issues with the calculator because I’m not the target audience. But that’s not because I’m a guy. It’s because I’m 21.