The 20 Coolest Girls in America

YM  magazine, November 2003 

Wage Warrior Susan Sparrow, 17, Salt Lake City

It’s not easy being a liberal feminist in an extremely conservative state like Utah. But last year, Susan, then a junior at Rowland Hall St. Mark’s School, started a student activist group focused on women’s rights and devised a plan called POWER-UP (Politics Open to Women for Equal Representation). “High school kids are kind of an ignored part of the population because we can’t vote,” she says. "But we’re still constituents. We can go and talk to our representatives and senators.”

So Susan led a charge of teenage lobbyists who championed a bill authorizing a study of salary inequities between male and female state workers. (Women in Utah make 67 cents to every man’s dollar. Susan and her group felt the study would help pinpoint where inequities were happening.) After hours of research, Susan’s team handed out fact sheets at the state capitol, so none of the legislators could say the information was unclear, along with homemade cookies. To dramatize the pay inequities, the smaller cookies read “67 cents” and the larger ones were iced with “$1.”

Their hard work was rewarded in March when the bill passed by a landslide–71 to 1. Susan swears that the organizing and sweating was actually fun: “It's an adrenaline rush.”

– Kelly DiNardo