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After a feminist's viral yearbook quote, Googling about the gender pay gap surged

Caitlin Cannon's inspiring quotation called out the gender pay gap and nearly doubled Google searches for the topic over a seven-day period, proving that a small thing like a single photo shared on the internet can get us all talking about chronic injustices that deserve more attention.

This picture of Cannon's high school yearbook quote about gender and LGBT equality won hearts and minds across social networks last week:

It's tricky, but possible, to track what influences trending searches using public data

English-language Google searches for the phrase "gender pay gap" rose 99 percent between Friday, May 22, and Friday, May 29, 2015, with the highest uptick on the 29th:

Searches for "gender pay gap" on Google.

Searches for "gender pay gap" on Google, May 22  to May 29, 2015. Accessed via Google Trends Alerts.

Viral hunting is an art, not a science, and we'll know more about other stories and events influencing the trending searches in a few months, when Google Trends usually presents data that more directly correlates with search and news headlines. A Google News search and analysis of top-shared news stories regarding "pay gap" and "gender pay gap"  in the past week, however, reveals Caitlin's story rode atop the news cycle at the same time the searches rose. This is the same data Trends compiles for all search trends, though it usually does so months after events happen.

A Google News search pulls up more than 60 stories related to the yearbook story in a topic search, followed by around 20 stories about George Clooney's recent remarks about leaked Sony documents regarding pay in Hollywood.

Given that there is no comprehensive solution to the matter, Caitlin's story is neither the first nor the last time the matter of pay discrepancy will start a Google-able conversation.

While the past few months have seen a steady level of interest, the topic really took off after 2013.

A 30-day graph shows a search that is not surprising for a general topic of interest:

It's important to note that these results reflect English searches and don't include searches in other languages for the same topic, something I am looking into further to determine other topic-related interests in countries where English is the primary language. But if we start the clock the year Trends began tracking searches in 2004, you can see that gender pay gap been gaining attention in greater numbers over the past decade.

The term "wage gap" has received ever-increasing attention since 2014:

The United States, Canada, Australia, and the United Kingdom are largely responsible for the bulk of the searches worldwide:

Caitlin's action is proof enough that it's past time to end gender-based discrimination, which is so familiar to us and pervasive in society that it can be easily Googled.

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