Phoebe Maltz Bovy at The Atlantic explains how unpaid internships negatively affect all workers, not just young women from wealthy families who can afford to work for no pay:
Unpaid work exists, of course, well beyond creative fields and coastal glamor. One can be an unpaid intern with a Nebraska police department, or at a Minnesota restaurant. Young adults in general, particularly students and post–2008 college graduates, face a “job” market that doesn’t necessarily promise an ability to pay one’s own bills. But if unpaid internships continue to be so closely associated with Carrie Bradshaw wannabes, it’s understandable that the issue would be ignored in favor of the plight of tomato farmers.
The majority of unpaid internship positions do go to women, but those women aren’t always rich. The entertainment business is rife with this sort of thing, and I can testify firsthand that many of the people trying to break into the industry barely scrape by.