Pittsburgh Woman Creates Gender Pay Gap Awareness By Asking Men To Pay More

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At first sight, Elana Schlenker's pop-up store, Less Than 100, which was open in Pittsburgh during the month of April appeared just like any other gift store. However, when shoppers went to pay, they were in for a surprise. That's because while men paid full price, women received a 24% discount.

Though that may appear to be blatant discrimination, Elana was merely abiding by the store's slogan "pay what you are paid". And since women in Pennsylvania get paid an average of 76 cents for every dollar men earn for the same job, it is only fair that they pay less.

As if the store's pricing policy was not enough to get the message across, Elana also distributed pamphlets. Entitled "What Are Women Worth?", it explained the status of the wage gap both in Pennsylvania and across the country, and also gave women tips on how to better negotiate salaries. A 2015 study conducted by the Institute for Women's Policy Research found that although the rate of women's income has been rising, men still earn more in every state in the country.

But though paying women lower wages is a shame, forking out the full price at Less Than 100 wasn't necessarily a bad thing. That's because the proceeds of all sales went directly to the local artists that had created the beautiful wares. During its month-long tenure, the shop was visited by hundreds of women who wanted to support her mission and the local artists whose work was being showcased. Some even brought in their kids and grandkids to educate them about the importance of keeping the gender wage debate alive. Elana says that while she received some grief about the "discrimination," most men were extremely gracious and happy to pay the full price.

Not surprisingly, the unusual venture has drawn worldwide attention. This November, Elana will partner with photographer Tammy Mercure and open a Less than 100 pop-up store in New Orleans.She believes starting the debate in Louisiana is important given that the state boasts the nation's widest gender wage disparity. Here, women earn a whopping 34 cents less than their male counterparts. While she has received several requests from California, it may be close to the bottom of her list. That's because the "Golden State" is one of the most progressive when it comes to wage equality and, therefore, does not need much help.

Though the Less than 100 project will not resolve the wage disparity, it is a thought-provoking way to bring to the forefront an issue that is increasingly causing a lot of angst among women. Fortunately, Elana is not the only one trying to change the unfair system. Patricia Arquette made an impassioned plea for gender wage equality in her acceptance speech at the Oscars this February. Ellen Pao the interim CEO of Reddit recently announced that new employees will be forbidden from negotiating salaries. She believes that men are better negotiators than women, and, therefore, tend to receive higher wages!

What's encouraging is that male CEOs are also joining the fight! Earlier this month, Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff launched a company-wide program to address the issue. Called "Women Surge" it aims to eliminate all gender-based pay disparities, hire and promote more women and ensure that they are better included in meetings! With all these visionaries taking the lead, it will not be long before gender pay inequality is something we will only read about in history books!

Resources: huffingtonpost.com,lessthan100.org,msnbc.com,abc.go.com

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295 Comments
  • MeTuesday, April 19, 2016 at 4:43 pm
    Hey Anne, I agree with you! I've done a good ammount of reaserch myself and anne is 100% correct! XO, MEE
    • AnneFriday, April 15, 2016 at 3:25 pm
      Redheadperson22, I'm sorry, but you are misinformed. The gender pay gap IS real. Trust me, I've done tons of research. Women earn 79 cents to every dollar a man earns. Dismissing the gender pay gap as something that is in the past and just brought up by "radical feminists" is inaccurate.Another beloved means of dismissing the gender pay gap is to point out that women tend to work in lower-paying (i.e., traditionally “female”) fields, like teaching, nursing and social work. And yes, that’s true. Women, as a whole, continue to work in lower-paying occupations than men do. But research has shown that even when women enter traditionally “male” fields, they make less. In fact, research looking at pay changes over decades has shown that when more women enter a traditionally male field, pay within that field begins to decline.when more women began working in parks or running camps, for example, median hourly wages declined by 57 percentage points. Same goes for fields like design, housekeeping and biology. Conversely, when more men enter a traditionally female field, wages go up. It’s not that women are always picking lesser things in terms of skill and importance, it’s just that the employers are deciding to pay it less. On average, in this country, men make up to 150% to 200% of women's median pay. The statistic IS a sign of discrimination because the whole reason women are getting paid less is because the employers are deciding to just because they are women. And, studies have shown that young girls say they want to work in traditionally male jobs and high-paying jobs up to 85% of the time. It's just that by the time girls reach the age of getting a job, they shy away from that thinking because they are pressured into getting traditionally female jobs which pay less.
      • redheadperson22
        redheadperson22Saturday, May 7, 2016 at 3:21 pm
        Ok. Let's just say that you're right for a second. Let's say that women are paid less than men for the exact same work, exact same hours, exact same experience, etc. Let's say that their employers get away with it. Now, let me ask you a question. If it's proven that you can pay a completely competent woman less than you would pay a completely competent man for the same work, then why do men have jobs at all? Why don't employers hire solely women? They would make a lot more money. You could say it's because of their own "misogyny", but let's be real. I doubt any sane person who cares anything about money would let their own minor biases get in the way of making money. In actuality, the pay gap largely disappears when you compare men and women working the exact same job with the same experience and the same qualifications. Not to mention no economist takes the "gender wage gap" seriously or sees it as an actually problem. But women tend to work less hours, take more days off, etc. Have you ever heard of Christiana Hoff Summers. She's an amazing feminist who makes awesome videos. She actually did a great video about the gender pay gap. I suggest you check it out.
      • I don't agreeWednesday, April 6, 2016 at 8:14 am
        well there are many jobs where a women gets paid more so I don't think this is fair.
        • OK THIS IS LONGThursday, March 10, 2016 at 5:44 am
          Hey guys+gals! The gender pay gap is just a myth. There are many jobs women make more than men, and the jobs men make more than women are just about 3%. just check out gender pay gap myth.
          • OK THIS IS LONGThursday, March 10, 2016 at 5:38 am
            Women might get less pay, but remember, men are better than women at some jobs, such as computer programming and athletes. I think the bosses are just trying to get the best of the best payed more. Also, sometimes women leave just as fast as they came so it is just the starting salary. Are feminists forgetting that they were supposed to create fairness, not for women to be treated better than men? I hope feminists don't create society that is unfair to men. But because of the internet, that is exactly what's happening.
            • salene
              saleneSaturday, March 12, 2016 at 8:20 pm
              Ok. I get what you're thinking, but honestly, I disagree. I mean, I pretty good at computer programming, in fact, I love it! There are also Olympic players who are females.
            • OK THIS IS LONGThursday, March 10, 2016 at 5:33 am
              redheadperson22, I get your thinking. But they say it is at the same jobs. However, I don't think this is a good choice. For example, it's not fair to men that get paid less( or just a teeny bit more, remember it's an average) Also, women that get paid much less than men- it's unfair to them! Elana's store is in the right direction, but feminists need to consider if their protests are just as fair to men.
              • redheadperson22
                redheadperson22Tuesday, March 8, 2016 at 4:55 pm
                I may have already said it before, but I feel the need to say it again. The Gender Pay Gap is not due to discrimination. It's due to personal choice. The statistic takes ALL the money earned by men in ALL lines of work and ALL the money made by women in ALL lines of work. Then it puts them next to each other. Women, on average, choose to work in professions such as teaching, which don't pay very much. Men, on the other hand, usually get jobs that have a higher pay. So obviously, when you put all the money together, women are going to be shown to make less money. This statistic is not a sign of discrimination. it just shows the different choices men and women make on average when it comes to jobs. So, if you want the pay gap to disappear, you're going to have to get women to want to work in higher paying jobs. There's nothing really wrong with that, but people should do what they want to do. You shouldn't pressure anyone to get into a field they aren't interested in just so they can fit a quota. As long as people are happy with the jobs they're pursuing, there really isn't a problem.
                • skydragon
                  skydragonSaturday, March 5, 2016 at 7:10 pm
                  waaaaahhhhhhh :'( (I don't to be paid less $ in the future)
                  • salene
                    saleneSaturday, March 12, 2016 at 8:17 pm
                    Ikr! 😉
                    • aleeya
                      aleeyaSunday, March 6, 2016 at 5:27 pm
                      Yeah. Me neither. :(
                    • NameThursday, February 25, 2016 at 5:14 pm
                      Instead of discriminating against women, NOW your discriminating against men. Therefore, IT IS NOT EQUAL!!
                      • coolThursday, February 25, 2016 at 4:34 pm
                        we all just need to have equal rights