According to a 2015 report from the Institute for Women’s Policy Research, women still make 78 cents to the man’s dollar in the United States. It’s a disappointing statistic (and it gets even worse when you look at the numbers for women of color), but not a surprising one: the wage gap is alive and well, and we still have a lot of work to do to close it.
But one woman isn’t taking those numbers sitting down. In a rad statement against gender inequality, graphic designer Elana Schlenker has opened a pop-up shop in Pennsylvania called 76<100, where female shoppers are charged 76% of the full retail price of items and male shoppers 100% — a reflection of the state’s pay gap.
“It’s incredible how deeply unconscious biases still permeate the ways in which we perceive (and value) women versus men,” Schlenker told Refinery29. “I hope the shop’s pricing helps to underscore this inherent unfairness and to create space for people to consider why the wage gap still exists.”
While some might be quick to question whether the store itself is sexist for charging different prices between genders, it’s important we remember that shopping at 76<100 is a personal choice and the wage gap is not. (Schlenker also told The Huffington Post that the pricing structure is meant to be “tongue-in-cheek, to grab the community’s attention and then foster dialogue around the issue.”) We’re all for any project that brings awareness to pay inequality in such a smart, unique way — and the store even offers flyers that further break down the wage gap, including for transgender people and women of color. (In case you were curious, Black women make about 65 cents to the man’s dollar, and Hispanic women make about 55 cents to the man’s dollar, according to the same study that found the 78 cent statistic.)
“I’ve read article after article about the wage gap and the ways in which women are perceived (and undervalued) in the workplace,” Schlenker told The Huffington Post. “And when I had the idea to do a shop with this ‘pay what you’re paid’ pricing, I felt like it could be a really powerful, positive and fun way to approach this issue and also connect with other women whose work I admire.”
The not-for-profit store (made possible thanks to donations and grants) features paper goods, books, ceramics, and more, all made by women. All sales (with the exception of a very small cut to help maintain the store) go straight back to the artists themselves, and most items are priced under $50. Along with retail, the shop has been hosting various events, including a workshop for salary negotiations, a story swap (for Equal Pay Day), and even a bus tour of Pittsburgh’s art scene. Awareness is the most important first step in creating change when it comes to gender inequality, and we think Less Than 100 is doing a rad job.
“More than anything that is what I hope for — to get people talking about the wage gap and these other women’s issues, and to understand that remedying this isn’t about discriminating against men, or even passing legislation necessarily,” she continued. “There are a lot of more deeply seeded issues and biases in our society that are perpetuating this problem. Recognizing this, while encouraging women to ask for what they’re worth is, is one small step toward positive change.”
Schlenker has hopes of traveling around the U.S. with the Less Than 100 project, and will be bringing it to New Orleans, Louisiana in the fall. As women make 66 cents to the man’s dollar in the state (the biggest wage gap in the country), the store will appropriately be called 66<100, and women will only be charged 66% of the retail price of items.
“Even though the shop is based on a negative statistic, I wanted it to be a positive space,” Schlenker told Buzzfeed News. “I want it to be a place where women and men can discuss pay equality safely.”
To find out more about the project, check out the Less Than 100 website right here!