Update: Schlenker's pop-up concept has moved to New Orleans, where the disparity is even worse than in Pittsburgh, and women earn 66 cents on the dollar. The store is currently open at 1612 Oretha Castle Haley Boulevard until November 30 (click here for more info). It's stocked with local and national artists including Keetra Dean Dixon, Holt McCall, Leah Bell, and more.
Originally published on April 14, 2015.
Today is National Equal Pay Day, a day recognizing the fact that, on average, women who work full-time jobs only earn 78 cents for every dollar a man makes. (Fun fact: The day always falls on a Tuesday, which symbolizes the two extra days a woman must work in order to catch up to the amount a man makes in one week.) It's gender inequality at one of the most fundamental areas in a person's life, and it sometimes can feel like a futile fight — but one of the first steps to change is to spread the word, and one graphic designer is doing her part in a very real way.
Elana Schlenker is starting a pop-up shop called 76<100 in Pittsburgh, where she charges women 76% of the retail price of any item, while men are charged the full ticket price. (In Pennsylvania, women earn 76 cents on the dollar.) Says Schlenker, "It's incredible how deeply unconscious biases still permeate the ways in which we perceive (and value) women versus men. 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."
As for its offerings, 76<100 sells products made by independent women artists who are all on board with Schlenker's mission. "Most of them feel the way that I do — something needs to be done about this. I just keep reading article after article about the wage gap, about how undervalued women are in the workplace, about the underrepresentation of women in company board of directors, executive positions, and government, and it just blows my mind. This is a small way that I can do something about it, and I think many of the artists involved are coming from a similar place."
Schlenker plans to take her pop-up on the road, where pricing reflects local wage gaps. This fall she hopes to travel to New Orleans to open 66<100, an even more drastic difference (and a better deal for you). But, don't think that the artists are getting shortchanged here; Schlenker is returning 100% of the sales to the participating artists, who typically sell their products at wholesale prices to boutiques. She's reached out to local organizations for grants to help maintain this pop-up protest, but to help Schlenker in her journey (and to find out more), visit the website here. In the meantime, click through to see some of the wares for sale — and remember, you pay 76% to whatever the dude next to you does. Not fair? We agree.