Today is National Equal Pay Day, and despite the Equal Pay Act's signing in 1963, women still make 78 cents to a man's dollar. These statistics become even more damaging when it comes to women of color— African American women make 64 cents to a man's dollar, and Latinas pull in only a little over half at 56 cents. Well, Pittsburgh graphic designer Elana Schlenker is launching pop-up boutique 76<100 in protest of the wage disparity, still plaguing American women.
Schlenker's store will be charging women 76 percent (the wage gap in Pittsburgh is 76/100) of the retail value of any item in the store while male shoppers will pay the full cost. Of the difference in pricing, Schlenker says, "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."
While wage equality has its critics and even those who believe the issue is nonexistent, Schlenker looks to bring awareness through the seemingly mundane act of shopping. While many may not directly notice a missing 24 cents on the dollar from their pay check, 76<100 highlights the gap in a concrete way.
On top of the store manipulating prices, 76<100 will feature the work of independent women artists with a similar vision to Schlenker. The graphic artist states:
"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 and her fellow independent artists are creating a visible, tangible way in which wage inequality affects women every day. While getting a 24 percent discount doesn't seem like a miraculous step toward equal pay, the store's ability to make the issue visible will hopefully be a call to attention for those unaware of the issue, specifically men who enter the store. Schlenker also plans to take her stores to other cities and match the distance to their specific wage gap. The expansion into other cities couldn't make us happier, and I'll be waiting in line to purchase cool merch from some like minded ladies.