Step in a new pop-up shop in Pittsburgh, and the price you pay will depend on your gender. Men pay full price; women pay 76% of the total.
The shop, dubbed 76<100, is designed to point to the wage gap in Pennsylvania, where women earn 76 cents for every dollar that men make. That’s close to the national average. Over the last decade, the gender wage gap hasn’t really changed: In 2013, the most recent year that data are available, women with full-time jobs were still making only 78% of men’s salaries. Depending on the state, some women fare significantly worse.
The shop’s founder, graphic designer Elana Schlenker, kept seeing headlines about the issue and wanted to approach the conversation in a different way. “I just keep reading these articles about the wage gap, and how there’s more guys on boards of directors named “John” than all women–just these crazy things I saw every day about how women are underrepresented and undervalued,” she says.
After she happened to read about a 1960s feminist writer who charged men more for her books than women, she was inspired to launch a store that did something similar. “I was thinking that in a world where women are still earning less than men, it kind of makes sense to give women a discount,” she says.
The pop-up shop features work from female artists that Schlenker has collaborated with in her own design career (all proceeds go directly to the artists; the pop-up itself doesn’t make a profit). And while some customers are coming just to see that work in person, others come because they want to have a conversation about the wage gap.
“My very first customer was a woman who brought her granddaughter in and wanted to talk with her granddaughter about the issue,” she says. “It’s a good way in for people.” Though most customers are female, a surprising number are men.
Along with the art for sale, the shop is also hosting events like a workshop on negotiation strategy. “As much as the premise of the shop is this inherently unfair structure, I don’t want to just say there’s a problem, I want to do something–even if it’s something small–about it,” says Schlenker.
The shop will be open until April 30, and this fall, a new version will reopen in New Orleans. Louisiana happens to have the worst wage gender gap of all–women earn only 66 cents to each dollar. But at least that means they’ll get a better deal on some art.