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Pennsylvania Shop Gives Women a Discount to Highlight Pay Disparities

In one Pennsylvania store, items are priced according to gender to showcase how a significant gap still exist in wages between the men and women.
/ Source: NBC News

A pop-up shop owner in Pennsylvania hopes to start a conversation about the pay disparity between men and women by charging women 24 percent less, which is the average difference between male and female salaries in the state.

Women in Pennsylvania make 76 cents for every dollar a man makes, according to the National Women's Law Center. The national average is not much better with women making on average only 78 percent of what their male counterparts make, according to the American Association of University Women.

The gap grows as women age and grows even more for women of color who make only 64 percent of what white males earn, according to the National Women's Law Center. Latina women are paid a little more than half of what white males are paid, according to the law center.

To make those numbers more easy to relate to, Elana Schlenker started the pop-up shop called Less Than 100 where everything for sale has two price tags — one for men who pay full price and one for women who pay just a bit more than three quarters of that.

Image: Pay Disparity
Pay DisparityNBC News

"It just kind of makes this idea palpable, which is that you know women are earning less than men, and that adds up to real money," said Schlenker.

The shop owner realizes that some might accuse her of discriminating against men and admits "it's not fair ... but how is it fair that women are still earning less."

Schlenker also points out that women are underrepresented in government and high-level professional positions — but they're not underrepresented in her shop. All of the goods sold at Less Than 100 are produced by female artists, makers and entrepreneurs, and all the profits go to them, according to the shop's website.

The store also holds workshops for women on subjects like the strategy of negotiating and self-worth. Schlenker also gets to spark informal conversations with or among those who simply step foot into the store to shop. "There are quite a few people who have walked in, and I have explained to them there are two price tags — this is about gender wage equality. And it’s been interesting to talk to them about that," she said.

Customer Cody Villalpando comes specifically because he doesn't get a discount. "As a man, it’s like it’s easy for me to say that I support feminism but to go out and actually do something that’s actually helping a cause is more appealing to me," he said. "Wage equality just sort of shouldn’t be an issue but it still is. And so anything I can do to help, I want to do."

"It just kind of makes this idea palpable, which is that you know women are earning less than men, and that adds up to real money."

Schlenker plans to do everything she can too. She would love to see shops like Less Than 100 in all 50 states, but her eyes are set on New Orleans, where she plans to open a pop-up in the fall. Women earn the least compared to men in Louisiana, at 66 cents to the dollar, according to the National Women's Law Center.