Mind the Gap

Recent projects address the U.S.’ gender pay gap

A recent study indicates that some online advertising networks may be showing unfair bias against women by serving ads for high-paying jobs disproportionately to men. This is just one instance of the mounting cultural dialogue surrounding issues of workplace gender inequality. Recent initiatives, including a social media campaign, a retail experiment, and a pricing restructuring seek to call attention to the situation.

072015-1 #talkpay: This past May Day software developer Lauren Voswinkel, after being underpaid for years, decided it was time to raise awareness of the pay gap and created a hashtag intended to do so. Her #talkpay campaign encouraged people to publicly share their job titles and salaries, thereby eliminating the taboo of talking about one’s income. The concept took off, and a bot was subsequently created that allowed people to anonymously share their job title, salary, gender, years of experience, and bonus (if applicable) through a Twitter feed. The hashtag gained notice in particular among Silicon Valley workers, the majority of whom are white and male.

072015-276<100: According to the latest data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, women earn approximately 78 cents to a man’s dollar. This past spring, graphic designer Elana Schlenker brought local attention to the injustice by opening 76<100, a pop-up shop selling only women-made products that charged its male customers 100% of the retail price of items and charged female customers just 76%. (In Pennsylvania, where the shop was, the wage gap is 76 cents:$1.) Schlenker plans to travel across the nation with the political retail project; next up is New Orleans, where the shop will be renamed 66<100 to reflect Louisiana’s even more discouraging pay gap.

072015-3M’Lady’s Records: Earlier this month, Portland-based M’Lady’s Records, a self-described “radical feminist and willfully obstinate record company,” instituted a new policy wherein women will pay 77% of list price for all of their mail orders. Though a Brooklyn bar instituted the same policy for a night, the record label plans to commit to the pricing structure permanently until change is made in larger society—even if it negatively impacts its bottom line. However, the announcement has been met with such an outpouring of customer support that it won’t be surprising if the change ends up boosting the label’s profit margins in the long run.