Artist’s shop in Garfield to draw attention to pay inequality with discount for women
March 31, 2015 11:35 PM
Artist Elana Schlenker of Polish Hill stands in her pop-up shop in Garfield that will showcase the work of 40 female artists from around the region and the country.
By Amy McConnell Schaarsmith / The Pittsburgh Press
Amid the handmade ceramics, textiles and art, local artist Elana Schlenker’s temporary shop in Garfield has a point to sell: that women like those who created those works of art on average are paid 76 cents for every dollar made by a man.
To draw attention to that issue, Ms. Schlenker plans to charge women 76 percent of each item’s listed price, while men will have to pay full freight.
“It’s a little tongue-in-cheek and obviously it’s not fair, but hopefully that will stop people for a minute and we can have some conversations about the issue,” said Ms. Schlenker of Polish Hill. “At the same time, I’m just really excited to share what these women are doing with the community, and hopefully we’ll have other women come in and get inspired by what their peers are doing.”
The 76<100 “pop-up” shop, which is Ms. Schlenker’s idea and was sponsored by the advocacy group Women and Girls Foundation, will open at 4901 Penn Ave. Wednesday and will remain open throughout the month of April, Tuesdays through Saturdays from 12 to 7 p.m. An opening reception will be held at the shop on Friday from 6 to 10 p.m.
Other sponsors include the Sprout Fund Seed Award, Soup N’At and Awesome Pittsburgh. The project coincides with National Equal Pay Day on April 14 -- the date representing how far into each year women must work to equal what men made in the previous year. That discrepancy can add up to hundreds of thousands of dollars lost over the course of a woman’s lifetime, according to the project’s organizers.
Ms. Schlenker, 30, graduated from the University of Pittsburgh in 2007. After graduation, she launched a design studio in Brooklyn, N.Y., and created a graphic design magazine called Gratuitous Type. She returned to Pittsburgh last year and began developing the idea -- and now the store -- for 76<100.
In addition to showcasing artwork, publications, accessories, stationery and packaged food made by more than 40 women from around the region and the country, the shop will produce a free poster for visitors that explains the gender wage gap, its causes, and possible remedies in the workplace and through advocacy, Ms. Schlenker said.
In an effort to bring women and girls together, Ms. Schlenker also will host several events throughout April in partnership with other community organizations, including a “story swap” on April 14 in which young women and older, professional women will share stories about their experiences as women in the workplace; a negotiating workshop with Carnegie Mellon University’s Program for Research and Outreach on Gender Equity in Society on April 18; a panel discussion on April 23 directed by the co-founders of Propelle, a local networking and coaching service for female entrepreneurs; and a bus tour of local female artists and their work on April 26.
Tara Simmons, vice president of the Women and Girls Foundation, said her group has been trying since 2005 to raise awareness of the wage gap between men and women in southwestern Pennsylvania, and has seen the average rise from 70 cents for women to the men’s dollar.
Despite the passage of some local wage equity legislation, pay for women still falls short -- and for women of color, even shorter, she said. As a result, 75 percent of households in poverty in Allegheny County are headed by single women.
The roots of that inequality are many -- including policies written by male elected officials, a lack of paid sick time that forces women to sacrifice their paid hours or even their jobs, and a reluctance to ask for promotions and raises, according to Ms. Simmons.
Researchers, she said, have found that women hesitate to apply for jobs unless they meet 80 to 90 percent of the qualifications, while men often will apply if they feel they meet even half the requirements.
“I think that’s true of women’s salary negotiations as well,” Ms. Simmons said.
Amy McConnell Schaarsmith: firstname.lastname@example.org. First Published March 31, 2015 3:51 PM
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