Have These Businesses Found A Solution To The Woefully Still-Present Wage Gap?

wage-gap

If you’re anything like us, you are probably sick of hearing how much the wage gap still exists in 2015. In the US, women reportedly earn 77c to every dollar a man makes for doing the same job. Women of color make even less. The Department of Labor says even though women make up half of the American workforce, the disparity still exists.

April 14 is national Equal Pay Day and this year many celebrities including comedian Sarah Silverman, Chelsea Clinton and Jennifer Lopez took part in a campaign created by Levo League to bring awareness to the unfairness that still prevails for many women in the country.

All of the statistics available, campaigns, and celebrity power in the world still has not managed to end this problem, however. So how are we ever going to change the culture to reflect a society that wants change and wants to see women treated equally (at least the majority of us do!)?

Well there are a couple of businesses in different parts of the country who have taken matters into their own hands in response to the way women are paid compared to men. The first is The Way Station bar in Brooklyn, New York, which managed to garner plenty of media attention when it was made public that they were charging women only 77% of a bar tab compared to men.

the-way-station-wage-gap

It’s a twisted take on the “if you can’t beat them, join them” mantra, whereby instead of trying to beat society over the head with how it needs to change, it has responded accordingly in a manner that reflects a disadvantage that should no longer exist.

Owner of the bar Andy Heidel told the press why he decided to make a statement about the wage gap, saying it was personal.

“I have three sisters. The majority of my staff and friends are women. I thought this would be a great way to even the playing field even if it was for one night only,” he said.

On July 7 (7/7, to reflect the 77c statistic) women got to pay 23% less of a bar tab. No surprise that the majority of attendees that night were women. Also no surprise is that the typical round of men’s rights activists were complaining about The Way Station’s stunt, yet Andy does not care because an important point was made.

“Men are already complaining on the Men’s Rights Reddit and other places saying I am discriminating. For those men complaining about it, those are not the type of people I want as customers so this promotion is helping to weed out those who do not want to treat women with respect,” he said.

A number of women who turned up on the night told The Guardian personal stories of knowingly being paid less than male colleagues.

“My male coworker works less than me gets paid more than me. The other day, we were talking about pay and wages and he told me he gets paid more than me,” said a patron who works in retail and is studying fashion.

“This is about equality. This is America. We should get equal pay,” she continued.

wage-gap-infographic

There are people who insist the wage gap is a myth and that the statistics are not accurately presented. To be fair, there are numerous factors that go into the wage gap existing. One issue is that men and women have different negotiating strategies (as a gender generalization) meaning there are some who think women need to be empowered to ask for what they’re worth rather than under-sell their abilities. Another is the argument that certain types of companies and employers don’t look too favorably upon hiring women of child-bearing age because they are only going to quit their jobs and have babies.

If the US wasn’t one of the ONLY countries in the world that didn’t have any form of government parental leave, this would drastically change the scope of this argument. If there was an incentive to return to work, not only would it save employers a lot of money, but there would be no need, at least on paper, to discriminate based on gender.

The second business that is drawing attention to the wage gap is a Portland-based music label called M’Lady’s Records. Unlike The Way Station, they have implemented an ongoing strategy which we presume will end once the wage gap does: women will now pay only 77% of the list price for all their mail orders.

The label, described as “radically feminist and willfully obstinate” is heavily reliant on sales for the business to stay afloat so making this drastic change isn’t exactly good for business, but in the long run hopefully it will be good for societal change.

Brett Lyman from M’Lady’s Records told NPR in an interview that they haven’t had many complaints from the men on their mailing list, mostly because they were told if they did complain they would pay double!

Wage-Gap-feminism

So why go to all this trouble just to make a point about the wage gap? We’d like to wager that if a certain number of conservative politicians go to the trouble of continually voting down the Paycheck Fairness Act multiple times when it gets presented in the Senate, then something drastic and attention-grabbing has to be done to start balancing out the scales and hopefully, eventually, tip them in the direction of fairness.

Although there are certain state equality measures in effect around the country that relate to wages, when you consider the fact that the Equal Rights Amendment has yet to be ratified by the US Constitution (translation, equal rights could essentially be viewed as “unconstitutional”) the problem is not as easy to brush off.

And no matter how many times actress and political commentator Stacey Dash insists there is no such thing as unequal pay because hey you guys, President Kennedy signed the Equal Pay Act in 1963, that is not a meritable enough reason to ignore the problem. That’s like saying, “marital rape was ruled as a crime in all 50 states in 1993 which means it never happens anymore!”

Let’s not be ignorant, but let’s also not despair of the discrimination. As these two businesses are proving, there are more ways than one to skin a cat. Instead of telling the same old statistics over and over again, making men feel like they are now the ones being given a raw deal by making them pay for more since they are receiving more wages in the first place may actually put some sort of a dent in this national debate and open up a fresh discussion about the need to abolish the wage gap.

miladys-records-wage-gap

 

2 Comments

  1. Pingback: IATE term of the week: female poverty - Terminology Coordination Unit [DGTRAD] - European Parliament

  2. Pingback: If We Want Gender Equality To Happen In Society, We Must Ensure It First Happens In The Home - GirlTalkHQ

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.