76/100: POP-UP SPARKS DIALOGUE ABOUT THE GENDER-WAGE GAP

“What are women worth?” Asks the headline of a self-produced newspaper in big green letters. This question drives “Less Than 100″, a mobile pop-up store that aims to spark a dialogue about the ongoing gender wage gap. Answer: ladies in Pennsylvania make 76% of their male colleagues’ earnings.

Behind the project is Elana Schlenker, a graphic designer by trade who has long been interested in women’s issues. “I like the idea of having a store with a purpose,” she said, while rearranging a shelf of gorgeous ceramic wares. She recently returned to Pittsburgh from living in New York and soon the space and support came together.

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The pop-up, currently housed at LOCAL 412 (4901 Penn Ave), features books, magazines, art, housewares, jewelry and other goods by women. The inventory strikes a nice balance that will appeal to art insiders and casual collectors alike (some of my faves: Casey Droege’s winking books and ceramics in classic designs by Reiko Yamamoto). Each item has two price tags: the full price, which is what men pay, and 76% of the price, which is what women pay.

It’s a clever way to start a dialogue. “For the more expensive items the difference is dramatic,” Schlenker points out. Still, she is quick to emphasize that the issues are considerably more complicated (discriminatory hiring makes it tougher for women of color to earn what white women do).  Complimenting the pop-up, Schlenker has scheduled an impressive line-up of women (entrepreneurs, artist, media producer) to engage the public in dialogue, in person, at the space.

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While the backlash has been mild, it’s important to note that the response has been overwhelmingly supportive, including from an unexpected source: “Amazing men have been contacting me saying, this is really important.”

More information and the schedule of events planned for the month, visit lessthan100.org or their Facebook page. Business hours Tuesday-Sunday, 12-7 pm through April 30.  Following its Pittsburgh run, the pop-up will travel to New Orleans where it will be renamed, 66<100.

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