Pay what you're paid
April 19, 2015 11:34 AM   Subscribe

Lessthan100 is a traveling pop-up shop that sells artwork. Customers are charged a price that corresponds to the local gender pay gap.
posted by eotvos (19 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
From the second link:

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 [vice president of the Women and Girls Foundation].

On the other hand, charging women $0.76 and men $1.00 oversimplifies the issue and makes it seem like just changing an employee's gender would somehow directly alter their pay. If that were the case, the issue would be obvious and solutions would be simple. In fact, as the Women and Girls Foundation foundation recognizes, there are many reasons why one worker might get paid less than another, and some of them correlate with being a woman -- it's not just that women get paid less for equal work. I would hope that this stunt does not give people a misconception of the problem.
posted by Rangi at 12:31 PM on April 19, 2015 [3 favorites]

Great idea!
posted by Foci for Analysis at 1:02 PM on April 19, 2015

Response 1:

Yay! Super logical and ethical! Because two wrongs always make a right!

Response 2:

Yay! If I see something I like, I'll have my wife buy it!
posted by azaner at 1:08 PM on April 19, 2015

I was at an art show a month or so ago, where some of the items for sale at the gift booth were discounted 24%. I tried to pay full price, but was happily rebuffed. I was only buying printed pencils and soaps, though; it would have been weird if I, a cishet dude, had attempted to buy the nipple castings of famous feminists, at full price or otherwise.
posted by infinitewindow at 1:26 PM on April 19, 2015

Eh. As a clever attention-getter it works which seems to be the point. As an actual thing, not so much.

azaner: quick response 3 - So the female artist now takes a second 24% cut for 50% of the buyers?
posted by ctmf at 1:40 PM on April 19, 2015

Yay! If I see something I like, I'll have my wife buy it!

You'll get a 24% discount and the artist will get paid 24% less! It's a win/win scenario?
posted by MikeMc at 2:04 PM on April 19, 2015

Based on the popular Inequality Bake Sale.
posted by the jam at 5:40 PM on April 19, 2015

Rangi, sometimes, sadly, it is exactly that simple. People's rationalizations for why they pay a woman less are, of course, incredibly complex, like all the rationalizations people make for following their culturally taught prejudices.

But to women, it really does come out to less money in the bank than if they were a man doing the same work.

For proof, please feel free to read the mountain of research on this topic. I believe a recent one is the finding that male nurses get paid more than female nurses with the same experience and training.
posted by emjaybee at 5:55 PM on April 19, 2015 [6 favorites]

Speaking of culturally taught prejudices, a quick scan of that page doesn't seem to mention anything about the race based pay gap, which is just as important IMHO.
posted by mrgoldenbrown at 5:59 PM on April 19, 2015 [4 favorites]

...but not the topic of this particular FPP.
posted by tigrrrlily at 7:08 PM on April 19, 2015 [1 favorite]

emjaybee, thanks for the link. The article mentioned that the pay gap for nurses is similar to that of teachers (a female-dominated profession), and later than 20% of the university's nursing students are male. It occurred to me that maybe men need an incentive to take a stereotypically female job, and we might even see the opposite effect as male-dominated industries try to gain more female employees.

Unfortunately, the top Google result for "gender wage gap by profession" leads to this PDF from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, showing no obvious correlation as of 2011. They break the data down by many different categories, but one thing they note in the introductory highlights (speaking of the race pay gap, mrgoldenbrown) is that "earnings differences between women and men were widest for Whites and for Asians," but on the other hand "Asian women and men earned more than their White, Black, and Hispanic or Latino counterparts."

There's no clear solution here; you can't make salaries gender-blind (nor race-blind, nor shared-taste-in-movies-with-boss-blind, etc) because the people who determine your salary have to know who you are and what you do. Maybe discussing salaries openly would help? It would at least highlight the cases where a man and a woman who are otherwise equal are being paid differently. There's this Atlantic article making a general case for transparency in wages.
posted by Rangi at 7:51 PM on April 19, 2015 [1 favorite]

Transparency would help, certainly. Lilly Ledbetter couldn't sue until someone anonymously told her that she was being underpaid relative to the men in her company doing the same work. Rules against discussing wages are definitely part of the problem.

But so are sexist attitudes. When women do ask for raises/higher salaries, they don't get the same responses as men do: Contrary to conventional wisdom, researchers say it can hurt women to ask for more money. That's because when women do request either a raise or a higher starting salary they are more likely than men to be perceived as greedy, demanding or just not very nice.

Economics are not my field, but luckily for me, they are for blogger Echidne, who did a marvelous job exploring the ins and outs of gender wage gaps. There was a Wall St. Journal article that discussed that 2011 BLS report, and in the process of dissecting it, she gets into some good details on the subject.

Part 1
Part 2

She did an earlier, much more exhaustive, exploration of the gender wage gap, too:

Part 1
Part 2
posted by emjaybee at 10:22 PM on April 19, 2015 [1 favorite]

Scott Adams (of Dilbert fame) did a blog post on the issue of gender wage inequality. I have no idea about the individual claims made, and his verdicts on them, but it does show that the subject is a complex and difficult one. Properly understanding the causes is only the first step to redressing the balance.

Of this shop, this smells of a publicity stunt. Surely nobody could think that offering differing prices based on gender is a good idea? In the European Union, this would likely be illegal. (Even in a situation where offering a different price based on gender might be defensible, such as car insurance.) The fact that no other type of pay imbalance is addressed also makes me think this is nothing more than a publicity stunt.

If there's anybody out there who thinks this is a good idea, would you agree that a white supremacist should be able to charge black people more for the same goods or services?
posted by salmacis at 6:06 AM on April 20, 2015

Of this shop, this smells of a publicity stunt.

And since it's gotten us all talking about what the actual obstacles to pay equality are, it appears to have been a successful one.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 1:44 PM on April 20, 2015

So, basically an affirmative action bake sale, but with art?
posted by cosmic.osmo at 2:43 PM on April 20, 2015

For some non-US flavour here - the topic came up in a Malaysian research paper which was primarily about cost of living but had a random throwaway line which said offhandedly that median income was roughly the same between genders. I was very surprised! So I ran the numbers on the Malaysian gender pay data, which I've summarized in a table

1. For average wages, females earn 5% less than males, to the tune of RM95 per month.

2. Male dominated industries - agriculture, construction, transportation.

3. Female dominated industries - food service, education, social work

4. Female average wage is lower than males in every single industry except construction where they earn 13% more. I think this is caused by lack of granularity in this category, where women only work white collar roles within construction.

5. Variance analysis on the RM95 per month will split it into two causal factors - "mix", which is what choice of professions females go into compared to males, and "rate", which is, once we've compensated for choice of profession, how much the wage gap within each industry is contributing to inequality.

6. "Mix" accounts for females earning RM352 per month more than males, primarily contributed by the education sector. This is because the education sector is very highly paid relative to the rest of the economy (roughly RM3,500 vs the national average of RM2,000), and 15.3% of females work in education vs 4.2% of males. Construction related mix is interesting, it contributes positively to female wages because it pays below market rate and is a mostly male dominated industry.

7. "Rate" accounts for females earning RM447 per month less than males. We know across the board females earn less than males (point 4) and the two primary industries responsible are manufacturing and education, because of the magnitude of the gap (RM500 per month) and the quantity of females working there (18.4% and 15.3%). I think this is the most interesting take-away, that across the board females get paid less, but overall they work in higher paying sectors (education) and avoid the lower paying ones (construction, agriculture).

8. The data is from tax information, and excludes part time employees, and excludes bonuses and non regular payments.
posted by xdvesper at 5:13 PM on April 20, 2015 [2 favorites]

There an another, and some of them correlate with being a woman -- it's not just that women get paid less for equal work. I would hope that this stunt does not give people a misconception of the problem.

This is a great way to obscure the fact that many times women ARE paid less for equal work and derail the discussion.
posted by winna at 4:09 AM on April 21, 2015

there are many reasons why one worker might get paid less than another, and some of them correlate with being a woman

I believe that bolded part is the problem. Even if the rate of pay were equal for men and women, the pay gap will still exist because of different societal expectations between men and women. Until those are equal, women will always get the short end of the stick.
posted by LizBoBiz at 6:26 AM on April 21, 2015

@ first commenter: gender pay gap mainly due to women being the gender that gets pregnant. Capitalist work system not designed around humans shock. But it is one of the last remaining feminist issues
posted by maiamaia at 9:19 AM on April 21, 2015

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