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Art Store's Prices Reflect Gender Wage Gap

Courtesy Photo/ Elana Schlenker

Gentlemen, beware: the owner of a new Pittsburgh art store will be charging you extra.

Elana Schlenker wants her pop-up store “76<100” to raise awareness about the fact that, according to statistics from the U.S. Census Bureau, the median earnings of a female full-time worker in Pennsylvania is 76 cents to every dollar earned by a man. To make her point,  Schlenker will charge men full price for the artwork she sells, while women will receive a 24 percent discount.

“And it’s obviously totally unfair and doesn’t make a whole lot of sense,” Schlenker admitted. “It feels very arbitrary, and I feel like when you look at the numbers around the wage gap, it’s kind of the same thing.”

Visitors to the store can purchase textiles, publications, stationery, art canvases, photography prints and ceramics made by women artists. Each item will have two price tags—one for men, one for women.

The project has a budget of $7,000, with $5,000 coming from donations, grants, and other fundraising and the remainder of the money coming from Schlenker. Her supporters include the Sprout Fund, the Women and Girls Foundation and Awesome Pittsburgh. All proceeds will go to the artists, some of whom are regional.

“Doing this project for me was about not just focusing on the negative—obviously, women aren’t earning what men are earning—but also celebrating women,” Schlenker said. “I just know so many women artists whose work I just think is amazing.”

76<100 will be open Tuesday through Sunday throughout the month of April. Schlenker’s store will occupy part of Local 412, a clothing and music store on Penn Ave. in Garfield.

According to Schlenker, the timing of the 76<100 project coincides with Equal Pay Day, April 14. Equal Pay Day is a date set by the National Committee on Pay Equity to represent how far into the next year women must work to earn what a man earned in a single year for the same job.

Schlenker’s project will include a workshop with members of Carnegie Mellon University’s Program for Research and Outreach on Gender Equity in Society, a panel with local female entrepreneurs, a bus tour of Pittsburgh and an intergenerational community reporting project lead by 90.5 WESA’s Margaret Krauss.

Schlenker is a freelance graphic designer and University of Pittsburgh grad from Brooklyn who moved to Pittsburgh in August. She will host a kickoff party for her store on April 3 during “Unblurred First Fridays,” a monthly community art celebration along the Penn Ave. Corridor.