A Purdue organization will be hosting an event to combat wage inequality, which gives American women 79 cents to the male dollar, and demonstrate what the wage gap would look like if it were reversed in favor of women.
Purdue’s chapter of the American Association of University Women will be hosting an equal pay day pop-up shop from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on April 12 in the Purdue Memorial Union, Room 118.
Kris Tupas, a senior in the College of Pharmacy and the AAUW treasurer, had the idea to bring the pop-up shop to Purdue after learning about a similar event in Pittsburgh. The creator gathered local female artists and entrepreneurs and had them sell their items at a discount reflective of the wage gap. The average wage gap in Pittsburgh is 76 percent, so all of the women who bought items at the pop-up shop only had to pay 76 percent of the item’s original cost, while men still had to pay the full 100 percent.
“I thought it was a tongue-in-cheek kind of way to raise awareness about it,” said Tupas. “On their FAQ page, people were saying ‘This isn’t fair, why are you doing this?’ And the answer is ‘No, it’s not fair.’ That’s the point.”
Pop-up shops are becoming more popular and can be found all over the country at different times of the year. Purdue’s AAUW chapter Skyped with the creators of the original pop-up shop in Pittsburgh and the sister pop-up shop in New Orleans to get advice and learn more about the commercial response to their event.
“They said for the most part, people were really jazzed about (the pop-up shop) and really excited to learn more about how they can combat (wage inequality),” said Tupas. “I know Purdue tends to be more conservative, so we’ll see what the response is. So far, whenever I tell people about the project, they’re like ‘Oh my gosh, that’s hilarious.’”
Like the Pittsburgh and New Orleans shops, AAUW invited female student vendors to sell their items in order to show support to the women on campus. Students will be selling items such as painted wine glasses, graphic design art prints and photographs. AAUW will be giving out stickers and buttons to help raise awareness. There will also be a photo booth and coffee with the women of AAUW for an informal discussion about wage inequality. In Indiana, women are paid on average 75 percent of what a man is paid for the same job, so the pop-up shop discount at Purdue will reflect that.
“There are some who don’t know about the wage gap and the effects that it has on professional women,” said Missy Catlow, a senior in the College of Liberal Arts and the events coordinator for AAUW. “There are others who may not think that it’s real. We are hoping to not only grab the attention of students but to give them the resources to come to their own conclusions. This pop-up shop serves as a way for all Purdue students to rally around one another to promote equality in the workforce.”
Although the wage gap is partially due to the prejudices held against women in the past, it is also largely based on the fact that, generally, women don’t negotiate their salary once they get into their career field.
“It’s because our culture teaches women to be polite and accept what they’re given,” said Tupas. “Not a lot of people know you can negotiate your salary after you graduate to something you deserve and based on where you live, your living expenses and what other Purdue graduates are being paid for the same job. Not a lot of people know that or are afraid to do that. There’s also the fact that women are expected to take time off work to take care of their kids.”
The wage gap is not only a huge issue for millennials starting to enter the workforce, it is an important issue for women of color who are getting paid even less than their white counterparts.
“This is a personal issue for me as a young professional because I am going to be affected by the wage gap,” said Catlow. “But I think that this is an opportunity to mention that I still have more privilege as a white woman. A woman of color has an even larger wage differential that should be taken into account when discussing the social impacts of the wage gap in the workplace.”
AAUW will host a Start Smart Salary Negotiation Workshop at 12 p.m. on Sunday, April 17, in the Third Street conference room to give men and women the skills and resources that they need to be confident negotiating their salary while contributing to the elimination of the pay gap.
“If we continue the way we’re going right now, we’re not going to get equal pay for over a hundred years — it’s crazy,” said Tupas. “There’s legislation happening in the government right now moving toward equal pay. I wish we were right around the corner, but we have a long way to go. Our grads are potentially going to be managers or supervisors or people who may be deciding what salaries to give people. If they are aware that the wage gap exists, they will be able to account for that and be fair when they are hiring people of all genders.”