@ElanaSchlenker
@ElanaSchlenker

The Pop-Up Store Where Women Pay Less Than Men

@ElanaSchlenker
@ElanaSchlenker

Earlier this month, graphic designer Elana Schlenker made headlines for her pop-up store 76<100 where women pay less than men for everything on the shelves. Specifically, they pay 24% less, highlighting the pay gap in Pennsylvania where women make just 76 cents to every man's dollar.

"The pricing structure is intended to be tongue-in-cheek, to grab the community's attention and then foster dialogue around the issue," Schlenker told The Huffington Post.

Schlenker was inspired to launch her “<100” project after reading about a 1960s feminist writer who charged men more for her books than she did women. Her non-profit, which is stocked with wares from female artists, sends 100% of the proceeds to the creators, and she intends to take the pop-up to other cities.

In fact, the 76<100 store wraps up its run today. The project heads next to New Orleans, where women will get an even steeper discount on the same items. It’s a bittersweet steal: women in Louisiana are paid on average 66 cents to every man's dollar.

For Schlenker, the traveling store isn’t intended to be retribution for a specific slight, but simply a way to facilitate discussion (and hopefully action) about workplace inequality and the wage gap that still exists across the nation. But in stoking that discussion, she’s inspired a different question: is the store legal?

Clearly, not all of the conversation that’s occurred online has been productive. Instead of talking about how we can get to a place of more equal footing, some commenters have instead focused on whether or not the two-tiered pricing at Schlenker’s store is discriminatory against men. The problem is, they might have a case. mental_floss spoke to a few lawyers who expressed concern that detractors could bring a discrimination suit on the precedent of a series of cases in previous decades that struck down Ladies Nights (where restaurants and bars offered discounted liquor prices to women as a promotion to get people in the door). According to the lawyers, the fact that Schlenker’s project is done in the name of art wouldn’t really protect it. They pointed us to a student named Dennis Koire who took his complaint about male discrimination all the way to the California Supreme Court in 1985 and won, with California Supreme Court Chief Justice Rose Bird insisting that “the legality of sex-based price discounts cannot depend on subjective value judgments about which types of sex-based distinctions are important or harmful.”

In other words, even if <100 is a great idea, it might not withstand legal scrutiny. But the discussion may be moot. If the pricing structure is indeed “tongue-in-cheek,” as Schlenker has noted, and more something to generate buzz than something that’s actually acted on, Schlenker’s stores should be in the clear. And even if a lawsuit does occur, we’re guessing it will only put more of a spotlight on an issue that could use a bigger one.

If you’re in Pittsburgh today, be sure to visit Schlenker’s store before it closes. And check out her Lessthan100.org site if you want to learn more about the effort. 

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The Average Age When People Become Millionaires
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If you start investing in a retirement plan early in your career, you don’t have to bring home an insanely high salary to become a millionaire—eventually. (Thank you, compound interest.) The average age when bank accounts reach the seven-figure mark is in a person’s late 50s, according to Business Insider and The New York Times.

The average age when women become millionaires is slightly lower than the average age for men, despite the persistent wage gap in the workforce. For women, the average age is 58.5 years old, while for men, the age is 59.3. Or at least that’s the case for people with Fidelity 401(k) retirement plans, according to the investment firm’s research. That means that millionaires are reaching that milestone several years before the usual retirement age of 66 to 67 years old.

Nevertheless, how much money you need to retire comfortably varies based on your current salary, your expenses, and the number of years you’ll be living off your nest egg. Many financial advisers say you should aim for $1 million or more, which will hopefully last you through a 30-year retirement.

Reaching that million-dollar mark may seem like a long shot, but Fidelity has found that more and more of its savings plan customers have become millionaires in recent years. One of the firm’s recent analyses found that 133,000 of its customers had $1 million or more in their accounts in 2017, compared to 89,000 in 2016. (The company oversees 401(k) accounts for around 15 million people, so that’s not exactly a huge portion of its customers, though.) Between 2005 and 2017, the number of women who had $1 million in their retirement accounts doubled.

Fidelity attributes this increase to people putting more money away for retirement than in past decades. On average, the firm’s customers making less than $150,000 a year become millionaires by saving around 22 to 25 percent of their salaries in retirement funds, including employer matches. That may seem like a lot if you aren’t making a six-figure salary, but keep in mind that the earlier you start saving, the more your money grows. Investing just a little money in your 20s is a more effective way to save for retirement than investing a lot of money in your 30s and 40s. So if you want to become a millionaire (and who doesn’t?), now would be a good time to start investing in that 401(k).

[h/t Time]

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How Rich the U.S. Is Compared to the Rest of the World, Visualized
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iStock

The U.S. is often called the richest country in the world. But how rich is it, really? A new infographic from How Much, spotted by Digg, explores the average household income across the 36 countries in the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). As you can see in the graphic below, the U.S. is, on average, quite rich compared to most other countries.

The infographic explores finances on two different levels. The size of each bubble corresponds to household wealth: in other words, assets minus debts. That means it takes into account savings, stocks, and other financial assets as well as loans. (It doesn't include property holdings due to a lack of data, so it doesn't encompass the big boost of wealth that comes from say, owning a penthouse overlooking Central Park in New York City.) As you can see, the U.S.'s bubble is a pretty big outlier. On average, U.S. families have a net worth of $176,100, compared to just $128,400 in the second-wealthiest country on the map, Switzerland.

Colored bubbles represent household income and wealth across the OCED
How Much

The colors of the bubbles correspond to "household net adjusted disposable income," as the OECD refers to it, which has to do with the money you bring in each year rather than what you own. That takes into account salary, income from things like stock dividends and rental properties, and government benefits (like Social Security, unemployment, food stamps, or housing subsidies). It also takes into account what each household pays in taxes, providing a snapshot of the take-home pay people actually have available to spend, rather than their pre-tax salary.

The U.S. has relatively high salaries, at $44,000 a year (the top of the scale) in disposable income. Only Switzerland, Luxembourg, and Norway have disposable income levels greater than $35,000. Mexico falls at the bottom of the scale, with average adjusted disposable incomes of less than $15,000. Most of Western Europe falls within the $25,100 to $30,000 range, while income in Eastern Europe, Israel, South Korea, and New Zealand is a little lower.

There could be a lot going on behind this data, though. The U.S. has an increasingly stratified economic system, so while the averages seem fairly high, that's probably because the few billionaires among us are skewing the numbers. The U.S. also doesn't have the social safety net offered by governments in much of the rest of the world, meaning that while we have relatively high salaries and pay lower taxes in some cases, we have to pay for things like healthcare and retirement on our own.

Read more about the OECD numbers here.

[h/t Digg]

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