How much should a woman pay for her drinks at a bar? Whatever the menu price is, right? Well, not at this venue. The Way Station, a bar in the Prospects Heights neighborhood of Brooklyn, had another idea this past summer.
In order to address the glaring gender pay gap in which women in the U.S. earn about 77 to 78 cents to every dollar a man earns, The Way Station charged women just 77 percent of their bar tab on July 7th (7/7). Talk about ladies’ night.
I have three sisters. The majority of my staff and friends are women. I thought this would be a great way to even the playing field even if it was for one night only.” –Andy Heidel, owner of The Way Station
Heidel’s goal, he said, was to get people talking about the issue, which appeared to happen on the discounted ladies night held earlier this month.
“This is much bigger than I expected,” Heidel told the Guardian while taking a break outside from a packed standing-room-only bar. And according to the Guardian, once Heidel realized he would have to turn people away, he asked a neighboring bar to join the cause. “I wanted to be able to send them someplace where they would be treated with respect and be able to enjoy the same discount.”
While the move may be a novel way to bring attention to a serious issue, Heidel and The Way Station received a fair share of criticism from men’s rights activists over the move, some saying the deal was discriminatory against men, and some even threatened to boycott the bar.
“Men are already complaining on the Men’s Rights Reddit and other places saying I am discriminating,” Heidel told the Guardian. “For those men complaining about it, those are not the type of people I want as customers so this promotion is helping to weed out those who do not want to treat women with respect.”
While Heidel says the move is “weeding out the assholes,” his discounted pricing may actually be considered price discrimination based on gender. Some states actually prohibit businesses from doing that, but Heidel didn’t seem to mind the risk. “It’s 85% women in there and that’s fantastic,” he told the Guardian.
According to 2013 U.S. census bureau data, on average, women do make approximately $10,800 less than men annually, a statistic that has been highly criticized by men’s groups who say the data isn’t balanced.
For women, this can be discouraging. Not only is it difficult to compete with men for jobs, but women are also generally less inclined to negotiate for a higher pay rate even if they’ve been offered the job. It’s something even Sheryl Sandberg, author and COO of Facebook experienced when she was offered the Facebook position.
That’s not to say women don’t negotiate, but they may be less inclined to do so. Not only that, they may not know what men in similar positions are making in order to negotiate to an equal salary. It’s all enough to make a woman need a drink.
By Jill Ettinger, jillettinger.com