April 4th is recognized as Equal Pay Day, symbolizing the number of extra days — from the start of the year — it would take for women to earn the same salary as that of a man. Across the country, retailers stood in solidarity with women’s groups to protest the gender wage gap. This year, a handful of Rochester area coffee shops were among the approximate 300 businesses who took part.
Although the wage gap has shrunk a bit in recent years, it’s still a significant problem.
According to Jaclyn Richard, President of Rochester’s chapter of NOW (National Organization for Women), “on the average, 70 cents to 80 cents is what women are getting to a man’s dollar,”
she told News 10 WHEC.
The Census Bureau and Bureau of Labor Statistics back this up, stating that women earn around 79 cents for every dollar men earn in both salaried and hourly positions. Official statistics also show women are still paid around 20% less than men throughout the United States. And according to the National Committee on Pay Equity, black women earn about 30% less than men, with Hispanic women earning around 39% less than male workers.
A few Rochester coffee shops decided to take action earlier this month and do their part to caffeinate women a bit more fairly. Coffee Connection locations on South Avenue and at The Greenhouse Cafe and 1872 Cafe on West Main Street all offered discounts for women on April 4th. Male customers were charged either regular price or more for their coffee fix.
Wholly 85% of a business’s customers live or work within a five-mile radius of that location, but these shops weren’t too worried about any outrage stemming from the price variance.
Joy Bergfalk, owner of Coffee Connection, told News 10 the effort was about sparking a conversation.
“We are going to have a sense of humor, our objective is to make a point not offend anybody,” she said.
The daily specials were followed by an Equal Pay Day discussion on the University of Rochester campus, sponsored by NOW and the University of Rochester’s Susan B. Anthony Center. It’s the hope of organizers that discussions on the gender wage gap will continue to take place and that steps will be made to decrease the massive difference.