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Cafe charges men MORE than women to address gender pay gap

  • The owner of Handsome Her in Melbourne wants to address the gender pay gap
  • House rules grant women priority seating and make males pay 18 per cent more
  • The 18 per cent man tax matches the 'wage gap' and goes to a woman's service
  • Owner Alex O'Brien says the tax is optional but so far no one has refused to pay 

By Sam Duncan For Daily Mail Australia

Published: 23:23 EDT, 4 August 2017 | Updated: 00:30 EDT, 5 August 2017

A vegan cafe charges men more than women and gives female customers priority seating, claiming the measures address the gender pay gap.

Handsome Her, located in Brunswick in Melbourne's inner north, is the brainchild of self-styled 'big greenie' Alex O'Brien who calls her cafe 'for women, by women.'

The unique establishment aims to address the gender wage gap with the 18 per cent man tax and start a conversation on the issue.

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The proceeds from the premium go to women's services, and Ms O'Brien (pictured) plans to rotate charities four times a year
The proceeds from the premium go to women's services, and Ms O'Brien (pictured) plans to rotate charities four times a year

The proceeds from the premium go to women's services, and Ms O'Brien (pictured) plans to rotate charities four times a year

House rules (pictured) at Handsome Her detail the cafe's 18 per cent premium for male customers
House rules (pictured) at Handsome Her detail the cafe's 18 per cent premium for male customers

House rules (pictured) at Handsome Her detail the cafe's 18 per cent premium for male customers

Women are given priority seating at the cafe (pictured) in Brunswick in Melbourne's inner north
Women are given priority seating at the cafe (pictured) in Brunswick in Melbourne's inner north

Women are given priority seating at the cafe (pictured) in Brunswick in Melbourne's inner north

Whether men pay the 18 per cent premium is up to them, but so far none have failed to cough up, Seven News reported.

'If men don't want to pay it, we're not going to kick them out the door. It's just an opportunity to do some good,' says Ms O'Brien.

Customers at the '100% plant based' cafe - which also refuses to use disposable coffee cups, handing out mugs instead - were enthusiastic about the rule.

'I think it's fair if you think about the world and the gender inequality that we have,' said one female customer. 

The owner of Handsome Her, Alex O'Brien (pictured) is a self-styled 'big greenie' and feminist and wants to start a conversation about the wage gap
The owner of Handsome Her, Alex O'Brien (pictured) is a self-styled 'big greenie' and feminist and wants to start a conversation about the wage gap

The owner of Handsome Her, Alex O'Brien (pictured) is a self-styled 'big greenie' and feminist and wants to start a conversation about the wage gap

'If men don't want to pay it, we're not going to kick them out the door. It's just an opportunity to do some good,' says Ms O'Brien (pictured)
'If men don't want to pay it, we're not going to kick them out the door. It's just an opportunity to do some good,' says Ms O'Brien (pictured)

'If men don't want to pay it, we're not going to kick them out the door. It's just an opportunity to do some good,' says Ms O'Brien (pictured)

'I think it's a brilliant idea because I don't think many people actually know the actual gap,' said another.

Ms O'Brien, who describes herself as 'feminist, not the fun kind,' says she just wants to start a conversation and raise awareness, Broadsheet reported.

'We’re bringing it [the gender pay gap] to the forefront of people's minds. I like that it is making men stop and question their privilege a little bit,' she said.

'One of my friends who works for a not-for-profit women's service was talking about the pay gap and I thought it was a good idea, so we decided that one week every month we would charge men an 18 per cent premium, which we will donate.'

'We’re bringing it [the gender pay gap] to the forefront of people's minds. I like that it is making men stop and question their privilege a little bit,' said Ms O'Brien (pictured)
'We’re bringing it [the gender pay gap] to the forefront of people's minds. I like that it is making men stop and question their privilege a little bit,' said Ms O'Brien (pictured)

'We’re bringing it [the gender pay gap] to the forefront of people's minds. I like that it is making men stop and question their privilege a little bit,' said Ms O'Brien (pictured)

The cafe also features a wall of inspirational women (pictured) and refuses to use disposable cups
The cafe also features a wall of inspirational women (pictured) and refuses to use disposable cups

The cafe also features a wall of inspirational women (pictured) and refuses to use disposable cups

The proceeds from the premium go to women's services, and Ms O'Brien plans to rotate charities four times a year.

August's gender pay gap premium will go to Elizabeth Morgan House, which helps Aboriginal women and children.

The initiative has provoked a mixed reaction on social media, with some applauding the issue and others accusing the cafe of sexism.

'Well and truly discrimination. All female staff. Well and truly illegal if you discriminate against a gender when hiring!' wrote one Twitter user.

Handsome Her describes itself as '100% plant based) and offers vegan and vegetarian food (pictured)
Handsome Her describes itself as '100% plant based) and offers vegan and vegetarian food (pictured)

Handsome Her describes itself as '100% plant based) and offers vegan and vegetarian food (pictured)

Female customers (pictured) reacted very positively, with one saying 'I think it's a brilliant idea'
Female customers (pictured) reacted very positively, with one saying 'I think it's a brilliant idea'

Female customers (pictured) reacted very positively, with one saying 'I think it's a brilliant idea'

'I hope Handsome Her becomes the most successful cafe in Brunswick,' wrote another.

A signboard at the cafe displaying the house rules notes that the 18 per cent surcharge reflects the gender pay gap in 2016.

A report by the Workplace Gender Equality Agency in 2016 states that the full-time gender pay gap is around 18 per cent, according to Australian Bureau of Statistics figures.

This means that women earn only 82 per cent as much as men on average, and would need to work an extra 65 days per year to make as much as men.

Other were more positive (pictured) and hoped Handsome Her would be a great success in the area
Other were more positive (pictured) and hoped Handsome Her would be a great success in the area

Other were more positive (pictured) and hoped Handsome Her would be a great success in the area

The reaction on social media was more mixed with some (pictured) accusing the cafe of discrimination
The reaction on social media was more mixed with some (pictured) accusing the cafe of discrimination

The reaction on social media was more mixed with some (pictured) accusing the cafe of discrimination

Critics of the concept of the gender pay gap call it a myth, saying the figure is skewed as it averages all salaries across all occupations.

Recent data shows a UK pay gap of 28.6 per cent for all jobs shrinking to only 0.8 per cent for jobs at the same level, company and function, the Economist reported. 

Australia's Sex Discrimination Act of 1984 makes it unlawful to provide goods or services or make facilities available to discriminate against another person based on their sex.

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