'Man tax': Melbourne café charges men 18% extra

07 August 2017

A cafe owner in Melbourne, Australia has found a novel way to address the issue of gender disparity - she charges men more than women - in what has been dubbed the 'man tax' and also allows ladies priority seating.

Alex O'Brien, who owns the vegan café Handsome Her, says she gives female customers a better deal to raise awareness of the gender pay gap.

O'Brien says that so far, no male customers have failed to cough up the additional charge, which works out as an 18 per cent mark up. However, it is in operation for only one week per month.

She wants to start a conversation over the issue of gender equality in the workplace.

She describes her restaurant as 'for women, by women' - though men are welcome, and the surcharge isn't compulsory.

"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 O'Brien.

She told the Daily Mail the proceeds of the 18 per cent premium will go to a non-profit women services group.

Patrons of the vegan cafe, which doesn't use disposable coffee cups and serves a 100 per cent plant-based menu, appear supportive of the idea.

One customer told Seven News in Melbourne, "I think it's fair if you think about the world and the gender inequality that we have."

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

O'Brien describes herself as a "feminist, not the fun kind", and says, "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.''

The report is just the latest spin on how some businesses are trying to tackle wage disparities. State lawmakers have introduced bills across the US aimed at the shrinking pay gap, but it remains a hot topic in workplaces across the country.

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