THE BLOG

Want Real Pay Equality? Then it's Time We Stopped Over-tipping Women

11/02/2015 08:42 | Updated 12 April 2015

Tipping is a complicated custom. Leave a tip in Japan and you're likely to offend, do so in Argentina and you could actually be breaking the law, but fail to leave a tip in the United States and you can expect the cold shoulder on exit.

But even when you know a tip is expected, the practice still confounds countless visitors to the States, especially Britons. Do you double the tax? Split the tip between server and the captain? How much do you deduct if the server is female? All legitimate concerns for the considerate diner.

Which is why you should love Toothpick, a new app that helps you calculate a fair tip, wherever you are. No more embarrassment, no more side-eye from disgruntled servers and importantly, no more over-tipping the females. After all, they're the ones most likely to receive generous tips from wealthy male businessmen, so they hardly need any more favours.

Toothpick is intuitive. It makes fair tipping super easy and dare I say it, fun. Just enter your subtotal, adjust the tip amount for quality of service (the default is a generous 15%) and then, where appropriate, apply the gender deduction, which knocks off 22% for female servers..

Toothpick's slogan "Only tip what they deserve" may seem a little to-the-point for some, but it's anchored in cold, hard fact. Woman constitutionally deserve to be tipped less than men.

"Women and men were not created equal. So why should they be tipped like they are?" states the tipthemless.org website with bombastic authority. And they are right. In the States, women earn on average, 22% less than men. So it stands to reason that we tip accordingly. Why wouldn't you?

For example, on a $50 bill, tipping at a generous 20%, your male server will receive $10, while his female colleague's fair share amounts to $7.70. You keep the gender deduction of $2.30 for yourself to do with as you please.

And of course, if you're now facedesking with rage or incredulity (assuming you read this far and didn't immediately rush off to queue for the outrage bus), you'll fully understand the point of what Miscellaneous Mischief, the the four-person team behind this app, are doing.

The team, co-founded by Amy Kim, whose first hand experience of gender discrimination in the tech scene inspired Toothpick, launched the app to highlight the ongoing inequality in pay between men and women, currently 22% in the United States and 9.4% in the UK, according to the most recent data from the Office for National Statistics.

"With this, we wanted to create something that could take the issue of the gender pay gap and place it in a context that everyone can easily understand and relate to: tipping. With something as simple as a tip calculator that tips women less, we've been able to bring an important issue to light in a way that's never been done before," said Gabe Whaley of Miscellaneous Mischief.

"This campaign is all about awareness. Download the app, share it with your friends, and get people talking. Sexism is a global issue, and the more conversations we can have about it, the closer we can get to some sort of real change."

And the reaction to the stunt has so far been positive, says Whaley.

"People on Twitter, Facebook, and Product Hunt, largely from the tech scene, have all been very supportive of the cause and appreciative of this app. There have been a few instances where people either didn't read enough and got offended, and so they voiced their opinion, which simply led to further dialogue about this issue. Exactly what we wanted to happen."

In the UK, the gender pay gap still sits at just under 10%. Taking into account average earnings throughout the country, this works out at a difference of around £100 per week between men and women doing the same jobs. The gap widens the further up the pay ladder one rises too. According to the Chartered Institute of Management, males occupying managerial positions with bonus schemes take home 25% more than their female colleagues.

Figures released by the University of Cambridge at the end of last year revealed that women academics employed by the University earned on average £8,400 less than their male counterparts - the equivalent to 10 months' rent on a 1-bedroom property in the city. This inequality prevails despite the Equal Pay Act of 1970.

In the States, they're still waiting for the equivalent act, the Equal Rights Amendment, to be made part of the Constitution.

So if any of this disgusts you, download the app and share the message.