Equal Pay Day is happening Tuesday in the U.S., thanks to the American Association of University Women. And you don't have to attend the 3 Percent Conference to know that the gender gap is painfully real both within and beyond the American advertising industry.
But the professional divide between men and women is even more stark in certain societies.
According to a recent study by the World Economic Forum, Romania ranks very close to last among European Union countries on matters of gender equality despite passing a "Law for Equality of Opportunity among Men and Women" in 2002.
The Bucharest offices of MRM/McCann recently partnered with French-style bakery chain Paul to bring attention to this ongoing struggle with some sweet treats bearing a very sharp message—real pies that double as pie charts outlining the problem.
The project includes such delicacies as "The Misrepresentation Cake," which notes that men make up 88 percent of Romania's parliament, and a "Startup Exclusion Cake," revealing that the number of Romanian entrepreneurs who are women (13 percent) is almost as shamefully small as the number who serve in government. There's also the "Extremely Rich Cake," which shows that just one of Romania's 25 wealthiest people is a woman.
"The bittersweet project takes a mission to spread the data, create awareness, and spark conversation in every household in Romania about the importance of closing this gap," says MRM/McCann CEO and chief creative officer Nir Refuah, noting Romania's poor showing in the World Economic Forum study.
The pattiserie, Paul, claims that the "bittersweet" pies are the world's first-ever "social desserts line." "The CSR project has started from a social issue every Romanian woman faced at least once in her life," says the company's CMO, Monica Eftimie. "Knowing from research data that sweets are more often consumed by women than by men, we are launching a range of cakes to spark the conversation about gender inequality, inviting women to take the necessary steps for having the same rights as men have."
Those steps will involve far more than a series of conversations over dessert, but all progress is welcome. As the 2015 U.N. Women "He for She" project's tagline put it, "Gender equality is not just a women's issue; it's a human rights issue that benefits everyone."
Five percent of the cake project's revenue goes to the FILIA Foundation, a nonprofit that will use the funds to train rural women to compete more effectively in the modern job market.