Thankfully, This Shop Offering ‘Empowering’ Items Like ‘Lean In Heels’ Isn’t What It Seems

Clever fundraiser for The Girls’ Network highlights the need for real solutions on gender inequality

When you try to buy items from the satirical site, an "error message" asks you to donate toward real equality. The Girls Network / Among Equals

LONDON—Are you a woman looking to get ahead in life? Then perhaps the purchase of a pair of “Lean In Heels” might be a good investment, or a new “Glass Ceiling Hammer” so you can smash your way out of the patriarchy.

Or if you’re really looking to splash the cash, why not get yourself some “Pay Gap Filler” to help paper over all the pay raises your male colleagues got when you were overlooked for promotion?

British nonprofit The Girls’ Network—which works to advance the career prospects of girls and young women from the least advantaged communities—has created a fake online shopping site called The Empowerium that purports to sell woman these items as part of a whole range of items they really shouldn’t need to get by in 2020.

As well as the items listed above, other products supposedly for sale include a “‘Have-It-All’ Hold-All”, which “comes in three daring shades: fuchsia, rose and blush.” The fake site will be promoted on social channels with a series of posters and GIFs.

Anyone who clicks to purchase the items will be greeted with an error message, which says the item has been removed due to “extreme sexism and ridiculousness” and will be urged to donate to the organization instead to help it enact real lasting change.

The campaign was created by Among Equals, a U.K. agency set up over the summer to specialize in ‘high-impact brands and campaigns that work hard and do good.”

Agency founder Emily Jeffrey-Barrett said: “We wanted to create something that brought a different dynamic to the conversation about gender equality at work. Everyone knows the stats. Everyone knows it’s a huge issue. But, still, the problems persist. So we chose to highlight it with humour and sarcasm instead of re-stating the facts.

No young woman should have her future limited by her gender, ethnicity, background or parental income.

Charly Young, CEO and co-founder of The Girls’ Network

“Our hope is that by bringing these issues to light in a funny new way, we might help The Girls’ Network engage new audiences. And, by making ridiculous products, highlight how ridiculous it is that these issues still prevail in workplaces across the U.K. even though it’s 2020.”

The Girls’ Network was set up in 2013 to help underprivileged women and girls by connecting around 1,000 teenagers with a professional mentor each year to help improve their access to opportunities.

Data shows that there are around 150,000 girls in the U.K. alone who are eligible for free school meals, as their parents can’t afford to pay for them. Fewer than half of these girls, The Girls’ Network said, will pass their school exams, and only 6% will go to university.

Charly Young, CEO and co-founder of The Girls’ Network, added: “We believe that no young woman should have her future limited by her gender, ethnicity, background or parental income.

“We want to see all girls being supported to realize their ambitions, discover their self-worth, and develop their capacity to shape the world and their future. This year, Covid-19 has had a disproportionate impact on those from the least advantaged communities,” she said.

@saramayspary Sara Spary is a freelance journalist based in London. She's been a reporter for eight years, covering advertising and consumer brands.