The real story behind this Melbourne cafe charging a 'gender gap surcharge'.

In the few days following its opening, the Handsome Her cafe has caused quite a stir.

You might have read how the vegan haunt in Melbourne’s Brunswick are charging their male patrons a ‘man surcharge’, adding an 18 per cent surcharge to their bill.

It’s been somewhat of a baptism of fire for the cafe, whose ‘Rules’ chalkboard drew mixed reactions once it hit Twitter.


While many delighted at the opportunity to raise awareness for Australia’s gender pay gap – which currently sits at 17.9 per cent – some took the move rather personally – because heaven forbid a man and a woman should not have the same amount of money in their bank account after completing an identical job…

But before you burn your bras or grab a pitchfork, let’s dial it down a notch and understand the story behind the initiative.

The Handsome Her cafe confirmed to Mamamia its male customers have the option to pay an 18 per cent surcharge on top of their bill, but not everyday and certainly not by force.

LISTEN: Mamamia’s This Glorious Mess explain just how parents can help their daughters get ahead of the gender pay gap (post continues after audio…)

“It’s a voluntary payment available for one week of every month, with the proceeds going to a women’s services charity,” an employee said.

“This month, it’s the Elizabeth Morgan House for Aboriginal Women’s Services.”

As for who’s actually paying the 18 per cent surcharge, according to Handsome Her, it’s not just the men getting involved.

“We’ve actually had more women volunteering to pay the surcharge because they want to get behind the cause,” they said.


“In the three days we’ve been open, it’s been really positive, lots of good vibes, lots of great women coming in and also a lot of great men – we haven’t had any men who haven’t been happy to donate with the surcharge.”

In a Facebook post, Handsome Her addressed their newfound fame, chalking up the renewed conversation surrounding Australia’s gender pay gap as a success.

“Who would have thought one little chalkboard would cause such a stir?” the post reads.

“Notes from the real world – I had a woman bring her daughters in today and when she came up to the till and saw our gorgeous vulva stones and our period sticker packs she beamed, thanked us for what we were doing and said ‘what a beautiful place to take my daughters’

“We’ve had men travel across town to visit us and pay ‘the man tax’ and throw some extra in the donation jar – guys, you’re pretty neat.”

In terms of any negativity towards them, Handsome Her are happy to cop it on the chin in the name of gender equality.

“For us, it’s like water off a duck’s back. [Any negative comments] are a small price to pay for a good cause.”

For more information about the Handsome Her Cafe, check out their website, Facebook and Instagram.