Female customers at a New Hampshire bakery chain got a 21 percent discount on their bagels and coffee on Tuesday as part of an effort to call attention to the wage gap between men and women in the United States.

The Works Bakery Cafe, a popular eatery with four locations in the state, offered the deal to mark Equal Pay Day. The national event is held on the day of the year that, according to organizers, the average woman would have to work until to earn the same amount a typical man did in the prior year.

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Women employees in the United States earn an average of 79 cents for every dollar male employees make, according to federal statistics.

The price discount was part of a wider campaign by gender equality advocates in New Hampshire.

"We immediately jumped on board," said Joshua Runyan, who manages the cafe in Portsmouth.

Many customers waiting to place their orders on Tuesday expressed enthusiastic support for the discount.

"I appreciate the statement," said Sarah Cornell, 40. "It may not be much of a discount, but it makes people talk."

Terie Norelli, the former Democratic speaker of the New Hampshire House of Representatives, said equal pay was not only a matter of fairness but economics; she said paying women the same as men would inject billions of dollars into the national economy.

"This is an opportunity to raise awareness about an issue of significant importance," she said at the bakery.

The pay disparity has persisted despite federal and state laws barring discrimination in how men and women are compensated for the same jobs.

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President Barack Obama has made equal pay a high priority, though the gender pay gap in the United States has narrowed only slightly in the past two years. Obama marked Equal Pay Day by designating a new women's equality monument in Washington, D.C.

Several businesses around the country similarly offered discounts to females on Tuesday, including a coalition of bars and restaurants in Washington, D.C.

Gender and pay equality in the workforce is still decades away in the United States and globally, according to an independent study released in January.