Products marketed to women and girls cost more than the same products meant for boys and men, confirming a long-held suspicion that it costs more to be a woman at the consumer level, Slate is reporting.
According to a new study released by the New York City Department of Consumer Affairs, products cost more for women to the tune of 7 percent on average, and women’s products cost more than men 42 percent of the time. The biggest offenders were shampoo and conditioner; a set (that is, a bottle of each) marketed to women cost an average of $2.71 more than a set marketed toward men.
Other products also showed price discrepancies between the women’s version and the men’s version, according to KTVT (Dallas). For example, a pair of jeans from the same manufacturer cost $88 for women versus $68 for men.
Shopper Charletta Choice told a KTVT reporter that she thought the discrepancy was ridiculous.
“Same material, same make and everything? Why aren’t we paying the same as them?”
Other examples of increasing the price of women’s products are more subtle. For example, a stick of deodorant marketed toward men and one marketed toward women, both from the same manufacturer, cost exactly the same, but the women’s version was smaller.
These price discrepancies extend beyond products for men and women. Products marketed toward girls are often more expensive than products marketed toward boys. A toy guitar marketed to boys cost $34.99, while a Disney princess guitar cost $43.99. A gender-neutral red toy scooter cost $24, while a pink toy scooter (marketed to girls) cost $49. And a gender-neutral green children’s bicycle cost $129, while a pink bicycle (again, marketed to girls) cost $149. The only difference was the coat of paint on the product.
In fact, according to Slate, so prevalent is the practice of marking up the price of a girls’ toy with a coat of pink paint on it that some in the industry have given the practice a name: a “pink tax.”
In the Department of Consumer Affairs report, entitled “From Cradle to Cane: The Cost of Being a Female Consumer,” commissioner Julie Menin writes that these subtle and not-so-subtle price differences can add up thousands of dollars over a woman’s lifetime.
“Over the course of a woman’s life, the financial impact of these gender-based pricing discrepancies is significant. In 1994, the State of California studied the issue of gender-based pricing for services and estimated that women effectively paid an annual ‘gender tax’ of approximately $1,351 for the same services as men. This was more than 20 years ago.”
The study only considers the cost of products at the retail level — it doesn’t even consider other factors that make being a woman more expensive. Women pay more for health insurance, according to Business Insurance; women are charged more for auto repairs, according to Fox Business; and car dealers quote higher prices to women than to men, according to Today.
And, of course, women will, by necessity, have to buy certain products that men will never have to buy, such as birth control pills or feminine hygiene supplies.
Some states have taken steps to try to level the playing field when it comes to these price differences. In New York City, for example, it’s illegal to charge women more for a haircut than for men, or for a dry cleaner to charge more to clean a woman’s blouse than a man’s shirt (they’re both the same garment, after all), according to Salon.
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio has said he intends to “pressure” retailers to stop charging more for products marketed toward women.
[Image via Shutterstock/Tyler Olson]