As if having their body parts and body functions mocked by pigs like Donald Trump isn’t bad enough, just being a woman in America also comes with a high financial cost. And it isn’t just the 21 percent wage gap between women and men, either. It’s the deliberately higher cost of goods marketed to women.
A first-of-its-kind study, From Cradle to Cane, The Cost of Being A Female Consumer, released by the New York City Department of Consumer Affairs, shows a consistent price discrepancy in consumer goods marketed to women as opposed to nearly identical goods marketed to men.
The Agency compared nearly 800 products with clear male and female versions from more than 90 brands sold at two dozen New York City retailers, both online and in stores.
Findings On average, across all five industries, DCA found that women’s products cost 7 percent more than similar products for men. Specifically:
- 7 percent more for toys and accessories
- 4 percent more for children’s clothing
- 8 percent more for adult clothing
- 13 percent more for personal care products
- 8 percent more for senior/home health care products
The higher cost for women’s items extends to all ages: a scooter marketed to little boys goes for $24.99 while an identical scooter (except for its pink color) sells for $49.99. Schick Hydro-Silk razor cartridges for women? $18.99. Schick Hydro-5 cartridges for men? $14.99. Men’s jeans? $68. Identical women’s jeans? $88.00. Personal services such as dry cleaning and haircuts are also consistently more expensive, as most women already know.
Women spend an average of 25 percent more on haircuts (that require the same amount of labor as a men’s style) and 27 percent more for the laundering of a white cotton shirt, a 2002 DCA study showed.
Over the course of a woman’s life, the financial impact of these gender-based pricing disparities is substantial: overall, women pay more for essentially the same product as men 42% of the time.
In 1994, the State of California studied the issue of gender-based pricing of services and estimated that women effectively paid an annual “gender tax” of approximately $1,351 for the same services as men. While DCA’s study does not estimate an annual financial impact of gender pricing for goods, the findings of this study suggest women are paying thousands of dollars more over the course of their lives to purchase similar products as men.
The study acknowledges that in some cases there are legitimate drivers responsible for the varying costs between men’s goods and women’s goods, such as “specialized” materials and ingredients. It’s important to remember, however, that these are choices made by the manufacturers and passed along to women. Women have no choice in the matter, and as a result have to accept the added costs for whatever goods the manufacturer makes. Last year the New York Times examined this phenomenon in the context of a French supermarket chain, labeling it the “pink tax” and noting that it extended to American products such as over the counter drugs and personal care items:
At Walgreens, for example, Excedrin Complete Menstrual cost 50 cents more than Excedrin Extra Strength, even though both contained the same ingredients in the same quantities. In 2011, researchers at the University of Central Florida found that women paid more
for deodorants, razors and body spray sold at national retailers.
New York is one of few states that prohibit gender-based discrimination in pricing, which is why the study by its Consumer Affairs department is significant (Despite these laws there were 105 violations recorded in 2015). There are no Federal laws against it. As a result, women continue to pay more for the same products as men, all throughout their lives.