Step away from the pink razors, the sweet smelling shaving cream and the pink and red toys, ladies. Seems like we’ve been getting ripped off.
A new study by the New York City Department of Consumer Affairs has found that products that come in both male and female versions will most often cost more for the female version.
The study compared 800 of these product pairs and found that there is a persistent and often significant surcharge on the products that are packaged for women. The products studied were practically identical except for the gender (see: pink) packaging that the product came in.
On average, the products marketed towards women cost an astounding 7% more than similar products aimed at men.
DCA Commissioner Julie Menin, who was responsible for launching the investigation, says that these numbers illuminate an under-the-radar form of gender discrimination.
“It’s a double whammy,” Menin said, “and it’s not just happening in New York. You see in the aisles the issue is clearly applicable to consumers across the country.”
Just take a look at the personal care items that we by. Women pay, on average, 48% more for items like shampoo, conditioner and other hair products and 11% more on their razors. For example, the Schick Hydro 5 cartridge (aimed towards men) costs $14.99 while the sister product, Schick Hydro Silk (a purple version) costs $18.49.
And while it’s easy to point to the razors, shampoos and other personal care items, the bigger culprit is children’s toys, sadly.
At Target, a Radio Flyer scooter comes in red for the boys and pink for the girls. They are identical except for one big difference—the red scooter retails for $24.99 USD, while the pink scooter comparatively breaks the bank at $49.99 USD.
What? WHAT? A 50% increase? I doubt the small amount of white paint needed to turn the red scooter pink actually costs that much.
And sadly, it’s not just this one scooter (Target attributed the price difference to a “system error”). There are many other children’s products where the price gap is clear:
- Raskullz shark helmet ($14.99) and the Raskullz unicorn helmet ($27.99)
- Playmobil pirate ship ($24.99) and the Playmobil fairy queen ship ($37.99)
When we first started talking about this study at UrbanMoms HQ, the first thing we all mentioned was getting our hair cut. It always seems to cost a small fortune even if all you are doing is getting a basic trim. Well it seems that women actually do get the short end of the stick—we pay 25% more than men.
But the one that really, really boils my blood comes down to nothing more than a plain, white cotton shirt. According to the study, women pay 27% more for the laundering of a white cotton shirt.
WHAT? Can you see the steam coming out of my ears? What could possibly make laundering a man’s shirt so much easier than a woman’s? Nothing, that’s what!
It’s interesting to note that this kind of gendered pricing is illegal. And Menin says we should take matters into our own hands by publically shaming the companies that have such glaring price disparities.
But even with this public shaming, gendered pricing isn’t going away any time soon.
Ian Ayres, a professor at Yale Law School, lays it out pretty clearly—“One contributing factor is profitability,” he said. “You’re pulling an extra dollar out of a certain group of consumers.”
They are making an extra buck off us, and they can claim that the female version of a product is a “specialty product” to save their own butts.
So now what do we do, as women?
Well, my suggestion would be to foster of love of pirates and sharks in your daughters and say bye-bye to your favourite pink razor… because as long as people buy the marked-up gendered products, the companies will continue to make them.