5 Times Women Pay More Than Men For Nearly The Same Item

If it seems to you that women pay more than men for nearly identical products and services, you are correct. The practice has been dubbed the “woman’s tax” or “gender pricing.”

As if it’s not bad enough that full-time working women earn about 78 percent of what their male counterparts earn, a new study from the New York City Department of Consumer Affairs (DCA) discovered a persistent surcharge for women’s products when they compared nearly 800 items with female and male versions. 

The report, “From Cradle To Cane: The Cost Of Being A Female Consumer,” gives the example of how Radio Flyer has scooters for boys and girls. The boy version is red, and the girl version is pink, but otherwise they are identical, except for the prices: $24.99 for boys, and $49.99 for girls.

As The Washington Post reports:

“A Target spokesperson said the company lowered the price of the pink scooter after the report was released Friday, calling the discrepancy a “system error.” (The retailer blamed the same kind of glitch last year after catching heat for selling black Barbies at more than double the price of white Barbies.)”

But it’s not just toys. In every industry, controlling for quality, the study found that products marketed for girls and women cost on average seven percent more than the male versions of the same products.

Here are five times that females routinely pay more than males for nearly identical products or services. 

1. Toys for girls cost more 55 percent of the time, while boys’ toys cost more 8 percent of the time, according to the DCA report.

Scooters are not the only item singled out in the report. A Target representative was asked about the price differences of other gendered toys, such as the Playmobil pirate ship ($24.99) and the Playmobil fairy queen ship ($37.99). In response, the representative referred to a company statement: “Our competitive shop process ensures that we are competitively priced in local markets. A difference in price can be related to production costs or other factors.” Meaning girls’ toys are more expensive to produce than their male equivalents?

2. Overall, women’s personal care products cost 13 percent more than men’s products, according to the DCA.

Of all the industries analyzed, personal care products came with the highest premium for women. Another factor that the report highlighted: personal care products are purchased at a higher frequency than the other consumer goods included in this study, so the 13 percent difference means that women put out a whole lot more money for these items over the course of a lifetime. But this disparity is an average, and doesn’t tell the whole story. Shampoos and conditioners, for example, cost women 48 percent more, while female razor cartridges cost women around 11 percent more.

3. Children’s clothing showed the least disparity between the genders of all the categories studied in the DCA report, with girls’ clothing costing on average four percent more. Clothing for girls cost more for seven out of nine items. Children’s shirts had the highest discrepancy: prices for girls were 13 percent higher than for boys, an average difference of $1.87 per shirt. The remaining categories, such as onesies, baby shirts and baby shoes, had average differences that were much lower. 

4. The DCA found that women’s clothing cost more 40 percent of the time, while men’s clothing cost more 32 percent of the time. On average, women paid around eight percent more than did men. Here’s how the DCA reported their findings: “In total, one of each average item cost women $307.38 and cost men $285.85, a difference of $21.53. On average, the largest price discrepancy was in shirts, costing women nearly 15 percent more, with an average difference of $3.72 per shirt. Dress shirts came a close second, costing women nearly 13 percent more, with an average difference of $6.65 per shirt.”

5. Dry cleaning is often more expensive for women. The DCA did not specifically study this, but in my personal experience I’ve found women’s items to be more expensive than men’s to dry clean. I have no idea why women’s shirts and pants should cost more to dry clean, but they do. According to a 2011 study cited in Fortune magazine, at that time, the average price to clean a man’s shirt was $2.06, while for a woman’s shirt it was $3.95. 

How can women deal with this issue? Try asking questions about why prices are routinely higher for women than for men. Or just go ahead and buy the male version whenever that makes sense.

 

253 comments

Jerome S
Jerome Sabout a year ago

thanks

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Jim Ven
Jim Vabout a year ago

thanks for sharing.

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Siyus Copetallus
Siyus C2 years ago

Thank you for sharing.

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Amanda M.
Amanda M2 years ago

Kathie Z, I must be some kind of mutant woman, because my wardrobe has stayed constant for YEARS now, and the only time I buy an article of clothing is to replace something that's worn out (sneakers, socks, skivvies, and jeans are the main items replaced because those are part of my everyday wear). And I've been buying my jeans in the men's department at Wal-Mart (one of the few times I set foot in there) because I can get men's jeans that are 100% denim and actually FIT me (how can you screw up inch measurements?) for a mere $9 a pair vs. those stupid denim/spandex combo jeans that last six months (if you're lucky) and cost a MINIMUM of $15 a pair and NEVER stay size-constant from one year to the next!

And Jennifer Manzi, I got you beat on the haircut front-I've been cutting my husband's and daughters' hair as well as my own for years! My hairstyle may not be exactly feminine or modern according to fashionistas, but it's functional and easy to cut. And if I screw up on a spot, so what? It's not like it won't grow back!

I've been buying men's razors for shaving for years now for the same reason. Since the only parts that get shorn are pits and chin (goddamn you, perimenopause!), a dozen blue twin-blade razors last about a year (or until my teenage daughter, who insists on shaving her legs, cleans me out first).

They're gonna stick it to me because I'm a woman, I'll stick it right back to 'em!

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Sarah Hill
Sarah Hill2 years ago

It probably works out to be about the same. Some things cost more for women, some for men.

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Mary Deforest
Mary Deforest2 years ago

I was a loyal customer at a good tire shop. My husband came home from the service, and a new tire blew. He took it and the receipt/guarantee in. This was when computers first came out. No price on tires, they went and handed you a piece of paper with the price, tax. My husband got the tire replaced, all tires balanced. They gave him money back, enough to have a steak lunch, with a little over $20 still left. His father died when he was young, and he thought about that. A toung single mother walked in the shop, and he demanded to know the price. They were ripping her off too. The next week that place had prices on all of the tires, so did the other stores in that chain. They got a lot more business, so the other shops put their prices public too. The women in a city shouldn't need one mad husband that was in Special Forces to get a fair price for all of them. My husband said that he had a little talk with the manager and the district manager. His little talks had strong hints of ending up in the hospital with lots of broken bones. Why can't these greedy vermin think of their wives and daughters being robbed and have fair prices for everyone?

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Kathie Z.
Kathie Z.2 years ago

Although the original price of dome women's clothing may be more, the markdowns are also greater. I can find much better bargains for myself at Macy's One Day Sale than I can for my husband. Women are bigger consumers of clothing than men are and wear what they buy for shorter periods of time than men do. Most men wear what they have until it wears out. Many women turn over their wardrobe every year or two. I've become aware of these patterns in the 14 years I've worked at a thrift store. Our women's department is about four times big as the men's department. Our clothing (as well as other items) are priced the same for both sexes.

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Doris F.
Doris F2 years ago

not fair

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Sarita Elman
Sarita Elman2 years ago

When I complained to a dry cleaner about paying more to clean my slacks than a man does, he had the nerve to tell me that the design of women's clothing is more 'complicated'! What??? We don't have three legs!

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Cheryl F.
Cheryl F2 years ago

Noted some time ago - I buy the men's version of whatever whenever I can and hope the makers of both go to hell.

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