Ever heard of the “pink tax”? It’s basically the cost of expressing femininity in a largely masculine world.
Findings from a 2018 Government Accountability Office (GAO) report indicates women commonly pay more than men (and experience higher denial rates) for a variety of products services. The pink tax and what the report calls “weaker credit characteristics” are to blame. Before you @ the GOA for that term, keep in mind these characteristics are likely caused by the fact that women tend to earn 20 percent less than men, the report notes.
Read on to see what products men are saving on while women pay up.
1. What is the “Pink Tax?” Before moving forward, let’s be clear about what the Pink Tax is. Insider says that it’s “where women are asked to pay considerable surcharges for what are supposedly the ‘female’ versions of everyday items like toothbrushes, shampoo, and deodorant.” For example, a pack of blue “men” razors might be $4.99 while pink “female” razors are $5.99. [caption id="attachment_28849" align="aligncenter" width="720"] Monica Schipper/GettyImages[/caption] The game Cards Against Humanity lampooned the ridiculousness of the pink tax by creating a version of its card game called “Cards Against Humanity: For Her.” It’s the same game but costs $5 more than the standard game. (The company donates profits to Emily’s List, which helps get more women in government elected.) NEXT: Buying a home might be more difficult for women because of this.
2. Mortgage RatesResearch has found that women pay higher mortgage rates than men do because they often choose lenders by recommendation rather than rate, says Insider. That research also discovered that this is mostly caused by gender discrimination. The publication references is a 2011 study in the Journal of Real Estate Finance and Economics. [caption id="attachment_28850" align="aligncenter" width="720"] Joe Raedle/GettyImages[/caption] The study reads: “Our empirical test confirms that search effort is rewarded in the marketplace, and suggests that gender disparity in mortgage rates may be addressed by policies aimed at improving women’s financial literacy and search skills.” At first glance, this female-identifying writer thinks this explanation minimizes the root of the problem. Don’t take my word for it, however. Read the report yourself! NEXT: Contrary to public knowledge, women actually pay more for this than men do.
3. Auto insuranceSome might think younger men might pay more in car insurance rather than women because they’re more “dangerous” drivers. However, a 2017 study says otherwise. Written by the Consumer Federation of America, the paper finds that most large auto insurance companies charge 40 and 60-year-old women more than men, often more than $100 annually. [caption id="attachment_28875" align="aligncenter" width="720"] BartCo/iStock[/caption] A press release by the Consumer Federation of America says: “Female motorists with perfect driving records often pay significantly more for auto insurance than male drivers with identical driving records and other characteristics the insurers use to price auto insurance.” NEXT: No matter the length, hair care is less expensive for men.
4. Shampoo and conditionerHair care products like shampoo and conditioner marketed towards women cost more, says a 2015 study by New York City’s Department of Consumer Affairs. “From Cradle to Cane: The Cost of Being a Female Consumer” says that women pay 48 percent more than men do for shampoo and conditioner. What’s the difference between male and female hair care products? [caption id="attachment_28876" align="aligncenter" width="720"] Jun Seita/Flickr[/caption] They might smell more “feminine” — perhaps more floral or fruity scents — or come in “ladylike” bottles or colors. Why might women buy more expensive shampoo? The study mentioned in slide three might say women spend the big bucks to maintain their gendered self-identity. NEXT: Women’s clothing is more difficult to dry clean apparently. Guess what that means?
5. Dry cleaningIf you guessed dry cleaning as a woman would cost you more than a man, you’re absolutely correct. On average it costs $2.06 to dry clean a man’s shirt while women’s shirts cost $3.95, says the study in slide three, “The Cost of Doing Femininity.” It quotes an article from Slate that says: [caption id="attachment_28877" align="aligncenter" width="720"] Justin Sullivan/GettyImages[/caption] “It is harder to press a woman’s shirt with equipment designed for men’s shirts.” Guess it makes sense if the machines weren’t made for a particular type of shirt. But why are these dry cleaning machines only made for men in the first place? NEXT: It might cost more to get certain medical care items.
6. Medical items like supports and bracesWomen might pay more than men if they get medical attention for an injury. For medical items like supports and braces, NYC Department of Consumers Affairs found that women pay 15 percent more than men. For their report, “From Cradle to Cane,” the department examined 22 support and braces products. [caption id="attachment_28878" align="aligncenter" width="600"] Quinn Rooney/GettyImages[/caption] For these medical items made for women, they cost $37.17 on average. For men, it was $32.43 on average. That’s about a $4.74 price difference. Some other medical items that cost more for women than men were compression socks and adult diapers. NEXT: Starting a small business as a woman might be harder. Here’s why:
7. Small business creditHere’s what GOA found in terms of differences in applying for small business credit as a woman rather than a man: “Studies we reviewed on small business loans generally did not find differences in interest rates, though some found differences in denial rates and other accessibility issues between female- and male-owned firms.” [caption id="attachment_28880" align="aligncenter" width="720"] Maryland GovPics/Flickr[/caption] Furthermore in their report, “Gender-Related Price Difference for Goods and Services,” GOA noted that white female-owned firms experience more denials for credit in less competitive markets. This was found after analyzing data from 1993, 1998 and 2003 Survey of Small Business Finances. NEXT: Even men with hair similar to women pay less for this service.
8. HaircutsIt might come as no surprise that women’s cuts are more expensive than men’s cuts, right? But what if the male customer has long hair — are they still charged for the men’s cut prices? What if a woman has a pixie cut — are they still charged the inflated women’s price? Take salon Hyde Edwards Salon & Spa in San Diego, California for instance: [caption id="attachment_28881" align="aligncenter" width="720"] Clemson/Flickr[/caption] They charge women $65+ for a haircut and men $45+ for a cut. A study entitled “The Cost of Femininity” says it found a price discrepancy of $0 to $25 for identical haircuts — there is absolutely no reason why there should be price differences for men and women’s cuts if that’s the case! NEXT: Those needing walking canes might be surprised at this price difference.
9. Women’s canesA study named “From Cradle to Cane” found that canes for women cost 12 percent more than men’s on average. That’s puzzling because we imagine canes made for women might be shorter as women are typically physically smaller than men. Therefore, wouldn’t a shorter cane for a shorter person use less material? [caption id="attachment_28882" align="aligncenter" width="600"] Graham Denholm/GettyImages[/caption] It’s not a product like a shampoo or a razor that women could buy a “male” version instead to save money. Women need canes specifically made for them and their height constraints. “From Cradle to Cane” indicated the average cost for men’s canes was $19.66 while women’s were $21.99. NEXT: Daughter needs a backpack for school? It’ll cost you more than the backpack you got for your son.
10. BackpacksBackpacks marketed to young girls and women will look different from their male counterparts. Options for your daughter might include imagery like princesses, ponies, and rainbows and backpacks for boys might have designs with superheroes, monsters and cars. The NYC Department of Consumer Affairs study, “From Cradle to Cane,” found slight price differences. [caption id="attachment_28883" align="aligncenter" width="600"] Andreas Rentz/GettyImages[/caption] It was about a one percent price difference after comparing 20 backpack products. Which isn’t a lot, but it’s still a difference. Why should products that are virtually the same be priced differently? On average, “female” backpacks were $25.99 and “male” backpacks were $25.79. NEXT: This is another expense you might have to pay for your daughter but not your son.
11. Girl toysOne of the biggest price differences found in the NYC Department of Consumer Affairs report “From Cradle to Cane” was in toys for girls. Their industry findings concluded there was an 11 percent difference between girls and boys toys. This was after the researchers examined 20 different products marketed towards boys and girls. [caption id="attachment_28884" align="aligncenter" width="720"] Charles McQuillan/GettyImages[/caption] Those findings belonged to the category of “general toys.” There was a smaller price difference between toys for preschool boys versus girls. Out of 14 products examined, a nine percent price difference was found ($1.80 monetary difference). NEXT: Men and women both use these things — why should one be more expensive than the others?
12. Body washLadies, the shower you take tonight might be more costly than your male counterparts. It was found that women typically pay six percent more for body wash than men do in the NYC Department of Consumer Affairs report “From Cradle to Cane.” The study’s researchers found this out by comparing 18 different body wash products. [caption id="attachment_28885" align="aligncenter" width="720"] Mike Mozart/Flickr[/caption] Out of the 18 various brands of body wash examined, the average cost for products marketed towards women was $5.70. That’s compared with the average cost of body wash marketed towards men — $5.40. It’s a small difference but the extra 30 cents adds up for women over time. NEXT: These modes of transportation can be more expensive for women than men.
13. Bicycles and scootersAfter examining 22 different bicycle and scooter products, the NYC Department of Consumer Affairs determined that the “female” version of these modes of transportation were more expensive than boys.’ There was a six percent price difference noted in their report “From Cradle to Cane.” Again, it’s virtually the same product — why do girls’ cost more? [caption id="attachment_28886" align="aligncenter" width="600"] Mario Micklisch/Flickr[/caption] In their Detailed Industry Findings section, the report says that bikes and scooters for girls cost $86.72 on average. The same items marketed for boys cost on average $81.90. That’s a $4.82 price difference (or a six percent difference) that shouldn’t be there. NEXT: Replacing B.O. with “feminine” scents will cost more.
14. DeodorantLike other personal care products, deodorant marketed towards women also comes at a higher price. The same NYC Department of Consumer Affairs report, “From Cradle to Cane,” examined 20 different deodorant products and determined that on average, women’s deodorant was three percent more expensive than men’s deodorant. The average price for women was $4.91. [caption id="attachment_28887" align="aligncenter" width="720"] Kent/Flickr[/caption] For men, it was on average 16 cents cheaper at $4.75. Three percent pricing difference doesn’t seem like a lot, but then again that does add up. Besides the money issue, why should these products be priced differently in the first place? NEXT: This is the most expensive garment for a woman.
15. ClothingShirts are more expensive for women than they are for men. Ever notice the “women’s fit” shirts costing more than the ones for men? Battiston’s Fabric Care Specialists notes this about women’s shirts: “Blouses can have more elaborate cuts, styles and trims than their male shirt counterparts. Men’s shirts are pretty much always the same shape;” [caption id="attachment_28888" align="aligncenter" width="720"] Chris McGrath/GettyImages[/caption] “Even if they have something a little more complex like epaulets or French cuffs, they’re otherwise identically shaped,” says Battiston’s. Does their complexity in design have to do with the increased expense? From “Cradle to Cane” noted a 15 percent price difference between women and men’s shirts. NEXT: Have a car? It’ll be pricier to maintain it as a woman, says research.
16. Auto repairsIt’s no secret that women are often treated differently when they take their cars to get repaired. At least in this author’s experience, I’ve been quoted insane repair prices and told that “if you were my daughter, I’d make you get these repairs.” Thankfully, my dad was a mechanic so I knew I needed to go to a different auto repair shop. [caption id="attachment_28889" align="aligncenter" width="720"] Daniel Lobo/Flickr[/caption] The GOA’s 2018 report we first mentioned in our introduction says that it found that women were often quoted higher auto repair prices. Especially “if [women] seemed uninformed about the cost of car repair…but the price differences disappeared if the study participant mentioned an expected price.” NEXT: You need these if you’re going to ride that expensive “feminine” scooter or bike.
17. Helmets and paddingIf young girls want to ride bicycles and scooters safely, it’ll also cost more than it will for men. Like the walking cane example we listed in slide number 10, helmets and padding might be things that need to be able to fit people with feminine body shapes and sizes. Girls could try to fit into men’s products. [caption id="attachment_28890" align="aligncenter" width="720"] Nate Davis/Flickr[/caption] However, it might be too big or not fit snugly. The study “From Cradle to Cane” found that out of 20 products examined, the average price for girls’ helmets and padding was $25.79 while their boy counterparts’ products were $22.89 on average. NEXT: You might be better off buying the guys’ version of this personal care product.
18. Shaving creamWomen’s shaving cream has a higher average item price and price per ounce (or count), according to GOA’s 2018 report “Gender-Related Price Difference for Goods and Services.” However, shaving gel is more expensive for men than it is for women. Sounds like they’re the same thing, no? [caption id="attachment_28891" align="aligncenter" width="720"] Beth Scupham/Flickr[/caption] Apparently, shaving gels are more lubricating and recommended for men with sensitive skin, says PrimeandPrep. Shaving cream has more lather than gels do. Again, it doesn’t make sense for virtually the same products to have different prices depending on what gender they’re geared towards. NEXT: Gender-neutral versions of this product are becoming a trend.
19. PerfumeDesigner perfume was found to have price differences between products marketed towards women as opposed to men. However, mass-market (read: cheaper) perfume was found to not show a big price difference. These findings are detailed in the GOA’s report we mention in slide number 20. What’s hopeful is the increasingly popular trend of gender-neutral perfumes. [caption id="attachment_28892" align="aligncenter" width="720"] Paula Satijn/Flickr[/caption] The social consciousness aspect of gendered perfume is a part of the consumers’ interest in these products, beauty analyst Karen Grant told SF Chronicle. Research has shown that sales of premium unisex perfumes has increased 23 percent, says SF Chronicle. NEXT: Women might save money if they buy the male version of these.
20. RazorsWhen the pink tax is brought up, most will bring up the razor as an example of price disparity. A 2011 study “The Cost of Doing Femininity: Gendered Disparities in Pricing of Personal Care Products and Services,” non-disposable razors were one of the products whose prices were studied by researchers. Items made “for women” proved to be pricier. [caption id="attachment_28893" align="aligncenter" width="720"] Kent Horner/GettyImages[/caption] It says that by “Using a ‘woman’s’ razor, or getting a ‘feminine’ haircut, women are able to express themselves as feminine in a largely masculine world.” The study says that this might be why services marketed to men are priced less. Being “masculine” isn’t marketed through grooming and appearance says the study. NEXT: It may cost more for women to get on the road.
21. Auto loansWomen may end up paying more on average for auto loans, the GOA’s 2018 report found. It might seem like that goes against conventional wisdom as the general public tends to believe that women are safer drivers. Data even supports that: “National Highway Traffic Safety Administration confirms that male drivers cause 6.1 million accidents annually,” [caption id="attachment_28931" align="aligncenter" width="600"] Andreas Rentz/GettyImages[/caption] “While women are at fault in 4.4 million crashes per year,” says an article published in Forbes October 2017. Overall, having a car as a woman is going to cost more, whether you’re applying for a loan to get one or paying for insurance to keep it on the road. NEXT: Ladies: Thinking of getting a loan instead of a credit line for your business? Read this first.
22. Small business loansLoans are different from lines of credit (we discuss studies of women’s experience with these in slide number eight) in that loans are a lump sum of cash that’s repaid over a fixed term. Credit is a revolving account that borrowers are allowed to draw, repay and redraw from funds, says Value Penguin. [caption id="attachment_28930" align="aligncenter" width="720"] Rich Fury/GettyImages[/caption] Like small business credit, women weren’t found to have higher interest rates but women experienced higher rates of denial for loans, says GOA’s 2018 study. Another interesting factoid in terms of credit but which might apply to loans: Women may not apply for credit for fear of rejection, says the GOA study. NEXT: Women were found in one study to pay higher rates for these kinds of loans.
23. Subprime loansOne study examined by the GOA for their 2018 report indicated that “women paid higher rates for certain subprime loans.” For those not in the know, subprime loans are “offered to people who do not qualify for a conventional loan, because of factors like low income, a high loan-to-value ratio or poor credit history,” says Lending Tree’s website. [caption id="attachment_28929" align="aligncenter" width="720"] Joe Raedle/GettyImages[/caption] These type of loans usually carry a higher interest rate than a conventional loan, Lending Tree adds. These are usually used to help individuals to buy a home. NEXT: Sure men like to dress up too but women typically feel more pressures from society to dress up more than men do.
24. Personal appearance costsIt’s no secret that women-identifying folks feel the stresses from mainstream media and cultural norms to have immaculate upkeep of their appearances. Sometimes this upkeep is even dictated by workplaces — women are required to wear heels in some offices. Take this story from The Guardian for instance of a woman being sent home on her first day for not wearing heels: [caption id="attachment_28928" align="aligncenter" width="720"] Rachel Murray/GettyImages[/caption] Nicola Thorp, 27, told the Guardian in 2016 she was hired as a temp at PricewaterhouseCoopers but fired her first day after she refused to wear high heels. The story got lots of press and even reached the House of Commons. Men might be required to dress up for work as well but don’t feel the pressures of having to wear makeup, get manicures or don heels. NEXT: This service received some of the most complaints in 2017.
25. Debt collectionDebt collection, credit or consumer reporting and mortgage were the products/services that the Bureau of Consumer Financial Protection (BCFP) received the most consumer complaints regarding in 2017, the GOA reported in their 2018 report. We infer that these complaints are related to gender discrimination. [caption id="attachment_28926" align="aligncenter" width="720"] Matt Cardy/GettyImages[/caption] The BCFP in addition to the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Federal Trade Commission (FTC) “play a role in potentially monitoring or addressing issues of gender-related price differences and have online complaint forms for submission of consumer complaints,” says GOA’s report. NEXT: The average price for this item is $5.53 for women and $5.14 for men.
26. Body spraysThe GOA researched average prices online for various personal care products, including body sprays, from four retailers online. It compared the average prices for products marketed towards women as opposed to those marketed towards men. Prices for women seemed to range from $5.53 to $27.08 for body sprays. For men, it was a lot less. [caption id="attachment_28941" align="aligncenter" width="720"] Dannycas/Wikimedia Commons[/caption] Men’s products in the body spray category ranged from $5.14 to $25.41. Like the perfume, deodorant and other products, it’ll cost you if you want to smell “feminine.” Thankfully, there’s the increasing trend of more gender-neutral scents (see slide number 20), so “scent equality” is on the way! NEXT: Here’s more evidence that it’s pricier to drive as a woman.
27. Auto purchasesWe discuss how women were found to pay more for auto repairs than men were. Guess what? Any other car-related purchases might be more expensive for women as well. GOA found this evidence through the studies it reviewed to put together its 2018 report on price discrimination. (See slide number eight for a link to the report.) [caption id="attachment_28939" align="aligncenter" width="720"] Pascal Rondeau/GettyImages[/caption] “The 2001 study we reviewed on auto purchases found that though women paid higher prices than men for car purchases on average, these differences declined when cars were purchased online,” says GOA’s 2018 report. NEXT: Viagra is exempt from sales tax but this important product used by many women isn’t exempt.
28. Menstrual products aren’t exempt from sales tax but Viagra is“Is pink a luxury color?” asked Pascale Boistard, France’s State Secretary for Women’s Rights, on Twitter in 2014. Apparently, really important products that those with uteruses use every month — tampons and pads — are considered “luxury products” by many manufacturers. This slide isn’t about gendered prices but rather undue financial burdens on some of our population. [caption id="attachment_28940" align="aligncenter" width="720"] Chris Hondros/GettyImages[/caption] Since they’re considered “luxury,” they’re not exempt from sales tax like ChapStick, Viagra and dandruff shampoo are. Nine states in the United States have exempted menstrual products from sales tax and seven other states introduced legislation to do the same, said NPR in 2018. NEXT: There are communities of people that struggle financially more than cisgendered white women.
29. Price differences are even greater if you’re in these communitiesPart of a minority community? Get ready to pay up. Nancy Podcast from WNYC, a show about queer identity, recently detailed money struggles that are unique to the LGBTQ+ community. The hosts Kathy Tu and Tobin Low discussed the difficulties and higher costs associated with retiring, getting healthcare and having children as someone who doesn’t identify as a straight, cisgendered individual. [caption id="attachment_28943" align="aligncenter" width="720"] Yana Paskova/GettyImages[/caption] True, women do get denied for services more than men. But Black women often experience higher denial rates than white women. Take this story from the podcast Reveal from the Center for Investigative Reporting for instance: Reveal published a story uncovering that Black women have higher denial rates for mortgages and often get treated differently by mortgage brokers. NEXT: Here’s how many consumer complaints these government departments receive regarding gender discrimination.
30. Consumer complaintsThe Bureau of Consumer Financial Protection (BCFP), Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and Federal Trade Commission (FTC) said they have received the most gender-based consumer complaints for mortgages, debt collection and credit or consumer reporting, according to GOA’s 2018 report. However, there was a limited amount of complaints regarding gender-related prices. [caption id="attachment_28946" align="aligncenter" width="720"] Marc Nozell/Flickr[/caption] “The agencies provide general consumer education resources on discrimination and consumer awareness,” says the GOA’s report. However, given the limited consumer concern, they have not identified a need to incorporate additional materials specific to gender-related price differences into their existing consumer education resources.” Hopefully, these government agencies will start educating consumers — and manufacturers — on the harm that the pink tax does.]]>
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