By Morgan Donnelly
A woman’s routine for getting ready can be a process because of all the products involved. But when all is said and done, it costs a lot; not because of the number of products used, but because, on average, women pay more for products than men, even when they’re the exact same product.
A 2016 report from the Congressional joint economic committee states that 42% of the time, the exact same product is more expensive when branded for women than when it’s branded for men.
“When you have a product that is actually the same, you are charging a woman more for it than you do a man, that is clear discrimination,” said New York Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney.
Congresswoman Maloney helped write the 2016 report and is currently working on legislation to address this issue, which has come to be known as the ‘pink tax.’
“It’s a double whammy for women, because it is a documented disparity, ” said Congresswoman Maloney. “It is much more and totally unfair”.
We put the idea to the test ourselves by comparing prices of several commonly used products from four local stores and one online retailer.
Take Dove body washes, for example. The Dove Mens Plus Care, on average, costs $5.23, and the women’s costs $5.39. Even Degree Motion Sense deodorant was more expensive for women ($4.29) than men ($3.75), despite having the same ingredients.
People we spoke with say they already knew about the alleged Pink Tax.
“I do buy the men’s products, because they are cheaper,” said Taylor Dalton.
“All the way across the board, they pay more,” said Thomas Marchese
The price disparities don’t end with retail products though. According to a 2011 study published in the Journal of Real Estate Finance and Economics, women tend to pay .4% more for mortgage rates, and that can add up. Congresswoman Maloney says the Affordable Care Act did address insurance differences between women and men, which states it is discrimination to charge women more than men for health insurance.
“Why do I have to pay more because it is marketed to me?” asked Dalton.
“Why should someone pay more for the exact same thing?” agreed Marchese.
We reached out to Unilever, which makes several popular brands, including Dove, Suave and Degree, about the price difference. In a statement sent to WHSV, a spokesperson wrote “Retailers set the prices at which they sell our products. We provide suggested retail prices, which may vary between products due to different technologies and formulations. When the technologies and formulations are comparable, we suggest retail prices at parity for men’s and women’s options. Promotions can also affect pricing.”
So what can be done? Congresswoman Maloney says it boils down to transparency before legislation can be written and passed.
“You need data on it. We have the census looking at pay disparity between men and women. They’re not looking at the pay disparity on products”.