By Commissioner Julie Menin
It has been nearly 100 years since women have had the right to vote. However, it is no secret that women are still being discriminated against in our country. According to the United States Census Bureau’s most recent American Community Survey, women across the nation earn roughly three-quarters of what men earn. This information is startling, but it’s unfortunately not a new phenomenon, and even with the spotlight on it, it’s not changing as quickly as it should.
The gender gap is not just a difference in wages between men and women. As consumers, we see an even more obvious gender gap every single day: the discrepancy in the price of goods marketed towards women compared to the price of the same goods marketed towards men.
Gender inequality is at the center of the de Blasio Administration’s fight against inequality across New York City’s five boroughs. And the Department of Consumer Affairs, where I serve as commissioner, just released a report, “From Cradle to Cane: The Cost of Being a Female Consumer,” on the systemic difference in the prices of goods for women versus those for men.
Our study looks at personal care items, clothing (both adult and children), toys and home health care products for seniors. Like with wages, we found a gap in the price of products for women versus men:
The average price for all goods analyzed was 7% higher for women than men across these various product types.
The largest price discrepancy was in haircare, where products for women were more than 45% more expensive than for men, with an average difference of $2.71 per set of shampoo and conditioner.
We looked at two children’s scooters of the same brand and model; one was red and one was pink. The red scooter was labeled as a “sports scooter” with a price of $24.99, while the pink scooter was labeled as a “girl’s scooter” with a price of $49.99, double the price.
In 1994, the State of California studied the issue of gender-based pricing for services and estimated that women effectively paid an annual “gender tax” of approximately $1,351 for the same services as men. This was more than 20 years ago. While DCA’s study does not estimate an annual financial impact, its findings suggest women are paying thousands of dollars more over the course of their lives to purchase the same or similar products as men.
In our country, women are paid less than men and then are charged more for basic goods which they have to pay for with that lesser salary. The City of New York is calling on retailers to re-evaluate their gender pricing practices and create an equal marketplace for men and women. Consumers should also be wary of these gender-based discriminatory practices and think twice before automatically buying the “female version” of any product. A red scooter is just as good as a pink one, color does not change value. We need to stop paying higher prices for being a woman.