You probably see this every time you go shopping for toiletries: a box of women’s razor cartridges is more expensive than a similar box of men’s razor cartridges.
An investigation by the New York City Department of Consumer Affairs (DCA) compared 800 identical products with female and male versions and found that the products were virtually the same aside from the gender-specific packaging.
The group discovered a persistent surcharge for women consumers. On average, items marketed to girls and women cost 7% more than the exact same products sold for boys and men.
DCA Commissioner Julie Menin, who initiated the investigation, told the Washington Post that the numbers reveal a blatant form of gender discrimination. Adding to injury is the gender wage gap that sees the average woman in the United States earning about 79 cents for every dollar a man gets.
She said that the issues are a double whammy and that the pricing differences are “clearly applicable to consumers across the country.”
The DCA research team checked the most common items with price disparities including toys, children’s clothing, adult apparel, personal care products and home goods. They found that the widest pricing discrepancy exists in hair products; for the same products, women, on average, paid 48% more for goods like shampoo, conditioner and gel.
Ravi Dhar, the director of the Center for Customer Insights at the Yale School of Management, told the Washington Post that the pricing difference exists because of our perception of “women’s” products.
“Many men’s products are not seen as men’s products. They might just be seen as products in the category,” he said.
That makes the “pink” version seem like a sort of specialty product.
“People see a greater fit between the product and their tastes and may be willing to pay more,” Dhar said.