Yep, the ‘Pink Tax’ Still Makes Women Pay More for the Same Stuff

Why does the same white shirt costs more for ladies to dry-clean?
Apr 10, 2015·
Culture and education editor Liz Dwyer has written about race, parenting, and social justice for several national publications. She was previously education editor at Good.

Razors, cologne, moisturizers, and haircuts. Back in 1995, a groundbreaking California study confirmed what many American women already knew: Guys pay less for the same goods and services. Fast-forward 20 years, and the “women’s tax ”or “pink tax” is still draining ladies’ bank accounts. To prove just how pervasive gendered pricing is, the folks over at YouTube channel The Daily Share have created a video that’s sure to make you question why pink razors are more expensive than blue ones.

The clip’s producers, Mike Byhoff and Katie Isaacson, compare, for example, two Neutrogena facial moisturizers. One marketed to men retails for $10.35; the version for women, with the exact same ingredients, costs $11.42. That’s roughly 10 percent more money. Neutrogena told Byhoff and Isaacson that the price differences “are related to a number of factors, including packaging differences, modifications of the formulation that impact the manufacturing process, and the discretion of each retailer.”

That may be true, but the resulting dollar here, dollar there price discrepancy adds up. Sometimes it’s hard to notice how small amounts of money slip through our pockets. It’s harder to ignore, however, the gendered pricing of a haircut. Byhoff and Isaacson found that a guy can get a trim for $28, but a woman will shell out nearly 60 percent more: $44.

Ironically, given American Apparel’s sexual harassment scandals, the experiment found it was one retailer that doesn’t jack up the prices for women. Thanks to unisex pricing, an oxford shirt from the Los Angeles–based clothing manufacturer costs the same no matter who’s buying it. But don’t cheer too loudly: The duo found that the pink tax weasels its way back into the mix when it’s time to dry-clean the garment.

What’s especially sad is that women are already earning less than their male counterparts thanks to the gender pay gap—which means they not only have fewer dollars in their pockets but spend more of them on stuff. After that 1995 study, California officially banned gendered pricing. How much that law is enforced isn’t clear. Still, while it’s easy to hate on California for its smog and traffic, this might be one instance where the rest of the nation should follow the Golden State’s lead.