Gender-based Price Discrimination

The Pink Tax refers to the extra cost added to goods that are targeted towards women. Named for the color traditionally used to market products to women, the Pink Tax primarily affects personal hygienic products like razors, hair products, and other beauty products. While these products don’t need to be gendered, marketers tend to target these products based on gender and upcharge women for similar or the same products. Brands have also been known to limit the product size for women in a strategy called ‘pink it or shrink it’. When analyzing products such as deodorant, razors, body wash, and shaving cream, women pay on average 13% more for comparable products. For example women’s shampoo and conditioner costs on average $8.34 while men’s shampoo and conditioner costs on average $5.63.  

Even more troubling is the sales tax which is placed on feminine hygiene products such as tampons and pads. Currently 27 out of 50 states categorize feminine hygiene products as “unnecessary” and therefore they are subject to sales tax. These states profit an estimated $120 million annually off of feminine hygiene products. Thankfully, as of April 2020, Washington state has made laws exempting period products from sales tax. While the tax on feminine hygiene products is a real tax versus the pink tax which is a label for a marketing ploy, both serve as examples of how women face pricing descrimination. 

Gender-based price discrimination is particularly concerning when considering that women are still paid on average $0.82 for each dollar a man makes. In 2020, New York city took action to end gender-based price discrimination through “prohibiting charging different prices for goods or services that are “substantially similar” but are marketed to different genders.” My hope is that one day Washington will follow New York’s lead and outlaw inequitable pricing.

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