While women are getting paid less than men in the workplace, they are, on average, paying more for products. Therefore, it is financially irresponsible to be a female consumer.
A recent study by the New York City Department of Consumer Affairs surveyed almost 800 products and found, that in 42% of cases, women paid more for the same items as men.
Two Kent State students ventured out to Walmart to compare product prices and discuss the Pink Tax in real time.
Jamie Shell, sophomore Environmental and Conservation Biology major and Zac Breitbach, sophomore English major, agreed to be part of this mini-study.
Shell said she heard about the Pink Tax but had never paid much attention to it.
“I’ve always heard about girls stuff being taxed more, but I never really looked at prices, so I’m definitely excited to see,” Shell said.
In almost all cases, Walmart proved to price their products equally. Breitbach commented on the fair pricing, “It was surprising to see the pricing was mostly fair at Walmart, mostly due to them not really being known as an ethical or moral corporation. I just wish their workers’ wages were fair now.”
Shell agreed, and mentioned that she considers feminine hygiene products more of an issue than gendered products. “I think in general, it’s stuff that women have to get but that men don’t have to get.”
The Pink Tax study does not include the cost a woman will pay in her lifetime for her period. A study conducted by The Huffington Post did the math and calculated that an average woman will spend roughly $18,171 on her period in her lifetime. This number included the cost of essentials like tampons, panty liners, and birth control, but also included what some may consider nonessentials, such as pain relief, chocolate, new underwear due to stains, and acne medication.
Cassandra Pegg-Kirby, the Assistant Director at the Women’s Center, expanded on the Pink Tax and its association with feminine hygiene.
“Women are charged more for products. Women’s hygiene products are taxed, but Viagra is not,” Pegg-Kirby said. “If you aren’t utilizing women’s hygiene products in the way they’re supposed to be, they’re detrimental to your health. People can choose to have sex, but women don’t choose to have their period.”
Pegg-Kirby also noted that services like dry-cleaning and auto repair can be gender-priced. “Women often pay more for car repairs, unless they know what to pay. Maybe we should learn how to negotiate more and we need to show our distaste by not buying these products.”
The wage gap plays a role in the upset of gender pricing, Pegg-Kirby says. “We’re already at the short end of the stick. White women are paid 77 cents per dollar that a man makes, 64 cents for Latino women, and 61 cents for Black women.”
Her advice is to make people aware that the Pink Tax exists and then not buy into it. “I just think it needs to change and the way we can do that is raise awareness. There’s a lot of power in social media. If we put our voices in our wallets, women doing the shopping by default. If we started talking to one another and had some community in our voices, it could make a huge difference.”
Zac Breitbach agreed. “For women trying to avoid the pink tax, I’d advise them to just buy the masculine version of a product if it’s cheaper. It’s usually just the same exact thing with a different scent.”
There is no federal law in the U.S. against charging more for products or services based on gender, but there are state and city laws, but in 1995, California became the first state to ban gender-based price differences for services like hair salons and dry cleaners.
In Ohio, students can use the hashtag #ImNotBuyingThat and write letters to elected officials at the local, state, and federal level asking to ban gender pricing
Examples from NYC Consumer Affairs Study on Gender Pricing
Number of Products