From baby products to products for seniors, the agency compared nearly 800 items from 90 different brands with “clear male and female versions.” The items were selected from 35 different categories and prices were compared at two dozen New York City retailers, both online and in stores. Only products that had similar male and female versions and were closest in branding, ingredients, appearance, textile, construction and/or marketing were included in the study.
The results? In all but five of the 35 product categories reviewed, women’s products were priced higher than those for men. On average they found that women’s products cost 7% more than similar products for men, and that women pay more than men 42% of the time.
“Not only are women being paid less than men, on average, they are also being charged more for basic goods and have to pay for these goods with that lesser salary. We are calling on retailers to re-evaluate their gender-based discriminatory pricing practices and create an equal marketplace for both men and women,” said Julie Menin, Commissioner of the New York City Department of Consumer Affairs.
While the report doesn’t estimate an annual financial impact, it does offer evidence that the financial impact of gender-based pricing is significant, really significant.
This isn’t a problem unique to New York, you can see these pricing discrepancies in store aisles across the country, and while several states have laws in place that protect consumers from price discrimination for services, there are no similar laws anywhere regarding gender pricing of goods, and it’s unlikely that there will ever be one.
So what’s the solution? Consumer pressure. It’s time to stand up and speak out. To raise awareness, the department is encouraging consumers to share examples of gender pricing and fair pricing on social media using the hashtag #genderpricing.