An American study has confirmed something we've long suspected: it really is more expensive to be a woman. And before any tongues start wagging about women who are 'shopaholics' and jokes about us dropping loads of cash in Topshop (let's remember than men are pretty materialistic, too), the cost isn't because of volume of what we're buying. It's that products marketed towards women are just straight-up more expensive.
The study, published by the New York City Department of Consumer Affairs, is aptly named, 'From Cradle To Cane: The Cost of Being A Female Consumer'. The DCA examined products from 35 categories, including personal care, apparel, children's toys and senior health and homecare products. They looked at 800 products from 90 brands that had a clear 'male' and 'female' versions, like a men's or women's T-shirt.
Across all the 35 categories, female products were priced higher than their comparable male products in 30 of them. Across the five of the major industries examined, women’s products were priced higher by an average of 7% - unsuprisingly, personal care products had the biggest differential of 13%.
Anyone who's been in Boots could tell you women's razors and deodorants are often more expensive (ed note. the men's ones are often better as well as cheaper, so we recommend using those), but children's toys seems even more unfair - toys for girls came out at 55% pricier than boys as a whole. Women's clothing costing 40% more than men's is also pretty outrageous - especially when girls' children clothes are costing 26% more too.
The DCA acknowledged that “over the course of a woman’s life, the financial impact of these gender-based pricing disparities is significant.” They also note a 1994 California study on prices for both genders which calculated that women basically paid an annual “gender tax” of approximately $1,351 (approx. £906) for the same services as men. They estimate that women pay thousands of dollars more than men over the course of their live - and we've got a feeling the findings could be pretty similar over here, too.
While there are manufacturing costs to take on board, like women's clothing often being made from more than one type of fabric whereas men's can be more uniform, as the researchers note, prices are set by the retailer and not the manufacturer. Bear in mind we are talking about average, mid-range buys.
And, as the DCA note, “according to experts at the Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT), these costs are not necessarily commensurate with the retail-price differences identified in this study, as the manufacturing cost of an article of clothing is a small fraction of the ultimate retail price.”
The study noted that the inflated price for women then isn't down to manufacturing costs, but that “Price differences are due to business considerations, and because women are generally willing to pay higher prices for their clothing than men, they often are charged more.”
The study didn't look at sports merchandise, but we're guessing there are some disparaties there, too. The 'shrink it and pink it' philosophy for fan merchandise not only results in sub-standard merchandise - it often adds up to pricey choices for women.
Add into the mix that we're still a way away from equal pay for women (Grazia have been campaigning for equal gender pay with our Mind The Pay Gap campaign which has sucessfully lobbied Parliamet - more about that here), our day-to-day purchases being pricier seems doubly unfair.