Pink and purple razors marketed to women cost more than traditionally-male alternatives. Almost-exact garments tend to bear more expensive price tags when they are stocked in the women’s department, while in some states, dry-cleaning for women’s shirts, for instance, is generally pricier than for men’s. This is the “pink tax” at work, and it impacts everything from toys to personal hygiene products.
A long-standing facet of the market, the price variations between countless products based largely on gender is referred to as the "pink tax.” Despite the difference between these non-uniformly-priced products often being limited exclusively to color (i.e., pink and purple for women, blue and green for men), per Newsweek – such price discrepancies are sweeping.
On average, women's products come with an average retail price of 7 percent more than similar products for men, with women paying approximately 8 percent more for adult clothing and 13 percent more for personal care products, a New York Department of Consumer Affairs report found. In its 2015 study, the state government agency revealed that in all but 5 of the 35 product categories it analyzed, products for women – who, on average, are paid 80 cents for every dollar paid to men in the U.S., according to the National Partnership for Women & Families – were priced higher than those for male consumers.
A recent report from the Office of the Attorney General and the Human Rights Commission in Vermont confirmed the Department of Consumer Affairs’ findings, asserting that it independently observed that “women also pay more than men for car purchases and repairs, mortgages, haircuts, and dry cleaning as well as products that include lotions, shampoo and other hair care products,” according to Consumer Reports.
While at least ten states, ranging from New York and Florida to Nevada and Illinois, have taken steps to legally eliminate one specific iteration of the pink tax, the so-called “tampon tax,” which sees states impose a sales tax on tampons and sanitary pads, price inequality abound for many other products in the mark. For example, women were charged more for virtually the same item as men in connection with almost half of the 800 different products reviewed by the Department of Consumer Affairs.
Manufacturers and retailers commonly point to a slew of reasons – from minor differences in production or in inventory – for such price variations, but regardless of the reasons at play, a New York State Senator has had enough. By way of Bill S2679, which was introduced early this year, New York Senator Shelley B. Maye aims to amend New York state general business law to “prohibit any business from charging a price for goods of a substantially similar or like kind on the basis of a person's gender.”
If passed by the New York State Senate, the bill will prohibit gender-based price discrepancies for items from the same brand and with the same functional components that contain “90 percent of the same materials or ingredients.” Retailers found to be flouting the legislation, which is currently making its way through the state legislative process, will face a penalty of a maximum of $250 for the first offense and up to $500 for each subsequent violation. As noted by the Albany-based Times Union, the bill will not, however, “restrict retailers from passing along costs that are set by manufacturer or distributor.”
Regardless of the outcome, the bill, itself, which is the most recent iteration of one initially presented during the Senate’s 2017-2018 session, could have national influence, as states like New York have routinely proven to be at the forefront of legal and social issues, such as a legal ban on racial discrimination based on hairstyles, that tend to jumpstart action in other progressive states.