What Is The Pink Tax And How Does It Affect Women?

The following is a guest post courtesy The Female Economist:

As surprising and sad as it may sound, women in 2020 are still in a more economically disadvantaged position than men. A prominent example of this would be the gender pay gap where women are paid 85 cents on the dollar for doing the same job as men. Unfortunately, these gender biases are not just limited to the workplace, women are the victims of gender prejudices every single day. When we buy certain products that are specifically targeted towards women, we often pay more than men for the same thing- this extra cost is commonly referred to as the pink tax.

What is the pink tax?

Various items like personal care products, toys and clothing often have the same production costs, regardless of whether it is created for men or women. However, when it comes to marketing the product, female-centric products are often subject to price discrimination- that is a product designed for women costs more than the same product for men.

When looking at an individual product, the difference can be quite subtle. For example, a men’s deodorant can cost $3.79 while a women’s deodorant can cost $3.99. This may not seem like much but the costs tend to add up over time. Another controversial aspect of the pink tax is the tampon tax which is an extra cost women pay for female hygiene products.

The pink tax in numbers

It’s not just women who fall prey to the pink tax, gender pricing is just as prevalent in clothes and toys marketed towards young girls. Studies show that the pink tax can cost women $1,351 per year on average. Just think about how much that adds up to over the span of your life!

There is a bevy of products on the market that are subject to the pink tax. For instance, shampoo for women is priced 48% higher than shampoo for men. As far as the ingredients go, the only visible difference is the scent. When it comes to toys, girl toys are priced 13% higher than for boys. A popular helmet brand sold blue helmets for boys at $14.99 and pink helmets for girls at $27.99.

Shampoo and toys are just a few of the many products that are subject to gender-pricing. Razors, body wash, jeans and even dry cleaning have significant price differences for men and women. On average women pay 7% more for goods and services than men.

So how to stop paying for pink?

So the million-dollar question remains- how do I avoid the pink tax? Unfortunately, there’s still no clear consensus on how one can avoid the pink tax completely. An easy solution would be to buy more gender-neutral products or even those marketed towards men. Shampoos and shaving creams often contain the same ingredients for both men and women.

Another way to fight the pink tax is to take a more proactive stance AKA see something, say something. Charging more for everyday products like razors and shampoos (which are considered essential) is just plain wrong. It is important to call out brands that follow gender discriminatory pricing strategies. In November of 2019, the Ohio State of Representatives passed a bill to remove the tax on female hygiene products- bringing an end to the pink tax on these items. If we stand in unity against the pink tax, we can eradicate it completely- remember every voice counts!

Brands fighting for change

While there is no single solution to the pink tax, many brands have done their part to raise awareness on gender-pricing. Vrinda Gupta, a former Visa employee, created the Sequin card-specifically designed to counteract the pink tax. Historically, women have credit scores that are 9 points lower than men, despite having lower levels of debt. The Sequin card hopes to combat this issue by making ‘credit more approachable.’ The card allows women to earn rewards on visits to the salon, beauty purchases and retail stores. Gupta believes that the program enables women to ‘vote with their dollar.’ There is no confirmed date for the release of the card but you can join the waitlist.

The tampon brand Lola has also been vocal about the pink tax. In June of 2019, the founders launched their ad campaign- Tax Free, Period. The ad featured women like Serena Williams and Karlie Kloss who brought awareness to the discriminatory pricing of female hygiene products. They encouraged viewers to use their voice to bring an end to the pressing issue. A tax on menstrual products is said to cost women more than $150 million each year. Although this price bias affects half the U.S population, nearly 35 states still tax these products.

The discussion on the pink tax is long overdue. While we may love our fruit-scented perfumes, there’s no valid reason why brands need to overcharge us. Moreover, period products are a basic necessity for women and the economics surrounding menstruation is one that needs to be addressed.

Women have taken to social media to voice their opinions on the pink tax with hashtags like #AxThePinkTax #pinktax and #genderpricing. You can join the movement as well.

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