Story & Photo by Julie Archer
What is the pink tax?
Every year, women around the world are paying up to $1,300 more in taxes per year on products made particularly for women. The pink tax is the extra money women are charged for similar products or services men have. This can include razors, deodorant, medicine and dry cleaning services.
“There is an idea from the corporation aspect that women will pay more for these things,” Tara Hall, professor of sociology at Rose State, said. “They think women ‘enjoy shopping’ and clothes.”
Gender Wage Gap
The gender wage gap is the difference of the average pay between men and women. According to payscale.com, women earn almost 78 cents for every dollar earned by men. While this may seem small, when a man is taking home $100,000, a woman doing the same job is taking home $78,000.
“Statistical discrimination is a big issue with [the wage gap],” Hall said. “Employers assume that if a woman is a certain age they are going to be taking off work more because she’s going to have children and take on all of the responsibilities that go with it.”
According to groudnswell.org, in 2000, a New York City trade lawyer named Michael Cone researched gender-based tariffs. When researching shoe import tariffs, Cone discovered men’s sneakers were taxed at 8.5%, while women’s shoes were taxed at 10%. While Cone did more research, he discovered there are more gender price discrepancies.
Because of these findings, Cone decided to sue the government. During this time, over 100 other companies signed on to be co-plaintiffs. Some of these companies include Steve Madden and Urban Outfitters. As of 2014, the U.S. Supreme Court denied the attempts to fight the gender-based tariffs.
There are pricing discrepancies in clothing where women’s clothes cost more than men’s. According to gq.com, a Saint Laurent striped sweater for men sells for $240 less than the striped sweater for women.
“We place a lot of emphasis on how [women] look … part of it is society telling us we need these things in order to be professional and attractive,” Hall said.
In 2009, Janet Floyd, the co-founder of a Manhattan research firm found drycleaning gender discrepancies. She brought two Brooks Brothers oxford shirts, one for men and one for women, to be laundered.
The women’s shirt cost $8.75 while the men’s shirt cost $7 to launder. She called the cleaners to ask about the price difference but they claimed the machine could not handle the delicacy of the women’s shirt, so they dry cleaned it, which cost more.
While doing more research, she found dry cleaning for men and women cost about the same, but for laundering, women pay an average of $4.95 and men paid $2.86.
Although there are some women who are not aware of the pink tax, there are still several women who purchase men’s products over women’s just because of the price.
“I have always bought men’s deodorant because I thought it lasts longer, the cheapest men’s deodorant works better than the most expensive women’s deodorant, which isn’t fair.” Olivia Tarver, a biology major at Rose State, said. “The only thing I do not like about using men’s deodorant is the masculine smell.”
A study from the University of Central Florida discovered women’s deodorant costs 30 cents more than men’s. When manufacturers were asked about the price discrepancies, most of them said the women’s deodorants cost more to manufacture. The differences they claimed were packaging and ingredients. However, research showed the deodorants had the same ingredients with the same amounts.
In the 2010 Consumer Reports, researchers found medications marketed to women cost more. They discovered at Walgreens, Excedrin Complete Menstrual costs 50 cents more than Excedrin Extra Strength, even though they had the same active ingredients with the same ratios.
A tampon tax involves taxation of feminine hygiene products. These are taxed as “luxury items.” According to bbc.com, in France, lawmakers reduced its tax on feminine hygiene products from 20 to 5.5%.
“There are also recent reports of what they call ‘period shaming’ in high schools,” Hall said. “[It targets] girls who don’t have either the time to take the proper breaks to take care of themselves or they don’t have the products.”
Often, when other students find out about a girl going through this, they make fun of her for it.
What to do about it?
Once more people are aware of the pink tax, women can start to purchase the male versions of the products they need.
“When there are options, don’t pay extra for the flowers and the pink and the raspberry smells,” Hall said. “A lot of times in the comparison it is the exact same product, just one specifically targeting women. When you have those options, go for the one that’s a dollar cheaper but doesn’t target women.”
Once companies see that their higher priced women’s products are not selling, this could cause change.