Across the New York sample, women’s products carried higher price tags 42 percent of the time, while men’s products cost more 18 percent of the time.
Price discrimination on the whole tends to be worse for women, though. A 1994 report from the State of California found they pay an annual “gender tax” of $1,351 for the same services rendered to men.
Women spend an average of 25 percent more on haircuts (that require the same amount of labor as a men’s style) and 27 percent more for the laundering of a white cotton shirt, a 2002 DCA study showed.
Another analysis from the University of Central Florida found women’s deodorants typically cost 30 cents more than the same product for men. Wrote the authors,“The only discernible difference was scent.”
The pricing differences extend beyond basic services and goods. Until courts knocked the practice down, insurance companies in Europe charged women more because women live longer. Under the Affordable Care Act, insurance companies in the United States cannot factor gender into cost.
New York City law has banned gender discrimination the pricing of services since 1998. Businesses cannot legally charge more for haircuts or dry cleaning, for example, based on the patron’s sex. They must instead offer gender-neutral rates by labor intensity.
That doesn’t mean local companies always follow the rules. DCA inspectors issued 129 violations for gender pricing of services this year, compared to 118 in 2014.
California and Florida's Miami-Dade County also prohibit selling the same services to men and women at different prices. No federal law, though, requires businesses to set gender-equal prices on products. New York City’s report was released to heighten consumer awareness, Menin said, and to publicly shame companies with glaring disparities.
Of the 24 retailers in the New York City report, the worst gender pricing disparity surfaced at Club Monaco, where women’s clothing cost an average of 28.9 percent more than men’s clothing, according to an independent analysis by economist Ian Ayres. Urban Outfitters trailed with a 24.6 percent gender premium, followed by Levis with 24.3 percent.
The retailers did not respond to the Post's request for comment.
In 1991, Ayres, a professor at Yale Law School, sent men and women to car dealerships across the Chicago area. He learned female testers were charged significantly more than male testers. A white woman was asked to pay a 40 percent higher markup than the male testers, supporting the stereotype that dealers assume women knew less about car values. A black woman was asked to pay a markup three times higher.
Gender equality has improved considerably since Ayres’s paper was published — so why do blatant price disparities persist today? “One contributing factor is profitability,” he said. “You’re pulling an extra dollar out of a certain group of consumers.”
Companies might be exploiting the idea that female shoppers are willing to spend more money than their male counterparts, he said.
Women: Tweet. Facebook. Boycott these companies. Let our economic power speak for all women.