Pink Tax

pink tax

We all heard about the ‘tampon tax’ abolition, that came into effect in January 2021, but is it still more expensive to be a woman than it is to be a man?

Well, yes, it is.

We’re in an age where the discussion about gender and how people identify is evolving, we’re less about the straight cut lines of being a boy or girl, having explored a more fluid approach to the conversation around gender. The result of this has reduced the hold pink tax has on society, with people becoming a lot more aware of the gender gap, particularly when it comes to spending money, earning money and more. 

But, after 48 years of paying the tampon tax, and 2 decades of campaigning to get where we are today… there is still a lot of work to be done.

What is pink tax?

The pink tax refers to the difference in price for women’s products compared to men’s. This also covers a range of services, living costs and areas in which a woman shells out more than a man, just by being a woman.

Also referred to as ‘gender pricing’ or ‘price discrimination it means that women end up spending a lot more than men when it comes to day to day products and services. From hygiene products through to getting your hair cut, the price difference between ‘gendered’ products and services is vast.

The Gender Pay Gap

I’ll start by mentioning the gender pay gap. Where female workers earn on average 8.9% less than their male counterparts. This gap increases further when we look just at women of colour. Why is it important to mention? Well, whilst it’s significantly more expensive to be a woman, we are also statistically paid less too. Talk about being on the back foot…

The areas in which we overpay include:

Products – Particularly those that are aimed at women and are pink! Think of all the lotions and potions we have to choose from on the shelves, all various shades of pink, peach, purple and violet. The floral patterns, the butterflies, the descriptions saying how this shampoo will be ‘invigorating,’ ‘make our hair glossy,’ ‘we’ll be smooth as a dolphin…’ then look at the male products. They have the same ingredients for the most part and they are a lot cheaper. Check the moisturisers and face washes too!

“On average, women’s products cost 13% more than the equivalent for men. Hair products were the biggest offenders, with versions for women costing 48% more, followed by razor cartridges (11% more for women).”

Monzo

Razors are a prime suspect when it comes to the pink tax. Women’s razors? When you really think about it, the idea of the razor being designed and moulded for a woman sounds ludicrous. And it is! Because it does exactly the same job as a ‘men’s razor’ but instead it is in soft, girlie packaging and is available in a shade of hot pink or ultraviolet… sigh.

“In the last year, we’ve talked about the Pink Tax quite a lot – and it goes much further than just deodorants and face creams. Everything from holiday essentials like travel kits and slip-on sandals to critical Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for construction workers are affected – sometimes by as much as 25%.”

Rift Refunds

Beauty – It’s been found that women spend more on beauty products and treatments – another expense that most men do not feel the need to shell out on. This includes hair cuts, with men getting a much cheaper rate at the barber than women who go to the salon.

“A study by Groupon found that British women spend on average £70,294 on their appearance in their lifetime, on everything from gym memberships to manicures and minor cosmetic procedures. That’s £1,352 a year, or £112.65 each month. Another investigation into haircuts found an average price difference of £16.80 for a basic cut at five UK salon chains. Not all women have more hair than men, but women are generally charged more, regardless of hair length.”

Monzo

Services – And whilst it may not seem like a big deal that women are paying out more for hair cuts or moisturiser – the pink tax issue goes deeper than that. Women are paying more than men for mortgages, car loans, car repairs and getting their businesses off the ground… 

“It isn’t just items you can pick up at the store that women pay more for, either. Women are often charged more for mortgages, car loans, and services like dry cleaning. Women also tend to receive less funding when starting a business. Across many industries, women pay more than men 42 per cent of the time.”

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Why does it exist?

There are a lot of reasons why women may pay more, and it isn’t always intentionally discriminatory – sometimes it is driven by profit and the old view of ‘it’s just the way it’s always been done.’

Why does it matter?

It may seem small – to worry about the cost difference of a woman’s razor vs. a men’s razor, but when you look past the seemingly ‘little’ things you realise that it builds up into a much bigger problem. There is a knock-on effect that is created for women when they are consistently paying out more than their counterparts, when it comes to saving for their future, progressing their careers or businesses and reaching financial security. It is also worth noting that women have on average longer life expectancies than men and earn less over their lifetimes. 

On top of this, women were also more financially affected during the pandemic than men, with childcare resting on their shoulders, many being furloughed or made redundant or going part-time, resulting in further economic inequality.

How to avoid the pink tax

There are a few ways you can be savvier when it comes to spending to avoid the pink tax. The first thing to always do is your research. 

When it comes to products, take a look at the ingredients and compare them to the products marketed at males. Multivitamins, for example, are often marketed at women with a focus on ‘women’s health.’ But taking a look at the small print, or simply asking your GP – you’ll find that you can opt for the cheaper option and be getting an identical product.

As well as comparing the price of a product to the men’s version, get used to shopping around more too. The same product can cost less in a different shop, so it’s always worth doing some comparison shopping before making a purchase.

One thing I often do is scour the shelves of pound land – often selling items such as shampoo and conditioner for a pound versus the usual price of £3/£4 that you find in other supermarkets. Another trick is to check how much product you are getting for your money, comparing it to another, so that you know you’re not paying more for less product.

When it comes to the bigger stuff, like buying a home or a car, it’s about being clued up about how much things should cost on average and have an expectation when it comes to getting quotes or estimates. There is no shame in asking someone you trust that is more knowledgeable than you to assist you in making a decision and checking that you’re getting a good deal. Again, shopping around is a smart move.

“Most importantly, call out companies when you see blatantly gendered products. You can do this by emailing them or taking to social media to make your feelings known. From plastic-free packaging to vegan food, we’ve seen the effect consumer pressure can have. Manufacturers and retailers will only change if they think there’s an appetite for it, so make your voice heard and complain about the Pink Tax wherever you see it.”

Red

Useful links on the gender pay gap

https://www.aauw.org/resources/research/simple-truth/

https://www.ons.gov.uk/employmentandlabourmarket/peopleinwork/earningsandworkinghours/bulletins/genderpaygapintheuk/2021

https://www.closethegap.org.uk/content/gap/

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