Here’s Why You Should ALWAYS Buy The Men’s Version Of Most Things

Image by Health Gauge, available under a Creative Commons 2.0 Attribution-Sharealike license.
Image by Health Gauge, available under a Creative Commons 2.0 Attribution-Sharealike license.

You don’t believe women face more challenges than men? Well, try this on for size: a brand-spankin’-new study by the NYC Dept of Consumer Affairs has concluded that women pay, on average, $1,351 more than men per year on consumer products!

The study compared 800 products for which there were a similar men’s and women’s version by the same brand. The findings are stark: women and girls pay more a whopping 42% of the time.

pricing disparity
From the NYC Dept of Consumer Affairs study.

Before I continue, I want to address a common misperception used to discount these types of studies and discussions. This comparison only applies to products that are marketed to both genders. Whenever I discuss this in a group, I will inevitably hear someone pipe up with, “Of course women pay more! They have to buy makeup, and they have more haircare stuff.” (These are usually the same people who deny the gender wage gap, but that’s a different discussion.)

Makeup and vaginal-care products were not considered in this study, although it would be interesting to examine the “women-only” products, and the price-gauging that goes on with those as well. But I digress.

This sort of gender-biased pricing starts early: girls’ clothing cost four percent more, and girls’ toys were inflated by seven percent.

A stark example the study used was Target’s pricing of the Radio Flyer “My 1st Scooter.” The red “Sport” model was priced at a modest $24.99, while the “Pink Sparkle” version was sitting pretty at an inflated $49.99. Double the price of the sport model.

The most whopping disparity, predictably, is the area of personal care products. The study found that women’s products cost 13 percent more than men’s. So next time you’re in the drug store, it may be better for your wallet to pass by the pretty bottles of shampoo with pictures of flowers and curliqued script, in favor of the ones with spartan design and block text.

So what can a consumer do to fight against sexist marketing and pricing? The first thing you can do is to stop buying overpriced pink merchandise. Take a couple of extra minutes to peruse the whole aisle in the store, instead of just being drawn to the section with all the pretty items. When there is a product (such as a supplement) with the word “Women” in the name, look at the ingredients and find a non-gendered version with the same ingredients.

For kids’ stuff, consider buying second-hand at a thrift store, where stuff tends not to be divided by gender as much. If you are buying online, don’t use the gender search for items. (For example, if you are looking for a scooter, search for “scooter,” rather than “girls scooter.”) This tells the stores they can take their gender-divided website and shove it. When a store or website is divided by gender, an ancilliary problem that that creates is that it treats the “boy” items as normal, and the “girl” items as outside the norm.

You could argue that I’m making a big deal out of a small disparity. But this is really part of a larger problem: when a manufacturer or retailer think that women and girls should and will pay more for buying items made for women and girls, that’s a big problem. And the solution is to stop playing their game.