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What is the Pink Tax? Examples & Why Women Pay More Than Men

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In 2020, there’s no excuse for not paying attention to women’s rights. Political movements all over the United States are standing up for women, stating that they demand equal rights for all sexes. Given the social pressure involved with women’s rights, it’s surprising to see how many corporates and business owners don’t seem to care.

Have you ever had to pay “the pink tax?” We know what you’re thinking; you don’t remember the IRS issuing you anything about this type of tax. The pink tax refers to the extra amount that most women have to pay when purchasing goods and services.

A great example of the pink tax is when you take your car in for a service. The mechanic might assume that most women haven’t the first clue about what went wrong with their vehicle. They also know that most women don’t know how much repairs cost.

Therefore, they take it upon themselves to load your invoice with additional charges of parts and labor. The kicker is that they wouldn’t do it to a man that might know what’s going on and protest.

There are plenty of other examples where you might be paying the pink tax and not even be aware of it. Dry cleaning services, personal care products, and car sales are all examples of other areas where you might be paying this unfair toll.

It might sound silly that there are retailers and service providers out there that are offering price tiers for men and women, but they do exist.

Recent research shows that women are paying, on average, 42% more than men, amounting to additional expenses of $1,351 more per year, on average. That’s an additional $1,351 that could be going to good use in a retirement fund.

How Do You Stop Paying the Pink Tax?

It might surprise you to learn that the government is even in on the pink tax. The regulators consider pads and tampons as luxury items, loading up the sales tax at the store. We’re certain that you would agree that periods are nothing of a luxury. Charging extra for these essential items is nothing short of extortion.

However, recently, it seems that some retailers are starting to shift their perception about the pink tax. Some retailers are standing up for women’s consumer rights and the unfair pricing practices used by other retailers.

The pink tax is another way the government is grabbing every penny they can from consumers. They know that women can’t live without these items, and they decide to take advantage of the situation. You don’t see the pink tax on unisex items like shaving gel, so why is it so prevalent in women’s essentials?

Why are Women Paying More than Men?

Still not convinced that women are paying more for products and services than men? We get it; it’s a hard fact to adjust to your thinking.

However, as more evidence, we would like to point you to the survey completed by the New York City Department of Consumer Affairs.

This report compared the pricing on over 800-consumer items to look for discrepancies that validate the pink tax. The results will shock you.

Download the report here (PDF)
From Cradle to Cane: The Cost of Being a Female Consumer

Those products suitable for girls or women cost, on average, 7% more than the same products for boys and men.

  • 7% extra for children’s toys and accessories
  • 4% extra for children’s shoes and clothing
  • 8% extra for adult’s clothing
  • 13% extra for female personal care products
  • 8% extra for health care products for women seniors

Let’s unpack these figures, and see who the culprits are that are benefiting from the pink tax.


In the research by the New York City Department of Consumer Affairs, Old Navy was a standout culprit of implementing the pink tax.

When reviewing the pricing on the range of plus-sized women’s jeans, the report found that there is a $12-15 difference when compared to the standard jeans sizes. However, this discrepancy was not the same for plus-sized jeans for men and boys.

The owners of the Old Navy brand, GAP, released a statement in the wake of the report, stating that the additional cost involved with the pricing was due to the extensive work the design team puts into designing the right jeans for women. Apparently, they use different designers that charge more, increasing the costs of the plus-sized jeans for women – sounds like hogwash to us.

Women’s clothing cost more than men’s in six of seven categories
Women’s clothing cost more than men’s in six of seven categories

In the statement, the GAP states that the designers include curve-enhancing features, such as that amazing four-way stretch material and contoured waistbands that cost a fortune to use – yeah, right.

This response seems like a bit of a joke, especially when it comes from a company that benefits from third-world slave labor for manufacturing its clothing. Old Navy is not exactly renowned for its high-quality clothing and trend, stylish designs. It’s more a place you go when you’re looking for rags to wear around the house that don’t cost a fortune.

Wait, there’s more.

The report also shows that women’s clothing was more expensive than men’s clothing in six out of seven categories. The only clothing item that costs more for men was underwear, with a 27% premium over women’s underwear.

However, when we consider the amount of material involved in a pair of men’s drawers, compared with women’s panties, it’s easy to see why there’s a difference in the pricing.

The category with women’s clothing that had the most significant discrepancy in pricing was with women’s shirts. On average, women’s shirts were 15% more expensive than men’s shirts from the same brand.

Dry Cleaning

By now, you should be reeling from the evidence that there really is a pink tax. However, that’s only on one category –clothing. Let’s look into another industry that takes advantage of women. Dry cleaners are notorious for charging women more than men for the same service.

At most dry cleaners, the average cost of dry cleaning a men’s shirt was $2.86. However, women could expect to pay an average of $4.95 for the same service at the same dry cleaner – that’s utter nonsense.

You can expect the price difference to be prevalent in every other clothing item that you want the dry cleaner to clean. It’s a shame that this industry charges women more – maybe it’s time to break out the old ironing board.

Self-Care Skin and Beauty Products

The chances are that as a self-conscious woman, you care about your appearance. Research from Skin Store shows that the average American woman spends more than $300,000 on cosmetics in her lifetime – that’s a significant chunk of change to keep you looking your best.

Razors, shaving cream, moisturizer, deodorant, cleansers, lotions, and other beauty products are all subject to the pink tax by retailers and the government. One of the easiest ways to circumvent this pink tax, I to buy the men’s stuff instead. Items like men’s razors, shaving cream, and some moisturizers are all cheaper than their counterparts for women.

Save yourself a bundle and buy the men’s stuff wherever you can. There are plenty of shaving creams and gels that smell fresh without leaving a manly scent on your skin. Most women’s creams come scented, but you can make some yourself using an unscented men’s cream and a few drops of your favorite essential oils.

products costing, on average, 13 percent more than personal care products for men.
Women’s products costing 13 percent more than personal care products for men

Research also shows that women spend more than $3,000 during their lifetime of personal items like tampons and pads. A journalist for the Guardian newspaper, Jessica Valenti, wrote a piece stating that the government should supply these essential women’s items for free to the public, or at least drop the sales tax on the products.

However, instead of supporting her claim, the public turned around with a backlash that makes you think they musty enjoy paying taxes on these types of items. Considering your medical insurance will cover Viagra for your man’s impotence problems, you would think they could cover the cost of pads or tampons.

However, the government views paying for tampons as a first-world problem. They think that you are lucky enough to have access to these types of personal items, so you should have to pay for them.

Children’s Toys

One of the areas where the pink tax shouts out at consumers is with children’s toys. It seems that the pink tax starts a birth, and it doesn’t get any better as we age. A study researched the pricing comparisons between girls and boy’s toys, and the findings were infuriating.

On average, across six product categories for boys and girls, the girl’s toys were more expensive than those for boys. When comparing the price of skateboarding pads for girls and boys, the pads for girls were a staggering 13% higher than those for boys.

It doesn’t stop there, action figures are also higher for girls, and the cost of girl-designed toddle toys were also more expensive. If you’re having a baby girl in the future, then you can expect to pay more at the retailer when checking out with your children’s toys.

On average, children’s toys and accessories cost girls 7 percent more than boys.
On average, children’s toys and accessories cost girls 7 percent more than boys.

It seems that anything colored pink costs you more at the till. A pink kids bike for beginners sold at Target was retailing for $80, while the boy’s version was retailing for $64 – Are Target trying to make it difficult for girls to learn how to ride a bicycle?

The company, Boomerang Commerce, completed a study of the price differences in girls and boys toys between six online retailers, including Amazon, Target, Wal-Mart, JCPenney, Macy’s, and Bloomingdales.

They analyzed the difference in goods colored pink, and the results show that the pink item was more expensive than the non-pink item every time. Pricing for pink items can be anywhere between 2 to 15% higher than the non-pink item.

Car Repairs and Servicing

We know that we already went over how much repair agents can rip off women when taking their car in for a service. However, the numbers involved might frighten you. A Northwestern study shows men and women calling into various randomly-selected repair shops in New York, asking for a repair job to their vehicle.

The study subjects were all calling in for the same repair job – to replace the car’s radiator. Women who sounded clueless about the cost of the job over the phone received an average replacement cost of $406 for the job, whereas men received an average quote price of $383. That’s a staggering discrepancy of nearly 10% in the pricing of the replacement.

Buying a Car New vs Used:
Buying a Car New vs Used: Which is the Better Financial Decision?

A study from the New York City Department of Consumer Affairs shows that women who bought used vehicles were twice as likely to receive an overvalued price. The study found that men received favorable pricing on the same job, more than 50% of the time when purchasing the same make and model of car.

Therefore, if you’re a woman trying to circumvent the pink tax, it pays to get quotes for repair jobs and new car deals. It’s a sad reality that there are some businesses out there looking to take advantage of women, but it happens. All you can do is be aware of the pink tax, and make provisions to circumvent it wherever you can go in your life.

Is It Possible to Avoid the Pink Tax?

It was a long time coming, but the Affordable Care Act now makes it illegal for insurance companies to charge men and women different prices for the same medical care and treatment. Another win from the Act is that insurance companies must also cover the cost of birth control as well.

In 1996, the state of California was the first to pass a discrimination pricing law. As a result, businesses that charge women more face a fine of up to $1,000. However, we don’t see any government body enforcing the law, and our attempts to find an online listing of anyone held to account yielded no results.

As mentioned, you can offset many of the pink taxes by buying men’s products instead of women’s personal care products. Bring a male friend with you to the dealership when purchasing a new car, or have them call into service shops when getting a quote for repairs.

If you do find yourself a victim of the pink tax, don’t hesitate to put the company on blast on your social channels. By speaking up, you could potentially start a movement that inspires change.


Oliver Dale is Editor-in-Chief of MoneyCheck and founder of Kooc Media Ltd, A UK-Based Online Publishing company. A Technology Entrepreneur with over 15 years of professional experience in Investing and UK Business.His writing has been quoted by Nasdaq, Dow Jones, Investopedia, The New Yorker, Forbes, Techcrunch & More.He built Money Check to bring the highest level of education about personal finance to the general public with clear and unbiased