Pink Tax: The Hidden Price Women Pay

Maragatha Vadivu

Women constantly face inequality across aspects of our lives. From our personal lives to the workplace we are constantly facing biases, adding a layer of challenges in the journey to achieve our goals. Sometimes, these biases are so deeply embedded in our day-to-day lives that we hardly notice them. For example, have you ever stopped to consider the price tag of women’s products? In particular, have you noticed that similar products that are branded ‘for men’ have lower prices? This gender-based pricing strategy is known as the ‘Pink Tax', where products for women are much more expensive than those for men.

Illustration by Carolina Diaz

Brands create and maintain this pricing strategy by using pink and purple packaging shades or fruity and floral scents; emphasising that these products are ‘just for us’. A 2015 gender-pricing study found that products for women were priced an average of 7 times higher than products for men. The pink tax is the result of society's expectations that women are expected to be held to a higher standard with regard to how we present ourselves. According to Jeanne Sun, General Manager for Inclusive Investing at JP Morgan, women spend an average of $1300/year more than men due to the pink tax. 

However, this tax does not just apply to products or services exclusive to women, it also applies to products and services consumed by both men and women. For example, BIC’s 5-pack disposable razors for men cost $2.49 while a pack of 2 disposable razors for women is priced at $7.99. The price difference can also be seen among products for children such as toys and costumes. You will find that higher-priced costumes are usually targeted at girls while gender-neutral costumes cost less at FAO Schwarz.

The price difference also poses an additional challenge because of the gender pay gap. The Pew Research Center reported that women earned 82% of what men earned in 2020 and would have to work an extra 42 days to make the same amount as men. So not only are women not paid equally but we are also charged more for the products and services we use, reducing the purchasing power we have in comparison to men.

However, research from Rice University has found that in countries where women are involved in developing the country’s legislation, the difference in prices for gender-specific products and/or services is significantly reduced. Recently the Global Forum has launched a pilot programme to encourage women to work towards achieving gender equality, empowering women to take leadership roles in introducing more transparent laws on taxes.

We can also be active to ensure that we do not fall into the trap of pink tax by buying products that are gender-neutral. At the same time, there are some brands such as Billie, Boxed, Snowe, Cards Against Humanity, European Wax Center & Refinery 29 and Brandless who are consciously working towards breaking the concept of pink tax so that we do not have to pay more for the same product just because of our gender. In order to work towards getting rid of the pink tax, we have to come together as one voice and raise awareness about how we pay that much extra for the same products and services.

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Maragatha Vadivu

"To bring about lasting change, we need to be unapologetically authentic; being true to ourselves and others. We need to celebrate the journey we take to reach our goals and share our experiences with one another, building bridges and come together in a world where our differences are made more prominent."
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