Australian women are paying $1,300 more than men for essential items like clothing and personal hygiene products every year – and the biggest price discrepancies come from some of the world’s most iconic brands.
That’s according to Victoria Devine, the 29-year-old host of financial advice podcast ‘She’s on the Money‘ who crunched numbers from consumer advocacy studies and government reports in a recent episode.
The research shows that everything from razors and deodorant to footwear and T-shirts cost more when they are marketed to women rather than men.
This price discrepancy has been dubbed the ‘pink tax’ because often the only difference is the colour of the branding – and sometimes, there’s no discernible difference at all.
A browse of David Jones website reveals a Ralph Lauren men’s polo shirt with a teddy bear logo on the breast costs $169, but the identical women’s version is $199.
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Financial adviser Victoria Devine, 29, told Daily Mail Australia it is ‘insanity’ that product value is still being based on gender
Spot the difference: These Ralph Lauren polo shirts with teddy bear logos look identical, but the prices say otherwise. The men’s version (left) costs $169, while the women’s (right) is $199
And it’s not the only example of a luxury label valuing products based on gender.
American designer Tommy Hilfiger is regarded as one of the great pioneers of modern fashion, but his brand’s mathematics do not blaze the same trail.
A Tommy Hilfiger signature ‘flag’ T-shirt costs $69.95 for men and $79.95 for women, despite both being made from ‘100 percent cotton’ and the only apparent difference being the layout of the trademark logo.
In the cosmetics section, a 100ml bottle of Chanel’s ‘Allure’ fragrance for men costs $149, while 100ml of the brand’s ‘Chance Eau Vive’ for women costs $198 – $49 more.
What gives, Coco? Chanel’s 100ml ‘Allure’ men’s fragrance (left) costs $149, while the 100ml ‘Chance Eau Vive’ for women (right) costs $198 – $49 more expensive
In 2020, women’s average weekly ordinary full-time earnings across all industries and occupations is $1,558.40, compared to men’s equivalent earnings of $1,812.
That’s $253.60 more in the bank for the boys each week, but girls are still paying a higher price for like-for-like items.
‘We aren’t asking for things to be cheaper, women just want equality,’ Ms Devine, who lives in Melbourne, told Daily Mail Australia.
‘We want equal access to opportunities and to have access to the same items men do, for the same price. It’s not an unreasonable ask, it’s just logical.’
Ms Devine says it is ‘incredibly questionable’ that product value is still being determined by gender, citing the Ralph Lauren polo shirt as the most glaring example.
Tommy Hilfiger is regarded as a pioneer of modern fashion, but his iconic brand’s mathematics are questionable. His signature ‘flag’ T-shirt costs $69.95 for men (left) and $79.95 for women (right), despite the only difference being the layout of the trademark logo
‘Do we really believe we should be willing to pay an additional $30 for the same white T-shirt with a bear on it, just because the tag says ‘women’s’?’
‘Is it really worth so much more when it’s made in the same factory, from the same materials, and arguably has less fabric used in its construction? It’s insanity.’
Ms Devine believes high end brands often escape scrutiny because consumers are less likely to question the price of designer goods.
But double standards can also be found at budget-friendly retailers.
A 10-pack of Bic ‘men’s’ razors in blueish grey packaging costs $4 at Woolworths, while a four-pack of Bic ‘women’s’ razors in purple and pink packaging costs $5.50 – despite the only difference being the colour of the handles.
Even laundry is more expensive if you are female, with dry cleaning costs for women’s shirts as much as $3 more than men’s, a recent study by price comparison website Finder revealed.
Inside Australia’s gender pay gap
Australia currently has a gender pay gap of 14 percent, according to figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics.
The gender pay gap measures the difference between the average earnings of women and men in the workforce.
It is important to note that it is not the difference between two people being paid differently for work of the same or comparable value, which is unlawful. This is called equal pay.
The gender pay gap is an internationally established measure of women’s position in economy in comparison to men.
It is the result of the social and economic factors that combine to reduce women’s earning capacity over their lifetime, including women’s disproportionate share of unpaid caring and domestic work, conscious and unconscious discrimination in hiring and women traditionally working in lower paid industries than men.
Th gender pay gap reflects the historic undervaluing of women’s professional contributions and the barriers that lead to the under-representation of women in senior executive and management roles.
In May 2020, women’s average weekly full-time earnings across all industries and occupations was $1,558.40 compared to men’s average weekly full-time earnings of $1,812.00.
That’s a difference of $235.60 in favour of men.
The gap fluctuates each year, widening to a historic high of 18.5 percent in November 2014 before shrinking to an all-time low of 13.9 percent in November 2019.
‘These companies are making millions of dollars off tiny price differences, which is just blatantly unfair,’ Ms Devine said.
She believes there is a false perception that because women are ‘more concerned with their appearance’, they should pay more for beauty and grooming products.
Ms Devine calls this a ‘lazy, damaging generalisation’ that patronises 50 percent of the population.
Her solution to price discrimination is simple: always pick the cheaper option.
‘I’ve been doing it for years, just buying the “men’s” version,’ she said.
‘feel very powerful when I’m like, “no, I’m not going to buy the pink one”.’