Women pay more than men for deodorant, perfume and other consumer products, federal investigators concluded in a new report.
However, researchers with the Government Accountability Office could not conclude if the higher prices women paid for five of 10 consumer products tested were because of gender bias or other factors. Still, there is mounting evidence that the so-called “pink tax,” the extra charge that women pay for certain goods and services, exists.
The GAO analyzed price data for 10 personal care products and found five examples — underarm and body deodorants, shaving cream, designer perfume and mass-market body sprays — in which the average retail prices paid were “significantly higher” for women’s products than men’s items.
Perhaps the worst news is that it’s not just about beauty products. Women also pay more for mortgages and auto loans, the GAO found. But there’s a reason.
“Women as a group pay higher interest rates on average than men, in part due to weaker credit characteristics,” according to the report, which noted that women tend to earn about 20 percent less than their male counterparts.
Some of that might not be chalked up to gender, the researchers noted, but other factors.
“GAO did not have sufficient information to determine the extent to which these gender-related price differences were due to gender bias as opposed to other factors, such as different advertising costs,” researchers concluded.
Still, it can all add up to a real pain in the pocketbook for women but it’s still perfectly legal on a national level. While federal law bars sex discrimination in housing and credit, “no federal law prohibits businesses from charging consumers different prices for the same or similar goods targeted to different genders,” the GAO states.
That’s not the case in California, which prohibits businesses from charging different prices for the same or similar goods and services based solely on gender.
The study found that men paid more for nondisposable razors and shaving gel, and there was no difference found in the pricing for certain items such as disposable razors, razor blades and mass-market perfume.
For the record, the GAO collected this data at the request of Rep. Carolyn Maloney, D.-New York, and Sen. Bob Casey, D.- Pennsylvania. Maloney, who has previously spoken out against the pink tax, told Bustle she found the GAO report “worrisome.”
“What sticks out to me most is how the gender pay gap seeps over to (things) like mortgages and loans — compounding this issue and putting women at an even greater financial disadvantage,” Maloney told Bustle.