Want to read in Dutch? Click here
Let’s talk about the Pink Tax today. The so-called ‘pink tax’ that we pay when we buy a product specifically made for women, while the same product is cheaper for men. It has been known for years that women, on average, pay more for grooming products like shampoo, deodorant, and razors. But did you know that there are women who, for example, have to pay more for their uniform? Because the Pink Tax also exists in work clothing. Time to delve into this overlooked theme.
Pink Tax: the numbers
As I mentioned earlier, the Pink Tax has been a well-known phenomenon for many products for years. And the numbers don’t lie. Research has shown that women pay an average of thirty percent more than men for the same product. This difference can even reach 67 percent for luxury brands. This is not only a problem in the Netherlands; comparable percentages are measured in other countries as well. British, German, and American women pay an average of 37 percent more for grooming products.
In addition to personal care, there are more products for which women pay more on average. And it starts in infancy. For girls’ clothing, you pay an average of 4 percent more than for boys’ clothing. This difference is even higher at 7 percent for toys. As we get older, there remains a difference in the costs of clothing for women and men. Women pay an average of eight percent more for clothing than men. In some cases, men pay more for clothing than women, such as in business attire like suits and shirts. According to researchers, this difference has arisen because men are often willing to spend more on this than women.
Also in workwear, there is a (hidden) Pink Tax
Because it has been known for years that women pay more, especially for grooming products, products are increasingly being consciously purchased. I know that almost all my friends use razors designed for men. They are simply cheaper than the often pink version made ‘especially for women.’
But what if you can’t choose? Because, for example, you can’t use or wear the male version? The US military has been dealing with this problem for some time. A study found that female military personnel, after a twenty-year career, have to pay an average of $8,300 out of their own pocket. Men pay a maximum of half of that during their careers. This is because women have to buy more clothing and shoes, which is not always necessary. Female military personnel also more frequently experience changes in uniforms, for which they have to pay themselves.
Not only the quantity of clothing, but also the costs of the clothing itself, depend on gender. Male soldiers receive a standard allowance for the underwear they receive. This package costs $382, while the package for women costs $642. And the ladies do not receive a financial allowance for this.
Law must put an end to the Pink Tax
A report has now been drawn up detailing the differences per function. It shows that women working at sea have to pay three times as much as their male colleagues. In the air force, it is even expected that men can earn money from the allowance they receive for their work clothing, while women have to pay for it out of their own pocket.
The report advises rectifying this inequality. While it may seem like an internal matter, it goes beyond that. A bill has been proposed to address this issue. US Senator Maggie Hassan from New Hampshire finds it ridiculous that this exists. “It’s absurd that we force these people to pay thousands of dollars to cover the necessary clothing they wear while serving our country,” Hassan said in a statement.
In addition to the request to equalize allowances by gender, they also want stricter control when adjusting uniforms.
Making the pink tax illegal in the military may sound like an extreme measure, but it is actually very logical. Although it happens on a large scale with consumer products, it remains a form of discrimination. And therefore prohibited by law.
However, it’s bizarre that a law has to be introduced for this. Apparently, the problem is not serious enough for the employer to address it themselves. I suspect that, as in many cases, money plays an important role. Because the US military consists of only 16 percent women, producing work clothing for this target group is relatively expensive. The larger the quantity you purchase, the cheaper the product becomes per piece. That is a logical explanation for the fact that men’s clothing in the military is cheaper. But this is an economic way to approach this problem. Purely from a financial perspective. In practice, you also have to deal with norms, values, and of course laws.
That’s why I find it unfortunate that this has to happen. On the other hand, it is also an important signal to other employers. Because no matter how ‘expensive’ women may be, everyone has the same rights.
Have you ever dealt with an employer who made you pay for your work clothing while the opposite gender (man or woman) didn’t have to? Or are you dealing with this now? Let me know through a comment below. You can also share your story (anonymously) via email@example.com.