Students want gender bias in pricing products to end

Jan 17, 2023, 10:16 AM | Updated: 10:29 am

Gender bias drug store...

Many drug store products are priced differently for men and women. (Getty Images)

(Getty Images)

A group of Seattle high school students wants gender bias in pricing products to end.

Students from Lake Washington High School helped research a bill in the Washington Legislature that would prohibit gender-based pricing.

Students found that 42% of products considered “substantially similar” were priced higher when marketed to women. The practice is often called the “Pink Tax.” It refers to the concept that some products cost more for women, including razors, deodorant, body wash, and even car insurance.

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“Basically, to violate this proposed law, two substantially similar products have to be priced differently solely because of the gender that the products are marketed to,” Gabriella Heuer, a student who helped research the bill, said. “To be clear, the intention of this law is not to needlessly regulate the economy, but rather to prevent discrimination.”

If the bill passes, markets would not be allowed to sell products at different prices based on gender.

“Unfortunately, this bill would unfairly penalize local grocers for pricing set by manufacturers,” Katie Beason, a lobbyist for independent store owners, told KIRO Newsradio.

State Senator Manka Dhingra is sponsoring the bill.

The law wouldn’t affect products marketed to women with a legitimate reason to be more expensive, such as using more expensive ingredients.

“There is absolutely no reason why one product should be more expensive than the other when they do not have different ingredients,” Dhingra told KIRO 7 News. “Frankly, we should be more inclusive than simply pink or blue.”

There is no federal law that addresses this issue, although one government study reported that some women’s products are sold at “statistically higher prices” than similar prices to men’s.

The report from the Government Accountability Office said:

Studies GAO reviewed found limited evidence of gender price differences for four products or services not differentiated by gender—mortgages, small business credit, auto purchases, and auto repairs. For example, with regard to mortgages, women as a group paid higher average mortgage rates than men, in part due to weaker credit characteristics, such as lower average income. However, after controlling for borrower credit characteristics and other factors, three studies did not find statistically significant differences in borrowing costs between men and women, while one found women paid higher rates for certain subprime loans. In addition, one study found that female borrowers defaulted less frequently than male borrowers with similar credit characteristics, and the study suggested that women may pay higher mortgage rates than men relative to their default risk.”

If the Washington bill is adopted, the Attorney General could fine manufacturers up to $100k.

KIRO Newsradio’s Matt Markovich contributed to this report

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Students want gender bias in pricing products to end