The (not so) secret costs of being a woman: Spending
Illustration by Christine Mi
From the careers they pursue to the haircuts they get, women pay a premium compared to men throughout their financial lives. To make matters worse, society’s expectations for women, such as raising kids and caring for older parents, deal a major blow to their relative lifetime earning power. And while many women have broken through stereotypes to change the way we think about gender and money, barriers remain.
This four-part series looks at the costs of womanhood—many of which may surprise you (or make you steam). Share them with young women and girls you know. It’s time to give the next generation the tools and know-how they need to make the most of their money.
From the cars they drive to the shampoo they buy, women have to fork over more cash than men for a whole range of products and services. The cost premiums start early in life, in the toy aisle and on the clothing rack, and persist through adulthood.
The Pink Tax
From childhood on, women tend to be charged more than men for everything from toys to clothing. A study of products sold in New York City found women pay a 7% premium on them compared to similar products for men. The same price discrepancies are evident in services. Historically, for example, women’s haircuts and dry cleaning have been priced higher than men’s. One state (California) has banned “pink tax” discrimination, but it’s difficult to police.
Auto purchases, repairs, and insurance
Women are often quoted higher prices when purchasing cars or having them repaired, based on sellers’ and mechanics’ gender-based expectations of women’s knowledge about automobiles. About half of Americans believe that men pay more for car insurance. But contrary to that perception, many female drivers with spotless driving records, especially those 40 and older, pay more for car insurance than men with identical records. The inequality extends to public transportation. A survey found that women in New York City spend up to $50 extra each month on taxis and trains each month to avoid harassment and theft, especially late at night.