Why women pay more for deodorant, insurance, mortgages

women's dry cleaning shirt
Levitating shirt courtesy of Marie Claire

Good morning, ladies! You’re getting screwed in all kinds of ways you didn’t even realize. According to an eye-opening article by Lea Goldman in Marie Claire Magazine, we pay more for everything from dry cleaning to deodorant, shampoo, mortgages, sneakers, cards, and even tampons. (We added those to make sure you’re paying attention.)

It’s called gender pricing, and manufacturers and retailers get away with it because it’s not technically illegal. The state of California studied this and found that each gal there paid more than $1351 a year in extra taxes and fees. If you do magazine math the way that editors love to do, that amounts nationally to “roughly $151 billion in markups, more than what the federal government spent on education last year and greater than the budgets of 43 states.”

That is some good math, even if it’s grim news. Some of it’s our own fault, though.

Marie Claire cites a 2006 statistic that women, were 32 percent more likely than men to get saddled with high-interest subprime loans — even in cases where their credit ratings and credit histories were better than the men’s:

Public advocates were quick to point to discrimination as the reason, but economists had another theory: Women tend to rely on word-of-mouth recommendations when choosing a lender rather than shopping around for the lowest rate the way men do. We also find negotiating anathema, which means that the markdowns salespeople tend to give customers who haggle — say, in an appliance showroom — typically go to men.

You can write your congressperson and demand an end to gender pricing. Or you can grow a proverbial pair.

I don’t sell cars or dishwashers, but I was helping a vendor friend at the Brooklyn Flea recently and barely anybody haggled. Maybe one in seven customers. I don’t recall whether they were men or women, but how’s this for a bracing stat: six out of seven people of both genders overpaid for their Brooklyn Flea merch. This was a vendor who was actually willing to come down, and nobody asked.

But I digress. Read more: Sex Discrimination and Gender Bias – Why Do Women Pay More Than Men – Marie Claire

Follow Faye on Twitter: @fayepenn


  1. Just a quick FYI for interested ladies: the reason you pay more to dry clean your shirts is because they don’t fit on the mechanical press used for mens’ shirts, and are therefor processed by hand.

      • Plenty of companies do make mechanical presses for womens’ shirts. It’s just a question of volume. Let’s say a typical smaller NYC cleaner does 2,000 mens’ shirts a week. They probably get 100 womens’ in the same time period – not enough to justify an equipment purchase that will take time to pay off, and interrupt the workflow. A large wholesale cleaner or chain is more likely to have both presses and charge a flat rate.

        Why do I know all this, you may ask? I’ve done web marketing for these guys for close to three years:

        Just wanted to dispel the myth women are somehow being penalized or taken advantage of – it’s a different rate because it’s a different garment. (with most cleaners, at least)

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