• Reading Level 5
Science | History | Design & Technology | Citizenship | PSHE

Revealed: women overcharged in ‘sexist’ shops

An investigation has shown that women pay more than men for products which are essentially exactly the same. Unfair, perhaps – but is it their own fault? And just ‘business’ after all? How much would you be willing to pay for a disposable twin-blade razor? If you are female, chances are your cut-off point will be higher - according to a recent investigation by The Times, at least. The newspaper looked at hundreds of clothes, toys and beauty products sold by some of the UK's biggest retailers. It found that products marketed at women cost 37% more than those aimed at men - despite being, in most cases, pretty much identical. Levi's female jeans cost one and a half times their male equivalents. Bic's 'for her' pens go for a pound more than the company's ordinary biros. Tesco sells ten men's disposable razors (blue) for 1, but charges double that for the women's version (pink). Generally, the female ranges have slightly fancier designs. The differences end there. The Times report caused quite a stir. Many in the media were indignant. Maria Miller, the chairwoman of the Women and Equalities Committee, suggested that retail bosses might be called to Parliament to explain their pricing. 'At a time when we should be moving toward a more de-gendered society,' said the MP, 'retailers are out of step with public opinion'. But the investigation's findings did not exactly come out of the blue (or should that be 'out of the pink'?). Last year, a different study found a similar price gap among customer goods in New York. In the UK, women have long felt that they are being cheated, whether by the tampon tax or the enduring pay gapWomen currently earn 77% of what men earn.  in the workplace. This latest statistic is dismaying, but hardly surprising. So why do shops keep getting away with it? Simple, say analysts: because women are willing to pay. The market is now so competitive, and market research technology so sophisticated, that retailers will only price their women's products so high if they are certain people will buy them anyway. They are just responding to demand. The price is wrong If women are outraged, say some, they should put their money where their mouth is and boycott overpriced 'female goods'. This will send out a clear message to the retailers, and force them to charge less. After all, shops only sell what we want to buy: that is what the concept of 'consumer sovereignty' is all about. Instead of complaining about the status quo, let's change it. This is just another attempt to blame women for the injustices they face, reply others. True, a boycott would have an effect. But it would force women to buy products aimed at men instead - and who can blame them for not wanting to put on cheap deodorant for blokes? As Miller said, gendered products should be on the way out. It is time retailers woke up to this, and moved from malefemale to unisex ranges. KeywordsPay gap - Women currently earn 77% of what men earn. 

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