Consumer Federation of California Sponsors SB 899 (Hueso) To End Gender Bias In Prices
SACRAMENTO – Consumer Federation of California is sponsoring SB 899 (Hueso) to prohibit businesses from charging customers different prices for substantially similar products on the basis of gender. The state Senate Judiciary Committee will consider SB 899 at 1:30 p.m. Tuesday, April 12.
This chronic problem has been documented most recently by a December 2015 study, “From Cradle to Cane: The Cost of Being a Female Consumer,” published by the New York City Department of Consumer Affairs. After examining nearly 800 individual retail items that are available nationwide and “had similar male and female versions and were closest in branding, ingredients, appearance, textile, construction, and/or marketing,” the study found products for women and girls cost more 42 percent of the time, with prices for those products averaging 7% higher.
“All consumers, regardless of their gender, should pay the same price for the same product. Pink packaging or gender-based marketing is no justification for charging more. Anything less than an equal price is discrimination and blatantly unfair,” said Richard Holober, CFC’s Executive Director.
“It is unfair that female products are priced higher than men’s,” said Senator Ben Hueso (D-San Diego). “Why are retailers pulling extra money from women when data already shows that they earn about 84 cents for every dollar men earn? This needs to change. It’s about time we stand up to the retailers and fight for equal product pricing for all.”
Research conducted for the Legislature in 1994 concluded that women paid $1,350 more than men for equivalent products and services. The state enacted AB 1100 (Speier), the Gender Tax Repeal Act of 1995, to eliminate gender-based pricing for services, such as dry cleaning and haircuts. Unfortunately, provisions that addressed price discrimination in products were amended out of the bill as it moved through the Legislature.
Some of the most brazen examples of gender bias in pricing:
- Senior and home health care products (canes, ankle and wrist braces, adult diapers etc.): Studying over 100 items, researchers found that those marketed to women cost an average 8% more than similar products for men. Personal urinals – plain plastic containers for people with limited mobility, with little or no difference between men’s and women’s models– averaged 21% higher; other double-digit differences were supports and braces for backs and joints, at 15%.
- Personal care products(the most frequently used – and bought – category): Of 122 items studied in this category, women’s cost 13% more overall, with items such as shampoo and conditioner running 48% higher and razors, razor cartridges and lotions all 11% higher – when the only apparent differences were in packaging, contours and color.
- Adult clothing: Of 292 comparable items, women’s apparel cost 8% more on average. Shirts for women averaged 15% higher than men’s, “dress shirts” 13%, and jeans 10%.
- Toys and accessories: With 106 products examined, average prices ran 7% higher for girls; female skateboarders’ and cyclists’ protective helmets and pads typically cost 13% more.
- Children’s clothing(168 items studied): Girls’ prices averaged 4% higher than boys’ in general – and 13% higher for shirts in particular.
SB 899 is co-authored by Assembly Member Lorena Gonzalez, D-San Diego, and supported by the following organizations in addition to CFC (partial list):
- California Public Interest Research Group
- California Assn. of Retired Americans
- Equal Rights Advocates
- Mujeres Unidas y Activas
- Older Women’s League
- Women’s Foundation of California
“From Cradle to Cane: The Cost of Being a Female Consumer”; New York City Department of Consumer Affairs