Photo: 123rf

In late 2015, the New York City Department of Consumer Affairs (DCA) published a seminal study that showed a clear difference in the prices of everyday goods made for men and women. It surveyed nearly 800 products with distinct male and female versions across over 90 brands sold at over 20 retailers.

By deriving average prices across a sampling of men’s and women’s products, then comparing the two, the DCA concluded that women pay 7 per cent more than men for products that were essentially the same. The study found that women pay more than men for toys and accessories (8 per cent), children’s clothing (4 per cent), adult clothing (8 per cent), personal care products (13 per cent), and senior/home health care products (8 per cent).

Unfortunately, a similar study for Singapore/Asia doesn’t seem to exist (as far as we know), but we wanted to see how much of the DCA’s study applies here, and whether gender pricing is a worldwide phenomenon. 

We’ve shortlisted some of the offending products mentioned in the study, per real-life examples we found.We’ve also noted the DCA’s estimates of how much more women pay for these everyday items. We’ll let these examples speak for themselves.


1. Shavers/Razors

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Whether they’re made for men or women, shavers and razors are virtually identical in how they work. Yes, generally men shave more often (which means they buy more razors) than women, but does that justify making women pay 11 per cent more, according to DCA?  

Example we found:

For men: Shick 2 Disposable Razors, pack of 5

Cost: $1.50 (or $0.30 each)

For women: Shick Exacta 2 Sensitive Disposable Razors for Women, Pack of 3

Cost: $2.70 (or $0.90 each)


2. Shower Gel

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Shower gel aimed at women come in a mind-boggling variety of fragrances, colours, ingredients and benefits. Although they look and smell different, shower gel for men and women do the same thing – cleanse our body and keep our skin clean and healthy. Yet, the sheer variety available to women make it convenient for manufacturers to charge women 6 per cent higher.

Example we found:

For men: Dove Men + Care Deep Clean Body and Face Wash, 400ml

Cost: $5.90

For women: Dove Deep Moisture Sulfate-free Shower Foam, 400ml

Cost: $9.90 


3. Compression Socks

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In the category of home health care, compression socks were found to cost 4 per cent more for women than men on average, according to DCA.

Example we found:

For men/unisex: Figure of 8 Copper Compression Socks

Cost: $19.90

For women: PIP Slimwalk Compression Socks

Cost: $52.80


4. Support and Braces

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Overall, DCA found that women were charged a whopping 15 per cent higher on body supports and braces.

Example we found:

For men: Futuro Stable Back Support

Cost: $79.90

For women: Futuro Slim Silhouette For Her Back Support

Cost: $83.90


5. Walking Canes

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Another surprise price difference based on gender was found in walking canes. The DCA estimated that women pay as much as 12 per cent more for canes. (And here you’d think a cane is a cane is a cane…)

Example we found:

For men: Prosper Way Premium Walking Stick (Black Marble)

Cost: $32

For women: Prosper Way Premium Walking Stick (Red Blossom)

Cost: $35.99 


6. Sweaters 

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For sweaters, the DCA report said that women could expect to pay up to 6 per cent more than men. You’d think that’s yet another reason to ‘borrow’ your boyfriend’s outerwear instead of buying your own. 

But actually, we couldn’t really find any significant examples of women in Singapore being charged more in this category after surveying top fast fashion, athletic and lifestyle brands. Instead, the reverse is often seen — women’s sweaters and outerwear were almost always cheaper than their men’s counterparts. As it should be!


7. Shirts and Tees 

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Woe to the women of New York. Not only do they have to grapple with all sorts of gender discrimination, the DCA even found out they have to pay up to 15 per cent more for shirts and tees!

Thankfully, that doesn’t seem to be the case here in Singapore, where fast-fashion brands, indie labels and homegrown shops compete fiercely for our hard-earned dollars. Once again, we found that women’s shirts and tees here are generally cheaper than their men’s counterparts. Plus there’s a lot more variety too!


8. Children’s Tees 

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And if you need further proof that gender pricing is at play, look no further. Perhaps the most damning finding by the DCA was that discriminatory pricing starts the moment you are born. Among others, baby onesies were found to cost up to 4 per cent more for girls. 

And if you need further proof that gender pricing is at play, look no further. Perhaps the most damning finding by the DCA was that discriminatory pricing starts in your childhood! Among others, girls’ tees cost a lot more than boys’ — a whopping 13 per cent more on average.

For Singapore, things weren’t quite as clear cut. We observed that prices for boys’ and girls’ tees are largely similar. However, some brands seem to engage in predatory pricing. In at least one example, tees with uniquely girly iconography (unicorns, female superheroes and cartoon characters) and phrases (girl power, optimism, you’re awesome, etc) were priced higher than their male counterparts. Within the same product lines, boys’ tees were put on sale, but girls’ tees remain full priced. (Granted, this product line featured sequins in both genders’ designs, and perhaps the lower price was an attempt to correct the mistaken notion that boys of any age would be interested in sequins.)

Example we found:

For boys: Disney Mickey Mouse T-Shirt 

Cost: $19.95

For girls: Disney Minnie Mouse T-Shirt 

Cost: $29.95