A study shows how prices differ by gender. Women often have to pay more than men for the same service.
Men and women pay differently for the same service depending on their gender Photo: dpa
Normally, Lotta Barabasch, 22, always has to pay the price for a ladies’ cut at the hairdresser. And that’s despite the fact that she has her hair cut very short with a machine – for which, however, men pay less. Because she thought that was unfair, she borrowed clothes from her roommate, dressed like him and went to the hairdresser that way. "I just couldn’t take it anymore that I had to pay more just because I was a woman," she tells the taz. That day, she paid the man’s price.
The Federal Anti-Discrimination Agency now provides evidence that this is not an isolated case, but that this injustice is of a general nature. The study "Price differentiation by gender", which was presented in Berlin on Wednesday, describes how providers give the same or very similar services divergent prices depending on whether men or women are to buy them. For example, women pay more than men for nearly 60 percent of all services. In the case of goods, the disparity is smaller.
Only those goods and services were considered comparable that differ only in that they specifically appeal to one gender, for example with socially connoted colors such as pink and blue.
Iris an der Heiden from the IF! Institute for Socioeconomic Research, which conducted the study together with Maria Wersig from the Dortmund University of Applied Sciences and Arts, refers to razor blades. "For women" is written on the pink pack, "For men" on the blue one. Both packs contain six razor blades each, which are "completely identical in production and function," says an der Heiden. And yet: the pink pack costs 4.49 euros in the same supermarket, the blue 3.89. The razor blades are one of 62 unpriced products, which the testers*innen could find; in 1,682 examined products a relatively small proportion.
"It’s good news that we don’t have across-the-board price markups based on gender," says Christine Luders, head of the anti-discrimination agency. "But 62 products is also 62 too many." Because of course, she says, it’s discriminatory to exploit the stereotypical assumption that women are generally willing to spend more money on their appearance.
Women demand more advice, it is said, and their haircuts are more technically and time-consuming.
However, prices for services are far more unfairly distributed. Women pay more for 59 percent of all 381 standard services identified, considerably more for hairdressing or dry cleaning, for example. "If a person has to pay more simply because of his or her gender, this is in principle a violation of the ban on discrimination," says Luders. For short hairstyles, for example, women have to pay an average of 12.50 euros more, for cleaning blouses 1.80 euros more than for men’s shirts.
The reason for this is cliche. At the hairdresser’s, for example, women demand more advice, and their cuts are more technical and time-consuming. "I wonder, though, if that still applies when Aubameyang goes to the hairdresser," says Luders, referring to the Borussia Dortmund star striker, who is famous for his extravagant hairstyles. It is inadmissible to make sweeping generalizations, he says, and gender should not be used as a "placeholder" for the expected effort.
Jorg Muller, Chief Executive of the Central Association of the German Hairdressing Trade, which supported the study, told the site: "If a woman really wants the exact same cut as a man, she should not have to pay more. However, that is very rarely the case."
Christine Luders refers to Austria: "There, the hairdressers’ guild has worked out a model for gender-neutral price lists together with the Ombud for Equal Treatment." However, the aim of the study is initially to raise awareness of price discrimination – among customers and service providers.