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Why you should always buy the men’s version of almost anything

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Not only do women not make as much money as men... they get charged more for many common items! Double whammy, ladies.

Wow, this is crazy:

The scooters' price gap isn't an anomaly. The New York City Department of Consumer Affairs compared nearly 800 products with female and male versions — meaning they were practically identical except for the gender-specific packaging — and uncovered a persistent surcharge for one of the sexes. Controlling for quality, items marketed to girls and women cost an average 7 percent more than similar products aimed at boys and men.

DCA Commissioner Julie Menin, who launched the investigation this summer, said the numbers show an insidious form of gender discrimination. Compounding the injustice, she said, is the wage gap. Federal data shows women in the United States earn about 79 cents for every dollar paid to men.

“It’s a double whammy,” Menin said, “and it’s not just happening in New York. You see in the aisles the issue is clearly applicable to consumers across the country.”

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A Target spokesperson said the company lowered the price of the pink scooter after the report was released Friday, calling the discrepancy a "system error." (The retailer blamed the same kind of glitch last year after catching heat for selling black Barbies at more than double the price of white Barbies.)

When asked about the price differences of other gendered toys — like the Raskullz shark helmet ($14.99) and the Raskullz unicorn helmet ($27.99) or the Playmobil pirate ship ($24.99) and the Playmobil fairy queen ship ($37.99) —  the representative pointed to a company statement, declining to elaborate: "Our competitive shop process ensures that we are competitively priced in local markets. A difference in price can be related to production costs or other factors."

As I recall, it even extends to services like dry cleaning, for which there are not separate versions of the service. 

I wonder what the causal mechanism is for this.  I don't think it can be just sexism - that may be a partial cause, but one would assume that enough women are involved in price setting in the economy that at least it wouldn't just be male sexism against women that could explain it.  I saw GMU economics professor Robin Hanson query whether a partial cause might be that women in the aggregate may be more likely to view higher price as a signal of higher quality than are men. 

Hanson expanded his tweet on possible causation into a blog post here:

Perhaps it's as simple as they tested whatever price people were willing to pay, and went with that.

In general people believe higher price means higher quality. 

Another interesting area where this happens is in superhero toys. I've been paying more attention to these with our daughter due to arrive in March. Female superhero toys are often more expensive, not to mention harder to find. I think in some cases it is a matter of supply and demand. A feminized (make it pink) traditionally "male" object will be less common and less in demand. That said Disney princesses and similar female toys are everywhere. I really REALLY don't like the Disney princess thing - I'm not a fan of hyper-cutiesy-femininity. Although the most glaring examples of that seem to be in Japanese anime.

I have heard that even Star Wars doesn't have nearly as many Rey items as you would expect, and they tend to be more expensive! And the Marvel universe doesn't even sell toys of their female characters.

I've seen an occasional Black Widow action figure...

Black Widow toy

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