Gender Gap
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11 Things That Cost More for Women (or Men)

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Gender Gap
Juanmonino/istockphoto

Gender Gap

Consumers might pay different prices depending on where and when they buy, their memberships, and a host of other factors. But what about their gender? For some goods and services, there are differences in the prices men and women pay — maybe only a few dollars or percentage points here and there, but they can add up over time. It's most often women paying more, which could be seen as doubly unfair, given the oft-cited statistic that women working full-time make only about 79 cents for every dollar men take home. But in some cases, it's men who pay a premium.

Related: 11 Careers Where Women Are Paid More Than Men

Women Pay More for Haircuts
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Women Pay More for Haircuts

This is sort of expected, because most women have more hair than most men. But costs are higher even when a woman gets the same haircut as a man, according to research in the peer-reviewed Journal of Consumer Policy in 2000. Hairstylists in Denmark were outraged when that country's Gender Equality Board ruled in 2013 that men and women had to be charged the same, and style professionals defended the price difference by saying they spent more time on women. While gender disparity still exists, more salons are jumping on the bandwagon and offering same-priced services for both genders. The old fashioned thought that haircuts are a luxury for women and should therefore cost more versus a simple barber shop experience for men that costs far less is outdated. The key is to find a salon that offers the same pricing, and, if you’re a woman, avoid the extra services like coloring and blow outs.

Women Pay More to Launder Shirts
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Women Pay More to Launder Shirts

While dry-cleaning for pants and suits costs roughly the same, women's shirts often cost more than men's. Sure, they may be made of delicate fabric or have embellishments, but even those that are identical to men's except for the label cost more to get laundered. The culprit is sometimes industrial pressing machines that are sized for men's shirts, an economist told The New York Times, although that doesn't explain why small men aren't charged for hand-pressing.

Women Pay More for Cars
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Women Pay More for Cars

Here's a gap that's shrinking, according to a study analyzing the new car market. Car dealers make almost $250 more than their lowest price when selling to older women. A new report by CJ Pony Parts found that car dealers offer women list prices that are $200 higher than those offered to men. A lot of that has to do with the confidence level of the car buyer. With only 38% of women reporting that they feel confident in buying a car, dealers can sense the lack of confidence and offer higher prices. The lesson here: Before stepping foot into a car dealer, do your research and know exactly what you want to buy and how much it should cost. This will give you much more confidence walking into a car-buying experience. Luckily, with car-buying services like Costco and car-buying websites like Vroom and Carvana, it's becoming less necessary for anyone — male or female — to have to negotiate in person.

Cheapest Oil Change
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Women Pay More for Car Repairs

Even if men and women pay the same for a car, keeping it running may still cost a woman more. In a 2012 study crafted by researchers at Northwestern University's Kellogg School of Management, women calling to replace a specific car part were charged an average 6% more than men if they admitted having no idea what the part should cost (but if they asked for a discount later, they were a little more likely to get one than a man was). The researchers found that when a caller provides their own price estimate, "all gender differences disappear." Another research study in 2017 encountered similar results. The lesson here: Knowledge is key. It pays to be informed before you get your car repaired, especially if you’re a woman.

Women Pay More for Most Personal Care Items
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Women Pay More for Most Personal Care Items

For women, grooming is (mostly) more expensive than it is for men according to a report by the Government Accountability Office (GAO). The report looked at deodorant, shaving gel and cream, razors, perfume, and body sprays. For those marketed to women, half were more expensive, though razors and shaving gel for men cost more. A recent study by Massachusetts General Hospital also found that women pay more for facial moisturizers than men. Ladies, if you're buying a personal care product (especially one that's unscented), consider shopping in the guy's aisle. 

Women Pay More for Clothing
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Women Pay More for Clothing

One prime example is jeans, especially now that "boyfriend jeans" are in style. Prices for Levi's 501 jeans vary by style, but similar washes cost $80 for men and $168 for women. Similar shirts, too, cost more for women than men, and it starts from infancy. A report by the New York City Department of Consumer Affairs called "From Cradle to Cane: The Cost of Being a Female Consumer" says clothing for girls costs about 4% more.

Girls' Themed Toys and Accessories Cost More
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Girls' Themed Toys and Accessories Cost More

The gender price gap starts early in other areas, too, with toys and accessories. Helmets and padding featuring princesses and such have the biggest price gap in this area. According to the New York study Cradle to Cane, the same helmet and padding for boys will cost less (13%) than it would for girls. Same goes for toys in general, where the price gap is 11%.

Women Pay More for Health Care
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Women Pay More for Health Care

Women between the ages of 18 and 44 spend 84% more on healthcare than men. Granted, these are the childbearing years, but later in life, the gap persists. Healthcare spending for women 65 and older is about 8% higher than for men in the same age bracket, according to data compiled by Registered Nursing in January 2020.

Women Pay More for Mortgages
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Women Pay More for Mortgages

This might be most disconcerting of all for women, accounting for many thousands of dollars over a lifetime: A 2011 study found women saddled with higher-interest mortgages. Although the study's authors theorized that women were less likely than men to search for the lowest rate, a follow-up in 2015 showed even worse outcomes for black women. And researchers from the Woodstock Institute found that female applicants in Chicago were less likely to get a home loan at all. Ironically, if women do get a mortgage, they are less likely to default than male owners. 

Women Pay More for Car Insurance
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Women Pay More for Car Insurance

According to Insurance Institute for Highway Safety data going back to 1975, men tend to drive more miles, be riskier and more aggressive drivers, and get into worse accidents, so it's no surprise that the popular perception is that men pay more for insurance. But a 2017 study by the Consumer Federation of America finds that women with perfect driving records pay significantly more than men with identical driving records. Premiums were lower for 20-year-old women than for 20-year-old men most of the time, but not always. GEICO charged young female drivers more than young male drivers in nine of 10 cities. While women still pay more most of the time, California set regulations in 2018 prohibiting the use of gender when determining individual insurance ratings. They joined a handful of other states that have such regulations in place. That said, it’s still a long way to go before most states recognize this discrimination. The lesson here: Male or female, it's a good idea to ask for a discount.

Men Pay More for Nightlife
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Men Pay More for Nightlife

Ladies' night at a bar or nightclub usually translates to free entry and drink specials for women. Although this practice caters to straight men by enticing women into bars, some men see it as discriminatory that they're stuck paying cover and full prices — and have taken businesses to court (with mixed success).