It should go without saying, but clothing can be expensive, especially if you’re a woman. And if you’re a woman who has ever wondered why it seems like you’re paying more for clothing than your male counterparts, chance is you actually are.
This is the dilemma the New York City Department of Consumer Affairs (DCA) is examining as part of a new study called “From Cradle to Cane: The Cost of Being a Female Consumer,” which found that women’s products cost 7% more on average than similarly marketed men’s products.
In a comparison of nearly 800 items in 35 different product categories, the study found that women pay more for everything from clothing and personal care items to children’s clothing and toys. This means that women usually end up paying thousands of dollars more than men throughout their lifetimes.
“Over the course of a woman’s life, the financial impact of these gender-based pricing discrepancies is significant,” said Julie Menin, Commissioner of the DCA, in an op-ed in the NY Daily News. “Not only are women being paid less than men, on average, they are also being charged more for basic goods and have to pay for these goods with that lesser salary.”
In the apparel sector, women’s clothing cost more than men’s in six out of seven categories, including jeans, dress pants, sweaters, and socks. But the biggest discrepancy between men and women lie in how much women paid for shirts (15% more on average than men) and dress tops (13% more). The only category where men paid more was underwear, which costs 29% more on average than women’s underwear.
While the researchers took into consideration the differences in how men’s and women’s clothing is manufactured, the study points to experts at the Fashion Institute of Technology, who say that clothing is greatly marked up by retailers, and that production costs have little bearing on the price consumers ultimately pay. Rather, prices are set by businesses, and as women are generally seen as more willing to pay high prices for clothing, they are often charged more, the study concluded.