Gender Discrimination in Pricing
Gendered price discrimination is a topic many see every day on some level and acknowledge the existence of. When shopping for goods, we on some level accept that women’s personal care products (such as shampoo or razors) or even women’s clothing will be more expensive. We accept this for a myriad of reasons, whether it be how the products are advertised or our assumptions regarding the costs of inputs required to produce them. Rarely do we think about how much of those price differences are attributable to such factors rather than just an understanding by firms that women will pay more for similar products. This is harmful, especially when contemplating the long-term economic burden placed on women as a result of this discrimination. Researchers in California during a 1994 study found that women pay on average a gendered tax of $1,351 every year (closer to $2,135 today) as a result of pricing differences in men’s and women’s products even when the products are remarkably similar. This is significant given that, according to 2018 estimates from the U.S. Census Bureau, roughly 50.7 percent of Indiana’s population (about 3,392,782 people) are women and as a result are either affected by this “Pink Tax” or will be effected at some point in their lifetime. This strips Indiana women cumulatively of millions of dollars each year.
This bill would prohibit a business establishment from discriminating against a person because of a person’s gender with respect to the price charged for goods of a substantially similar or like kind, except for food, as defined, or goods sold by a new motor vehicle dealer. The bill would specify that a price difference based specifically on labor, materials, tariffs, or other gender-neutral reasons for having an increased cost of providing the goods is not included within this prohibition. The bill would also specify that a retail establishment is not prohibited from passing through a price to the consumer that is set by a manufacturer, distributor, or other entity that the retailer cannot control. This bill would prohibit a business establishment from discriminating against a person because of the person’s gender with respect to the price charged for services of similar or like kind and specifies that this prohibition does not apply to price differences based specifically upon the amount of time, difficulty, or cost of providing the services.