Why Women Should Earn More Than Men: We Get Charged More
by Sophie Atkinson
Recently I’ve been busy doing grown woman things like undergoing a performance review at work, and I got to air my theory that ladies — all ladies, you, me, everyone we know — should automatically and by law be making at least $112 per month more than male counterparts in our respective roles, simply for owning vaginas (more on this extremely specific figure in a moment).
I was having the discussion with a woman more senior than me, so she didn’t simply spit on the floor with disgust at my unabashed misandry, but instead was all, oh, how come?
Well, funny you should ask, kindly more senior level lady!
According to an issue of NEON magazine I was recently reading, men in Germany, where I live, make 20 percent more on average than women annually. And here’s the kicker: this gap hasn’t changed since the ’90s. I did a little internet investigation AKA Googling to see if women were faring better in the New World, but apparently men there make 21 percent more. Maybe you ladies should move over here for that sweet extra percent.
So, for a start, there’s a backlog of inequality which could be addressed in a gender-based affirmative action type payment policy. But more importantly, just to function as a woman who’s considered to be meeting base levels of grooming and hygiene, you need to spend some dollars. Things you might toe the line on:
• Body hair! Got some? Unless you’re pre-pubescent, I guess so. Maybe you don’t wax (who has the time?), but you’re probably buying razors, right? Mic.com found a three pack of Gillette’s Venus Oceana razors selling for $12.49 while a three pack of Gillette’s Mach 3 line, marketed at men, retails at $10.99. A 2010 edition of Consumer Magazine found that women were also charged more on shaving cream, finding one brand charging women 11 cents more per ounce for their female-marketed shaving cream than their male-marketed shaving cream. We’re paying a tax for products geared towards women, and it’s called the Pink Tax.
• Do you exercise? Do you ever exert yourself a tiny bit physically at all? Do you ever get overheated? Assuming you’re not a fragile otherworldly wood nymph, I’m going to assume you sweat and so use deodorant. Although men and women’s deodorants are normally sold at similar prices, according to a 2011 study from the University of Central Florida, men’s deodorants are sized more generously, meaning that women ultimately pay 30 cents more an ounce.
• And if you’re someone who gets your shirts dry-cleaned and you’re a woman, you’re probably paying that bit more. The same 2011 study found that dry cleaners charged an average of $3.95 to clean a basic shirt for a woman and $2.06 for a basic shirt for a man. The study also found that most dry cleaners charge extra for cleaning shirts with pleats and embellishments; guess which gender most often has shirts boasting pleats and embellishments? Yep.
• The same study quoted a chief economist from the American Apparel Association on how garments that looked pretty much the same were priced differently according to gender: “Even in areas where garments are unisex, like knit shirts, a shirt in the men’s department will sell for less than the same knit shirt in the women’s department.”
• Do you cut your own hair? If so, !!!!! and show me how, stat. If not, sadly hair’s another area where women are losing out. U.S. News reported in 2014 that women were paying an average of $16 more per haircut.
• Periods. Tampons, sanitary towels. I found a terrifying statistic courtesy of the Huffington Post that totaled up the lifetime cost of tampons and, err, new underwear for period related mishaps as totalling almost $4,000.
• Makeup! Maybe you’re a dewy cheeked beauty who never wears any. Maybe you’re flying in the face of western beauty standards. I dunno. Life feels hard without a cat’s eye flick. I’m not asking you to finance my eyeliner habit, but let’s at least acknowledge that women are more likely to feel pressured (whether consciously/subconsciously) to use cosmetics, especially since various studies (see here and here for starters) have proved that women who use makeup enjoy a whole host of benefits from being more likely to be perceived as likeable/competent/trustworthy to being more likely to get tipped as a waitress or promoted in the office.
Maybe you’re still unconvinced. Why fund succumbing to gender norms, you say. Cut your own hair, give up shaving, who dry cleans anything these days? Also, mooncups exist. All excellent points. And the underarm hair thing looks pretty badass.
But, it would be nice to have a choice on whether or not to have kids, right? Because becoming a mother looks like the absolute worst decision you could make for your career, at least when viewed from a monetary perspective. According to this study from 2007, which is full of information that’s going to make you want to scream into a pillow for an hour, employed mothers in the U.S. suffer a wage penalty of approximately 5 percent per child they have. According to the AAUW, working mothers typically receive 70 cents for every dollar working fathers receive. The statistics get even more disheartening when you break them down according to race: African American mothers make 64 cents and Hispanic mothers make 54 cents on every white paternal dollar. The same 2007 study also stated that visibly pregnant women are judged to be “less committed to their jobs, less dependable and less authoritative.”
And while there are obvious reasons for why mothers might end up making less than men (interruptions in their career, demand for part-time work, flexible hours), the same study states “occupational controls do not eliminate the penalty.”
OK, let’s get real: There are some things men get charged more for, like car insurance and, err…being at a bar during ladies’ night. Plus, according to a reliable and scientific source i.e. my pal Ben: “We eat so much more and it takes so many more beers to get drunk!” Sure. But ultimately, one study from California from the ’90s stated that women have to pay $1,351 more per year just for gendered products that penalize women, which is how I came to my suggested “settle the gap” fee of $112 per month. So now, over to you: Is being a woman wonderful enough to equal out the inequality of finances according to gender? Should women get even more, since the $1,351 per year figure doesn’t cover the cost of twenty years’ worth of inflation? Should women-who-are-mothers get even more to compensate for all the prejudice in the workplace? Give me your thoughts below.
Sophie Atkinson is a writer based in Berlin.
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