Proposed state law would help eliminate ‘pink tax’

Krista Huey
Staff Writer

California legislators are considering a bill that would eliminate the so-called “pink tax” – up-charges on women’s products and services that are substantially similar to those made for men.

Senate Bill 873 would expand on current state law and require equal pricing on such products as deodorant and clear disclosures on services and pricing at such business as dry cleaners and hair salons, which routinely charge women more.

State Sen. Hannah-Beth Jackson, D-Santa Barbara, introduced SB 873 in January, it expands on the provisions of the so-called Gender Tax Repeal Act of 1995.

“SB 873 would work to close the loop and prohibit businesses’ prices with respect to consumer products,” said Nora Lynn, Jackson’s legislative director.

According to at 2018 report by the U.S. Government Accountability Office, which analyzed similar men’s and women’s products, “the average retail price for women’s products was substantially higher.”

The bill defines products as similar or identical if they are made from the same resources and have the same usage and design. The color of the product or package is not considered a factor for an increase in charge.

“It is discriminating to me how our products are more expensive, despite the pay gaps between the two genders,” Carissa Martinez, junior business administration major, said.

Men’s haircuts range from $20 to $40 while a women’s ranges from $50 to $70, said Hailey Crisp, a hairdresser at Canyon Hills Salon.

“Women’s products are still more expensive than men’s. The public has incredible power to change, but we don’t use it,” said Rochelle Cowper, professor of business and public management.

Under the proposed law, businesses would be required to post visible price lists in their establishments and provide a printed copy to customers when requested.

If a business were found in violation of gender neutral pricing, it would have 30 days to correct or $1,000 fine.

While SB 873 would prohibit businesses from price-discriminating based on gender, it would allow price differentials for services that require more work, resources or time.

“Customers are becoming more vocal about price inequalities and businesses are having to rethink them,” said Staci Baird, assistant professor of strategic communication.

Krista Huey can be reached at krista.huey@laverne.edu.

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