Given the huge strides that have been made to rid society of sexism, it’s horrifying to know that many Canadian retailers and corporations still prey on women using gender based pricing. Recently, CBC’s Marketplace tested gender pricing at three of Canada’s largest retailers —? Wal-Mart, Hudson’s Bay and Target — and discovered that similar products for men and women weren’t always priced the same.
The Marketplace investigation, “Price Wars: Battle of the Sexes”, aired November 21 at 8 p.m. on CBC Television, and online at www.cbc.ca/marketplace. It documented that in some cases women got much less product than men did. In other cases, they paid more than twice what men did for comparable products from the same manufacturer. One example was a men’s anti-wrinkle cream that cost $8.99. The cost of the women’s version from the very same company? It was $22.99!
But, gender based pricing is not just perpetrated on adults, it also victimizes children. Marketplace found significant differences in some children’s products, with items for girls priced higher than similar ones for boys. In written statements, Wal-Mart, Target and Hudson’s Bay claimed that the price gaps reflect the differences in packaging, manufacturing costs or ingredients, and were not gender based pricing.
But, personal finance author and coach, Katie Dunsworth-Reiach, told Marketplace co-host Erica Johnson that the practice of gender based pricing needs to end. Dunsworth-Reiach asked, “What message is that sending to little girls? That because you like princesses, you have to pay more?”
So, why does the government of Canada, a nation once known for its innovative and progressive stance on social issues, continue to allow gender based pricing? That is a very good question, given that other nations are passing laws to prohibit it.
Gender based pricing is blatant sexism, making it wrong on many levels, and a predatory consumer practice that needs to come to end.