What’s wrong with gender neutral pricing structures?

I had a hair-cut on Thursday.

A much needed hair-cut.

However, whilst I was there, the salon had a phone call from another potential customer and it got me thinking.

Based on the one-sided conversation I could hear, the person on the other end of the line had obviously asked my hairdresser, the salon owner, how much he charged. And this is when my ears pricked up and my cage was rattled. The answer to the potential customer’s query was “It’s £35 for a man’s cut and £55 for a woman’s.”

Why? Why should whether a customer is male or female make a difference? Surely the work that is done, the time it takes and the amount of all the different products used should be what determines the price, not the customer’s gender.

I have short hair. Very short hair. And it takes my hairdresser about 40 minutes to deal with. I don’t do the hair washing thing or have any bleaching and colouring or straightening or curling or anything complicated and I am to be charged £55 for it. So I asked my hairdresser how much he would charge a man for exactly the same thing – a trim and tidy up. The answer? £35.

Why? What is it about my haircut that makes it different from a man’s. This seeming discrimination got me thinking. What else costs more just because the customer is a female?

It starts from a very early age. Children’s clothes and children’s shoes regularly cost different amounts depending on the gender of the child. I had two daughters and would often end up buying them so-called boys trainers and sandals because they were cheaper. The only difference I could see was that the boys trainers were blue or green and had dinosaurs or superheros on and the girls ones were pink and were decorated with cute fluffy kittens and pirouetting ballerinas. Apart from that they were essentially the same. Thankfully my girls liked dinosaurs.

If you go to the supermarket there are so many products available which are labelled as being for men and products which are labelled as being for women. Razors, deodorants, shampoos, moisturisers, socks. And what are the differences between the products in question? Not much that I can see apart from the fact the men’s products usually come with black or silver packaging whilst the women’s products are pink and have pretty little flowers on them. Well, product manufacturers, I am female, my favourite colour is black, I really don’t like pink much at all and I don’t need little flowers printed on everything. They serve no purpose I can see. What do I buy? The cheaper stuff in black or the more expensive pink stuff that my gender seems to imply I should be buying? I’m a rebel. I go for the cheaper, men’s products every time.

Why do so many people put up with this? Why the disparity? What is it about pink and the word ‘girl’ or ‘woman’ that makes manufacturers, service providers and retailers think they can charge females more than males for the same thing? I want to see an end to gender based pricing structures. Let’s have more gender neutral products or services. Charge both genders the same. I know it’s a radical, innovative concept but it’s pretty simple really.

My hairdresser got it, he charged me £35 and has promised to consider charging people for what he does, not whether they are male or female in future. It’s a start. One down, thousands more to go.

And quit with the pink versus black thing. Try green for a change, that’s a nice fresh colour with no gender bias whatsoever.

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1 comment
  1. Luan said:

    I’m glad you challenged the hairdresser. The discrimination is silly and I don’t think I’d considered it before. I think £35 is an awful lot for a trim as well though. I rarely pay more than £15.

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