The New York state assembly passed legislation this week that seeks to eliminate product discrimination, or charging different prices for men's and women's products.
Women's products, on average, cost 7 percent more than equivalent products targeted to men, a study by New York City Department of Consumer Affairs found. The study found specifically that, for women, personal care products cost 13 percent more, and senior or home health-care products were 8 percent more. Women's clothing cost 8 percent more, and children's clothing for girls cost 4 percent more.
The new measure was sponsored by Democratic Assemblywoman Nily Rozic of Queens, who calls this price disparity "institutionalized discrimination," according to NBC.
Product discrimination along gender lines isn't the only area where legislators and consumers are fighting back. Cities such as Denver are now targeting taxes on products, such as menstrual pads and tampons, that are medically necessary for those who menstruate. As Francie Diep reported for Pacific Standard in March, most states don't tax necessary items such as groceries and medications, and proponents argue this logic should apply to medically necessary menstrual products. These exemptions are especially important for low-income women. Girls and women are more likely to live below the poverty line than boys and men, and this disparity is particularly acute during their menstruating years, Diep reports.
Whether this discrimination extends beyond the drugstore remains less clear. As Diep explained for Pacific Standard in August:
Researchers at the [United States Government Accountability Office] found weak evidence that women may unfairly pay more for mortgages, according to some existing studies. As a group, women definitely pay more, in part because they tend to have lower incomes, and therefore lower credit scores. When controlling for credit worthiness, however, three studies the GAO examined found no differences between genders. One study found women pay more for certain subprime loans. Another study found that women are less likely to default on their loans compared to men with the same credit scores. If that's true, then women may unfairly pay more, compared to their real risk as borrowers. The GAO researchers noted that each of these studies had limitations, so it's still not firmly known whether lenders truly charge women more, or if other, non-discriminatory factors fully account for gender differences.
The New York bill will now advance to the state senate for consideration.