Financial Literacy

Why is it still way more expensive to be a woman than a man in Canada?

By: Maureen Genore on April 13, 2017
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It’s time we had a talk about the pink tax.

The pink tax refers to the fact that women have to spend more for the same products and services than men do. Why is it that in 2017, women are forced to spend more and still get paid less for equivalent work as men.

Frankly, that’s just bullshit.

Let’s take a look at all the ways it’s still more expensive to be a woman in Canada.

Women have to buy things men don’t

Let’s start with the obvious stuff, like products women need simply because of their bodies: bras, feminine hygiene products, and (most types of) birth control. These are expenses that men will never have to worry about. At this point, if we were keeping score it’d be men: 1, women: 0.

Then, there’s the whole laundry list of other expenses that, while not necessarily an expense for every woman, are things that many women feel obligated to spend money on.

Sure, we don’t have to wear makeup, get our nails done, or wax our legs — but sadly that’s not what society tells us. There is far more social pressure on women to look and dress a certain way then there is for men. Women should always have great hair, which means they need to pay a ton to get it cut, coloured and styled — plus all of the sprays, creams, and oils they’ll need to keep it healthy. Oh, and how many women don’t straighten or curl their hair? Newsflash: flat irons don’t come cheap.

There’s also an expectation for women to attend parties, weddings, and other formal events in a beautiful — and new — dress. Obviously we can’t wear a dress more than once, especially if we’ve been tagged in it, right? But dudes? One suit for every occasion!

The list could go on, but I think it’s pretty clear women have a lot of expenses to consider that most men probably haven’t even thought about.

Have you heard of the ‘pink tax’? It’s a thing

Ah, the ridiculous gendered tax — more commonly known as the ‘pink tax’. Products aimed at women are marked up at every store. This applies to standard products like razors, deodorant, and shampoo. They’re more expensive ONLY because they’re a ‘female’ version of a particular product.

Just how bad is it? Well, when data mining company ParseHub looked at more than 3,199 personal care products from,, and, they found that women paid a whopping 43 percent more than men across five categories: deodorant & an­tiper­spi­ran­t, razors, shaving creams and lotions, soaps and bodywash, and hair care.

And it doesn’t end there.

There are plenty of other things that women pay more for than men do, one of them being haircuts. The average cost of a men’s haircut is around $30, whereas you’d be hard pressed to find a salon that will do a women’s cut for less than $60. The kicker? It doesn’t even matter how long your hair is to begin with, meaning if a man and a woman had the same length hair and requested the same cut — the pricing would still stand.

Oh, and we can’t forget about the gendered price differences you’ll likely find at your local dry cleaner. That’s right — it’s gonna cost you more to get a women’s shirt cleaned than it will a men’s shirt. Sigh.

So, what can we do about it?

If you’re as frustrated as I am about how much more expensive it is to be a woman, you might be wondering what we can do about it. Unfortunately, there’s no clear cut answer, because there will likely always be differences in the costs of being male or female.

But there are a few things we can control. For starters, choose to buy unisex or men’s products — they’ll often contain the same ingredients, with the biggest differences being packaging. In addition: always do your research. Not all women’s products are priced higher than men’s equivalents, so make sure you’re comparing your options and making informed decisions.

And lastly, we need to keep working tirelessly to close the gender wage gap once and for all in Canada.