Gender price discrimination draws anger in Vancouver
Ruth Krulitsky poses for a photo in Burnaby, B.C. on Monday March 10, 2014. Krulitsky is upset after a salon tried to charge her women's rate even though she had short hair like a man. (CARMINE MARINELLI/ 24 HOURS)
A Surrey woman is refusing to pay a premium for her haircuts any longer — having now realized gender pricing at salons has nothing to do with the amount of work her short hair needs.
Until this past Sunday, Ruth Krulitsky had always accepted that the seemingly more complex hairstyles of women cost more to maintain.
But when she wanted work on her recently shaved hair — now just two-inches long — she was shocked to learn her favourite hair salon of 10 years wanted to charge her the same $60 it had cost when her hair was much longer.
“They said, ‘Generally, women require more styling, sometimes they require more time, we would charge you the women’s rate,’” Krulitsky said on Monday, baffled at how men with longer hair can get a trim for half the price.
In an act of disbelief, she quickly called five other salons in the downtown Vancouver area to see what they would do. All of them still wanted to charge her the women’s rate.
“I was really upset,” Krulitsky said. “It’s just one more thing to make you feel like you’re being treated unfairly.”
Ann Travers, another woman with short hair, said on Monday the pricing structure is likely what it is because gender pricing is not “understood” as discrimination.
“I’ve had the same experience myself,” she said. “I self-select. I choose places where I don’t have to pay more.”
According to Simon Fraser University marketing professor Lindsay Meredith, haircuts are hardly the only thing women are charged more than men for.
He cited an insurance company study of auto repair prices for men and women the found the latter were charged 30% more.
Women typically pay more for clothes, too.
“They keep doing it because they can get away with it, because the customer is willing to pay,” Meredith said. “Could she buy the jeans (elsewhere) at a reduced price? Yeah … (But) they’re aware women want to have that name brand.”
He cautioned that gender pricing also works against men.
“Trying to get into a nightclub — if you’re a female you get admitted because females attract males. If you’re a male, you get to stand in line and you have to pay a cover.”
He added solutions include boycotting the business or negotiating for a better rate.