I was out shopping with my nieces (aged 8 and 10) at the weekend and we went into our local branch of Wilko, the discount hardware store, because for some reason the girls are really into pens, paper, and stationery right now.
While they were checking out the ballpoints, I saw these scientific calculators:
The pink one is £3.75 and the “regular” one is just £3.
That’s a 25% premium for the pink one.
I tweeted it out, because I thought it was a comically inept example of the way products for women are priced higher than equivalent products for men, an issue that was in the news last week due to a survey by The Times of men’s and women’s equivalent products. It reminded me of the “Bic for Her” story, when Business Insider discovered in 2012 that pens marketed at women cost 70% more than those targeted at the general market.
One of my followers pointed out that the calculator isn’t specifically marketed at girls, only that it’s pink. Anyone can buy the pink one.
That might be technically true.
But I think it ignores the reality of marketing and girls. And if you’re a parent who wants your daughter to take a healthy interest in maths, then a pink calculator might be just the thing. Everyone knows this — that’s why Wilko sells them.
So I did some more poking around on Wilko’s website, and found this:
Both pink calculators cost more than their equivalents. The two Casio models are very similar in terms of their computing power. But the pink one has a 17% extra price tag.
So that made me wonder whether Casio sold the pink calculator in an identical non-pink model, and what the prices of those were. To Casio’s credit, it sells the FX 85GT Plus in both pink and blue for an identical price, £10 each:
The price differential only shows up in Wilko’s shop and online.
The company did not respond to a message requesting comment, but we will update this story when we hear back.
There is one variable here: The two similar Casios that Wilko is selling are not identical. The pink one has a solar cell battery whereas the black one does not. But that doesn’t explain why the pink Wilko own-brand calculator is more expensive than the black/silver one, when the pink Wilko one does not have a solar battery and the black/silver one does. Sure the products aren’t identical, so there may be a non-pink explanation for the price differential. It’s just unfortunate that if your girl likes numbers and things that are pink, it’s going to cost you more.
So, if you believe that the Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) fields are biased against girls from an early age, then this evidence will be helpful to your argument.