Gender costs can cut both ways

TIME IS MONEY: Headspace’s Niq James, cutting  the hair of Steve Smith says his charges are based on time, not gender.
TIME IS MONEY: Headspace’s Niq James, cutting the hair of Steve Smith says his charges are based on time, not gender.

Women often choose to fork out more on their hair than men, but should they have to?

Denmark's board of equality ruled last month that price differences between men's and women's haircuts were illegal. The board ordered a salon that charged 100 crowns (NZ$21.25) more for women's haircuts than men's to pay a fine of 2500 crowns.

The decision has prompted Sue Chetwin, Consumer NZ chief executive, to say it may be time for hairdressers to charge for how long the cut took, rather than whether the customer was a man or a woman.

"More men are having styled hair rather than just short back and sides. They regularly have cuts and their hair blow-waved but pay less than women for the same job," Chetwin said.

"In this competitive environment, women might also take a stand and demand a less expensive visit to the hairdresser or they will take their business elsewhere. It would be too difficult to legislate but I guess it could be argued at the Disputes Tribunal."

A spokeswoman for the Human Rights Commission said that, under the Human Rights Act, a service provider, such as a hairdresser, was allowed to differentiate between men and women "where the nature of the skill varies".

"A person does not breach the act by exercising the skill in relation to one sex but only if it is in accordance with that person's normal practice."

Christchurch salon owners say they are already pricing haircuts based on time rather than gender.

Headspace owner Niq James said his salon charged in 15-minute slots.

A woman's appointment usually takes about 45 minutes because of a blow-wave, whereas a man's can be a lot shorter.

A haircut and blow-dry from a stylist cost $75 for a woman and a haircut and finish for a man cost $46.

"If a woman's haircut took a short time, we'd only charge her for that, the same as if a man wanted longer treatments. It's the same with children."

Carlton Hair Corporation told The Press it charged $25 more for a woman's haircut than a man's.

Hairdresser Cassie Law said there were "very good reasons" for the difference.

"With a woman's haircut, you have to blow-dry it and generally do more styling and treatments. It takes a lot longer and is more technically difficult."

Law said that, if a woman came in with "short hair styled like a man's" she would drop the price.

"It would probably be about $10 more than a man's haircut because it still requires more styling and time, but it wouldn't be as much as the usual price for a woman's haircut."

Hush Hairstyling owner Brooke Bath said the salon charged $65 for a woman's cut, $20 more than a man's.

"The reason being is a man's haircut doesn't take as long. Also with a man's haircut there's no brush work or blow-waving."

However, Bath said she had altered the price for women with a short hairstyle.

The Press