Should Women Pay More for Haircuts Than Men?

Denmark's Board of Equal Treatment rules sexes ought to be charged the same.

January 22, 2013, 12:24 PM

Jan. 23, 2013— -- Hairs are being split in Denmark as a new front line has opened up in the battle of the sexes over the price of a haircut.

The Danes have long considered themselves one of the world's leaders in promoting equal rights between men and women, but debate has been ignited after Denmark's Board of Equal Treatment attempted to tackle the longstanding disparity between the price of a haircut based purely on whether the customer is a man or a woman.

The trouble arose after a woman filed a complaint against a salon advertising haircuts for men at a lower price than for women. The board found that barber shops and salons charging women and men different prices for haircuts are violating Danish laws of equality.

But far from creating gender harmony, the ruling has drawn rage and disdain from Denmark's hair cutters.

Denis, the manager of Copenhagen's Z hair salon, said the reason his shop charges women more than men is for a very simple reason and has nothing to do with discrimination.

"We have different prices for men and women because it takes much longer to cut and style the longer hair that most women wear," he told ABC News.

Labor unions that represent barbers and hair stylists are outraged that they were never even consulted before the ruling.

"It is completely absurd that the Gender Equality Board, without even inquiring with us about the reason for various women's and men's rates, just declared them illegal," Connie Mikkelson, chairwoman of the Danish organization for independent hairdressers and cosmeticians, said to ABC News in a statement. "There is a reasonable explanation as to why there is this difference in price."

The board's decision has been appealed and it will be up to a court of law to decide if haircut pricing can be restructured in a more equitable way.

It has been suggested that instead of offering cuts for women or men, rates could be broken down for short, medium or long hair.

Of course, that kind of judgment call could create more problems than it solves.

"What is medium and what is long hair?" asked Mikkelson. "It will end in a series of conflicts with customers."