This is the sixth post in our series on Shoes and Gender.
In our previous post, we discussed adult shoe selection, finding that women have a vastly larger assortment than men to choose from. We find the same trends for assortment and pricing in the boys’ and girls’ categories as well. Thankfully, girls don’t have the Heels sub-category (can you imagine a baby in stilettos?), but they do have Flats, which boys do not. Boys have one small sub-category that girls do not: Uniform and School Shoes. In Figure 1, we see that boys have more product choice in Sneakers, Athletic, Oxfords, Loafers, and First Walkers, where girls have more Boots, Sandals, Crib Shoes, Outdoor, Clogs and Mules, and Slippers.
The asymmetry between boys having more “athletic” shoe assortment and girls having more “fashion” shoe assortment is much more pronounced in children’s shoes than in adults’. Also, bizarrely, boys have more First Walkers, but girls have more Crib Shoes and Slippers. Are little girls not supposed to be as active as little boys? It certainly seems that shoe brands think so. If girls are wearing sandals and boots (or crib shoes and slippers) where boys are wearing sneakers and athletic shoes (or first walkers), which gender will be more likely to participate in outdoor activities? From a selection standpoint alone, girls seem to be pushed into being “goody two-shoes” rather than athletes. (This 2012 Huffington Post blog post calls out Nike for doing exactly that.)
Figure 2 shows brand counts that closely mirror product counts, although girls have 47% more brands to choose from. Notably, children’s shoe brands show even greater gender selection disparity than adult shoe brands. Girls’ brands carry an average of 34% more products than boys’. Boys only have greater selection in First Walkers (4%) and Athletic shoes (46%).
Boys and girls have double the brand overlap in the top 15 brands that adults do. Figure 3 shows that most of the overlap is in athletic brands, including Nike, Sketchers, Stride Rite, Adidas, New Balance, Converse, Puma, Under Armour, Vans, and Keen. Just as with adults, Nike leads the product count for both genders, and we also see a Nike product count disparity between boys (5,000) and girls (2,000).
Interestingly, even though we found clear evidence of the Blue Tax in overall median pricing as we mentioned earlier, we don’t see it as clearly in Figure 3 as we did before. Looking at the most expensive brands, UGG Australia, at a median price of over $88.84 on the girls’ side, far outstrips Timberland, at a median price of over $68.66 on the boys’ side.
Figure 4, which shows the median prices by sub-category and gender, paints a much more vivid picture of the Blue Tax. Only one sub-category has a higher median price for girls’ shoes: Oxfords. Boys’ Crib Shoes are 92% more expensive than girls’, boys’ Boots are 82% more expensive, and boys’ Outdoor shoes are 54% more expensive.
Want to learn more? Check out our Shoes & Gender report now!
Also published on Medium.