The U.S. Marine Corps has stopped giving a regular allowance to male soldiers that had been used to buy underwear and replaced it with a stipend for female soldiers to buy dress shoes.
The policy change comes after an audit by the Government Accountability Office revealed that female servicemembers were spending far more out-of-pocket than their male counterparts on expenses such as clothing and uniform items, according to a report by Military.com.
The protocol known as the “Pink Tax” allowed systemic gender inequalities to emerge in which enlisted women spent more than $8,000 of their own money for clothing over the course of their careers, while men mostly enjoyed a free ride from the allowance, with some even pocketing extra cash in the process.
Female Marines never received the allowance for dress pumps even though they are required to wear them as part of the full-dress uniform.
The GAO investigation found that women regularly faced higher costs because certain essential clothing items were excluded from the stipend, leaving them to pay for it themselves.
“According to officials, this was an oversight and the Marine Corps plans to fix this to ensure female enlisted service members receive an annualized standard cash clothing allowance for dress pumps,” the report says.
The findings also prompted the three other military branches to review their policies.
“Beginning in fiscal year 2021, enlisted [Marine] males will no longer receive an annualized standard cash clothing replacement allowance for underwear, according to the officials,” the independent watchdog agency stated in its report. “Currently, males receive an annualized standard cash clothing replacement allowance for their underwear, but females do not.”
Women in the Marines will now receive an additional replacement allowance in addition to the current $50 one-time allotment, according to the report.