The Danish Board of Equal Treatment, the government body tasked with ensuring equality, has issued a ruling requiring hair salons to charge men and women the same amount for haircuts.
Reuters reports that the board recently ruled that charging men and women different prices for haircuts, even considering differences in hair length and the time needed to perform services, was illegal.
A complaint was filed by a woman who was upset at having to pay $18 more for a haircut than men. The board ruled in her favor and ordered the salon in question to pay her 2,500 crowns (about $450).
The Danish trade organization for hairdressers slammed the ruling as "absurd."
"It takes, quite simply, longer with women," Connie Mikkelsen, head of the country's organization for independent hairdressers and beauticians, told Reuters.
The board's decision, which has been appealed, will likely keep the bureaucrats busy, as it must now be determined how hairdressers will set pricing for their services. Will they charge by hair length, standard of cut, or time?
"Measuring time will lead to a discussing of hair length-- what is medium length, and what is long," Mikkelsen told Reuters. "It will end in a series of conflicts with customers."
Critics say this is an example of a nanny state government run amok, although many Danes pride themselves on having one of the most equitable societies on earth. Denmark ranks 7th on the World Economic Forum's 2012 Global Gender Gap Index. The United Nations ranked Denmark 16th in gender equality in 2011. The United States finished 4th on that index; neighbors Sweden (10th),Germany (9th) and fellow Nordic nations Norway (1st), Iceland (14th) and Finland 22nd) also fared well. Danish females earn about 74 percent as much as men, and nearly 37 percent of the country's parliamentarians are women.