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The Gender Pay Gap Starts in Childhood

Parents Pay Girls Half the Allowance Paid to Boys

New data finds parents pay girls half the allowance paid to boys.

The gender pay gap starts much earlier than most people imagine with new data showing that parents, on average, pay boys twice as much for doing chores per week than girls. The chore app BusyKid analyzed 10,000 families in their database and discovered that the average boy earned $13.80 in weekly allowance, while the average girl received only $6.71. The results highlight how traditional 'girls' work' is viewed by parents as being less valuable than that often assigned to boys — and raise awareness of the concerning messages girls receive from an early age about what their work is worth. "It was interesting and shocking to see how much of a difference in pay there was between boys and girls in our network," says BusyKid CEO Gregg Murset. "I think this is an important wake-up call for parents to be cognizant of what they are paying to make sure they are being as fair as possible. I don't think any parent would intentionally pay differently based on gender, but clearly, it's happening."

Murset suspects that a significant part of this early gender pay gap comes from the division of jobs into "girls' work" and "boys' work," which academics call occupational segregation. "There's a difference when it comes to the types of chores that boys and girls typically do," he points out. "Let's say cleaning the bathroom versus mowing the lawn." The pay difference highlights how society traditionally undervalues work that is deemed "women's work." Though such undervaluing only explains part of the difference in pay since researchers have also found that even when girls and boys did the same job, such as babysitting, male babysitters still earned more than female ones. Since parents consider girls to be natural caregivers, they are not viewed as providing as valuable a service as male sitters who are seen as "older brother figures."

Socialization also plays an important role in girls not asking for what they're worth. Yasemin Besen-Cassino, sociology professor at Montclair State University and author of The Cost of Being a Girl, has found that, unlike male babysitters, female babysitters, for example, were more likely to be asked to do other chores like cleaning, dishes, or helping with homework. Many of the girls she interviewed knew they should ask for more money but were already worried about offending the family or losing the job. "We put this extra pressure on girls, especially the ones who do care work, that money is in opposition to care," she explains. "The minute something is monetized for women, it's seen as not loving and caring and being a team player."

If parents recognize these biases at play, however, they can confront them directly — and in the process, start important conversations about money with their daughters. "This is a really great opportunity for parents to start thinking about what they're doing and what message they're sending," Murset asserts. "This is a perfect conversation starter for parents who might be looking for ways to discuss their whole financial world with their kids — especially girls, frankly."

For books, toys, and other resources to teach kids of all ages about money management,  visit our blog post, 30 Resources to Teach Kids Financial Literacy. To read the full story, visit CNN.

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