The gender wage gap isn’t just a problem the work force is grappling with; it starts at home with how you treat your kids.
Statistically, the gap between what men earn over women varies depending on race and location; women of colour earn significantly less than white men and white women. Women with children are also more likely to be penalised financially in the workplace, whereas fathers tend to have higher salaries that their childless counterparts.
The cause of this discrepancy is hotly debated, but most women have their own anecdotes about times they were overlooked for a promotion or discovered they made significantly less than their male co-workers. There is now further evidence that sexism is baked into how we’re taught about money — turns out, there’s even a gender wage gap among children.
Fast Company reports that a survey conducted of 1,000 parents by Giftcards.com revealed that how parents teach their kids about money is extremely gendered, and that girls in general receive far less money from gifts, chores, and allowance than boys:
For example, 61% of boys received a lesson from their parents on credit scores by the time they reached high school, compared with 46% of girls. Boys were also 9% more likely to be taught how to pay taxes, 5% more likely to be taught about bank accounts, 3% more likely to be taught about credit cards, and 2% more likely to receive an education on investing.
Boys were generally encouraged to focus on building wealth, while girls were given lessons on budgeting and tracking spending. Children also tend to receive their money lessons from the adult of the same gender, passing down lessons about money that they got from previous generations. The generations that built and maintained the wage gap.
So how do you avoid making this mistake with kids?
Question your own attitude towards money
If you’re in charge of teaching your kids about cash, be sure you’re aware of your own approach to it, and examine any internal biases you have about how you think you’re allowed to spend. Greg McBride, Bankrate.com’s chief financial analyst, told Fast Company that men tend to be “overly confident” with their investments and think they’re doing better than they are.
“The tendency for women to trade less frequently, to be more risk-adverse, and to be more focused on the long haul are byproducts of longer lifespans, the greater likelihood of having to support themselves and their children on one income, and a greater likelihood of outliving a spouse,” he says.
If you have a partner, make sure you’re on the same page and all your kids are getting the same lessons.
Make sure allowances are fair
This may seem like a no-brainer—if you have a boy and a girl who are around the same age, they should be receiving the same amount in allowance. But what seems fair as an idea isn’t always what’s actually practiced, and these numbers are startling:
The study also found that girls receive less money from their parents, with boys in high school and elementary school getting roughly $20 more on Christmas, $3 more for completing chores, and $1 more for allowance.
Do you pay your kids more for certain types of chores? Have you stratified allowances based on age, without consideration for gender? When birthdays and holidays come around, think about what kinds of gifts you’re getting for the kids as part of an overall investment in them; if you have relatives who routinely give money, make sure it’s the same amount. That might be an awkward conversation, but who gets what sends a message that can reverberate throughout your kids’ lives.
Consider your own example
Parenting is hard on its own and being stressed out by finances makes everything worse. But your kids are absorbing everything you express about money, regardless of gender. Be aware of what you say about work, cash flow, and financial problems.
“There’s so many parents who will offhandedly make these money-negative statements like, ‘We’re so broke,’ or, ‘The taxman takes everything,’ but a kid is going to take that at face value,” adds Paula Pant, the founder of AffordAnything.com. “If parents can instead make extremely thoughtful remarks, like, ‘In a year and a half we’d like to all go to Hawaii for a week, here’s how we’re thinking about it in advance,’ those types of conversations are quite useful,” she says.
This also means you can talk to them about the gender wage gap now so that they’re aware of it as they enter the workforce. Teaching boys to support girls at work is an important lesson, and everyone should learn early to advocate for themselves, negotiate, and strategize in the workplace.