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The Gender Wage Gap Begins During Childhood

America's gender wage gap is still a huge problem and even an international embarrassment. It's no wonder the topic has been coming up so much lately. But now, some especially startling data is rising to the surface about just how early the discrepancy begins.

America’s gender wage gap is still a huge problem and even an international embarrassment. It’s no wonder the topic has been coming up so much lately. But now, some especially startling data is rising to the surface about just how early the discrepancy begins.

boy mowing lawn

(Photo Credit: woodleywonderworks/Flickr)

Here are some alarming facts about the gender wage gap and children.

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1. Parents are more likely to give their sons an allowance than their daughters.

Sixty-seven percent of boys report getting an allowance from their parents compared with only 59 percent of girls.

2. And, girls do more chores than boys.

A study done by the University of Michigan found that girls, on average, do two more hours of housework a week than boys. They also found that boys spend nearly twice as much time playing.

3. Boys are more optimistic about their financial futures.

A survey conducted by Junior Achievement USA and The Allstate Foundation found that 35 percent of teen girls think they’ll make more than $35,000 at their first job, compared with 43 percent of boys.

4. Teenage girls plan to seek scholarships/grants more than boys when attending college.

Perhaps these young ladies are just being more forward thinking, or better financial planners, than their male counterparts. But, no matter how you cut it, 79 percent of teen girls, compared with 66 percent of teen boys, plan to seek scholarships and grants to help pay for college.

5. Concerns around saving money impact the decisions girls make about college more than boys.

According to the same study, 66 percent of teenage girls report that the rising costs of college have changed their future plans, versus 57 percent of teenage boys. Forty percent of girls say they are thinking about remaining in-state to save money on tuition costs, while only 30 percent of boys report the same.

These items speak for themselves in many ways, but one thing is clear and worth noting: workplace/career inequality issues are taking root a lot earlier than many of us suspected. Building awareness of these facts is likely the first step toward improving things. The biases we hold as individuals and a society about gender have a real and lasting impact, and it’s not going to change until we do.

Perhaps the gender chore gap reminds us that it’s not just employers that are responsible for the workplace inequalities we find so disturbing. Maybe we, as a society, have to take a good hard look at ourselves, our households, and even our children’s allowances and choices, in order to change the messages about gender that continue to be reinforced.

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How is workplace gender inequality experienced by children? We want to hear from you! Leave a comment or join the discussion on Twitter.


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Here’s a view I believe has been missing for 40 years in all the tens of thousands of reports about women and work: Society consists of two “worlds”: the world of work (the productive world) and the world of children (the reproductive world). Obviously each world needs the other for its survival, so the two worlds are equally important to civilization’s survival. Despite this equal importance, what do you suppose is the result thus far of the 40-year-old push for “gender equality”? It seems to be this: We are ending men’s dominance in the world of work (The Economist at… Read more »

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