A number of reports reveal that the wage gap actually begins from the time we arere kids, with girls more likely to be assigned household chores than boys and paid less of an allowance. As Soraya Chemaly writes in Salon, girls spend two more hours per week doing household chores than boys and tend to be paid less in the form of an allowance for doing domestic chores:
A 2009 study conducted by University of Michigan economists found a two-hour gender disparity in responsibilities per week in a study of 3,000 kids. That same year, Highlights magazine, a children’s publication, surveyed its readers and found that 75 percent of girls had chores, while just 65 percent of boys did.
A website that helps parents teach children about earning and using money, pktmny, finds that there are indeed ”significant divides based on gender, age and the nature of the task being undertaken by each child.” Girls are more likely to do housework such as vacuuming or doing the dishes and to be paid less than boys, who are instead more likely to perform chores outside the house like mowing the lawn or shoveling snow.
That is, as Chemaly points out, girls are far more likely to do tasks indoors and in the house while boys are given tasks to do outside. Parents still tend to delegate chores in a way that is likely to perpetuate gender disparities in their children’s future employment and in society as a whole.
Other research suggests that such gender disparities experienced at a tender age in childhood can have lifelong consequences. A Pew Research study has found that men who grew up with sisters were more likely to say that their spouse did more housework; they were also more likely to be socially conservative and to be Republicans.
We do not, though, have to be stuck in a perpetual cycle of wage discrepancy. Findings such as those of the Pew study can serve as an impetus for parents to strive to create an egalitarian climate in their households. We all can vacuum, dust and do laundry; some might say that parents who do not teach all their kids such are failing to teach essential life skills. Yard work and washing cars most definitely should not be tasks reserved for boys.
Today’s college students have seen a woman at the head of the U.S. State Department for most of their lives. There are certainly far fewer women CEOs than men but there are plenty of women in positions of influence and power. Why not start creating a more equal society from the start, with equal allowances and an equitable division of labor inside the house and out?
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