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The little-kid wage gap: Boys are making more allowance money than girls
Even more annoying: They're spending less time on chores
 
Wage inequality begins at an early age.
Wage inequality begins at an early age. Thinkstock

File this under too cruel for school.

New data from the Australian bank Westpac has shed a glaring light on pint-sized wage inequality.

The bank found that not only do young boys earn a higher weekly allowance than young girls, but they actually spend less time on chores.

On average, boys spend 2.1 hours a week on chores and earn an average of $48 (Australian), while girls toil for 2.7 hours and earn $45, the research found. Meanwhile, boys save 29 percent of their allowance earnings, while girls save 25 percent.

Previous studies have come to similar conclusions.

A 2006 study from the University of Michigan of 3,000 kids ages 10 to 18 found that girls do two more hours of housework each week than boys — and that boys are 10 percent more likely to get paid for their work.

Another study, published in the Electronic International Journal of Time Use Research (my all-time favorite publication), also showed that girls do more housework than boys.

Gai McGrath, Westpac's retail banking general manager, told Australia's Daily Telegraph that boys tend to be assigned outdoor work, like mowing the lawn and washing the car, while girls are working inside, cleaning and laundering.

"Some chores tend to have a higher monetary value, like mowing the lawn," she said.

You see where this is going.

Little boys are taking jobs outside the home (albeit only in the yard), getting paid more, doing less actual hours of work, and saving more dough — imbalances that are carried on through adulthood.

Fifty years after John F. Kennedy signed the Equal Pay Act to stamp out wage discrimination on the basis of gender, women are still making about 81 cents for every dollar men make (though the numbers are often disputed).

On top of that, Bloomberg reported just this week that among top executives who run companies on the S&P 500, women make 18 percent less than men. Even more disturbing: They only hold about 8 percent of such jobs.

And the wage gap is not the only parallel. A 2012 study from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development showed that across the developed world, women spend more time each day working than men, if you include unpaid work.

The reasons for wage inequality among adults is a little more complicated than the type of job being performed, though that's part of it. Women are more likely to work low-wage "pink-collar" jobs like teaching, child care, nursing, and cleaning.

Another reason might be that women who seek higher pay are sometimes stigmatized. "Even people who believe women deserve what they’re asking for often peg them as selfish and not likable, which isn’t the reaction men get when they demand more,” M.J. Tocci, director of the Heinz Negotiation Academy for Women at Carnegie Mellon University told Bloomberg. The constraints of motherhood may also play a part.

It would be great to end with stats showing the wage gap closing. Unfortunately, this is not the case. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported this year that in 2012 the pay gap actually widened. In 2011, women made 82 percent of what men made, while in 2012 the split was 81 percent.

 
Carmel Lobello is the business editor at TheWeek.com. Previously, she was an editor at DeathandTaxesMag.com.

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