The Gender Pay Gap Begins Before You Even Start Working

Studies have found that boys earn WAY more than girls

The gender pay gap doesn’t just start when you earn your first paycheque. Separate studies have revealed the roots of gender inequality lead all the way back to childhood.

BusyKid, an American app used by parents to educate kids on financial literacy and independence by managing pocket money, released a report that shows the gender pay gap starts as soon as children start engaging with economics.

According to BusyKid, the average boy earns about R190 in pocket money while girls earn R90 – a whole R100 difference. According to Bustle, BusyKid CEO Gregg Murset told CNN that parents are most likely unaware of how they’re perpetuating the gender pay gap by placing a higher financial value on chores based on traditionally assigned roles for boys and girls.

The app explains that based on their data, boys are given more opportunity to earn money than girls. According to their analysis, boys earn and spend more on themselves while girls earn less and spend more on giving back.

It’s not just about pocket money

Not only are girls compensated way less than boys in terms of their time, energy and labour, but when rewarding kids with bonuses for extra chores and projects done, HelloGiggles reports that boys get an estimated R230 while girls earn about R210. These discrepancies may not seem like a big deal, but it’s pretty telling that gender inequality doesn’t just impact adults.

The assumed value of work between women and men is clearly such an entrenched ideology that we don’t even realise how we perpetuate it in our daily lives, even when teaching children about financial responsibility. We attach more value to what we perceive as ‘a man’s job’ than we do for what’s categorised as ‘work for women’, and that all goes back to the patriarchy and how it distributes privilege according to identity.

How do we find the balance?

Murset said there’s a ‘difference when it comes to the types of chores that boys and girls typically do. Let’s say cleaning the bathroom versus mowing the lawn.’ He goes on to explain that because mowing lawns may seem like a task that requires more labour, the worth of the reward versus the reward for cleaning is much higher.

These biases are gendered and looking at the pay gap for adults, where women are paid much less than our male counterparts for exactly the same job, there’s a serious need to confront and reexamine what we value in work and who we value.

girl money


It’s not just BusyKid that’s been investigating where the gender pay gap all began. International bank Santander conducted a survey measuring the differences in pay between boys and girls in the UK, and found that boys earn an estimated R120 while girls earn R81. The survey also justifies BusyKid’s findings, based on their US data, that boys are getting paid more for good behaviour and receiving more gifts than girls.

It’s not all doom and gloom, though. Murset says that starting these conversations is a necessary catalyst for change if we’re going to start dismantling the root causes of why the gender pay gap exists in the first place. ‘These findings can […] be a great conversation starter for parents who might be looking for an opening on how to discuss the financial world with their kids,’ he says.

What are the stats in SA?

Currently, South Africa is ranked 19 in the World Economic Forum report for gender inequality. The countries with the most gender equality are Iceland, Norway, Finland and Rwanda. At the bottom of the list are Syria, Pakistan, Iran and Yemen.

According to Africa Check, South African women earn 23% less than men in comparison to Iceland’s 14%. Supporting that estimate, Stats SA conducted a survey in 2015 that found men earn an average income of R3 500 per month while women earn R2 700. The National Income Dynamic Study also calculated the gender wage gap at 25%.

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