Girls Do More Chores and Get Paid Less: The Gender Gap Starts Early

Can it really be that a source of the stubborn gender wage gap in the workplace is how girls and boys are treated at home? Claire Cain Miller of the New York Times reports new research that supports this idea. What has the treatment of children in the home got to do with adults in the workplace? Researchers agree that one big reason for the gender pay gap is that because women often carry a bigger share of the responsibility for home maintenance and childcare, they may work fewer hours for some part of their career and fall behind men in pay and career advancement. Miller cites researchers as explaining that “achieving equality . . . will require not just preparing girls for paid work, but also teaching boys to do unpaid work.” The roles children play in the home growing up shape the roles they take as adults.

Miller reports new studies that show “girls still spend more time on household chores. They are also paid less than boys for doing chores and have smaller allowances.” The gender pay gap, and the gaps in responsibility for housework start early. Here are some of the findings reported by Miller from these new research studies:

  • One study found that boys ages 15 to 19 do about half an hour of housework a day while girls do about forty-five minutes. Housework is defined as cooking, cleaning, pet care, yard care, and home and car maintenance.
  • Another study based on American Time Use Survey diaries between 2003 and 2014 of 6,358 high school students aged 15 to 19 found differences based on the education level of parents. College-educated parents expected daughters to spend slightly less time on chores than do parents with a high school education. Both sets of parents expect girls to spend more time than boys overall, and expectations for boys from both sets of parents have not changed.
  • Another study found that boys are paid more allowance for doing chores. This study analyzed 10,000 families using the chore app BusyKid and found that boys using the app earned twice what girls did for doing chores — $13.80 per week compared to $6.71 for girls.
  • This same study based on the BusyKid app also found that boys were more likely to be paid for personal hygiene like brushing their teeth or taking a shower while girls are paid for cleaning.

Scholars note that the gender gap for chores for children is worldwide. Miller cites Christia Spears Brown, a psychology professor at the University of Kentucky, as explaining, “Chores are really practice for adult living, so the problem is it just gets generationally perpetuated.”

We need to become aware of the lessons and training we are giving our children about gender-role expectations if we are ever going to see gender equality in work and pay in the future. How do you handle this challenge in your family? Please share with us what works to equalize gender roles in your family.

Anne Litwin, Ph.D. is an Organizational Development and Human Resources Consultant, Keynote Speaker, and Author of ‘New Rules for Women: Revolutionizing the Way Women Work Together.’

Originally published at www.annelitwin.com on September 17, 2018.

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