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Gender pay gap starts in childhood

Little girls receive £2.20 a week less than boys and are given less financial responsibility

Girls are being short-changed by their parents from an early age when it comes to the way in which pocket money is shared out between the sexes, a report reveals.

This scenario continues in their working life, with the gender pay gap showing women earn a lot less than men over the course of their careers.

The report by market research agency Childwise shows boys receive £10.70 on average each week from pocket money, paid chores or work, whereas girls in this age group receive £8.50. As they get older, the gap gets bigger, with boys aged 11 to 16 years receiving an average of £17.80 while girls of the same age get 30% less – just £12.50. Girls also have to rely more on their parents for finances because they are less likely to be given regular payments, depending more on other people to buy things for them and manage their money.

The report, based on online surveys featuring 2,000 children each year, reveals the different messages parents are sending to their offspring. Not only do girls miss out in terms of hard cash but also in terms of financial management.

While boys are given financial autonomy early on by receiving pocket money regularly, parents often hold on to their daughters’ money and hand it over when it is needed. Parents will buy expensive items such as clothes and cheaper products such as toiletries and makeup for their girls, which helps to bridge the gap; however, they are not being taught to manage money for themselves.

Childwise research manager Jenny Ehren said the survey shows there is an early gender imbalance in the way in which parents teach girls and boys about money matters and financial independence. She explained that children will be picking up these clues in the differences between the sexes; therefore, the challenge is for parents not to differentiate between the children. In this way, boys and girls can both learn the skills needed to grow up to be confident and independent.

This monetary equality will only worsen for girls in the workplace. Fawcett Society chief executive Sam Smethers ironically stated that giving daughters less pocket money than boys prepares girls for working life. She said that the figures show girls are being undervalued from an early age, so what chance do they have at work?

Statistics show that the current gender pay gap for full-time workers is now 13.9%. The Equality Act 2010 (Gender Pay Gap Information) Regulations 2017, which are expected to come into force on 6 April, will require employers with 250 or more employees in the UK to publish figures showing how large the pay and bonus gap is between the genders.

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