Life ain't fair. Picture: iStock
Life ain't fair. Picture: iStock

Even pocket money has a gender pay gap

I WAS 10 years old when I first experienced the gender pay gap. I had just finished setting the table, vacuuming and putting clean clothes back in everyone's cupboards and it was payday.

I got one gold coin, which I was thrilled with until I saw my younger brother's crisp $5 note.

Wait just a damn second. I had completed my domestic chores dutifully every day for a week. He had washed the family car once. And yet here he was, pocketing more than double my weekly wage.

In fact, both his "jobs" - washing the car and mowing the lawn - paid extravagantly more than my traditionally female domestic tasks. And what's more, I did mine (largely) when or occasionally without being asked, while he had to be cajoled into doing his.

At 32, I now know this wasn't just my parent's way of showing my brother was their favourite child - it's simply the way the world works.

Men get paid more and do less, with women earning an average of 15% less than men and shouldering the vast majority of unpaid domestic work. The 2016 census found the typical Australian woman does between 5 and 14 hours of unpaid housework a week, compared with less than five hours for the average man.

And this disparity begins before children have even reached high school.

A recent investigation by the ABC found that girls are bearing the brunt of gender discrimination from as young as four.

The report found that Australian girls are doing more housework than boys, are helping out more at school and contributing more to local clubs and organisations.

And when it comes to pocket money, girls are still getting the shaft, with more boys getting paid (53% of boys compared to 49% of girls) and males generally receiving much more than their female counterparts.

Boys dominated the top four pocket money pay brackets, while girls were more likely to receive pay in the bottom two brackets or not be paid at all (just like in the real world).

The types of chores allocated to girls and boys were similarly sexist, with more girls doing cleaning and caring jobs, looking after siblings and helping out in the community.

The motivations for children helping were also skewed. More than 80% of girls helped just to make the world a better place, while boys were more likely to do their jobs to get paid (too real).

"We have to address and challenge these stereotypes that say this is the sort of work that women do and this is the sort of work that men do," Libby Lyons, director of the Workplace Gender Equality Agency, told the ABC.

"And clearly the results of this survey are telling us that we have to challenge those stereotypes in the home, from when children first start to help around the home.

"It's really legitimising the undervaluing of women's work if we say it's ok to pay girls and boys differently as such a young age."

I, for one, accept this challenge. As the mother of two young daughters I'm committed to doing things differently.

And it starts with equitable division of housework and a mix-up of gender roles. And when my daughters get older they will be able to choose any chores they want, be it helping mummy mow the lawn or helping daddy do the dishes.

This story originally appeared on Whimn and has been republished with permission.

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