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24 January 2017

Girls being given less financial independence than boys

Girls are still getting less than pocket money than boys, with boys receiving 20 per cent more than girls, according to the latest monitoring report from market research agency Childwise. 

The Childwise report is based on online surveys with 2000 schoolchildren and reveals not only the inequality between boys and girls in terms of hard cash, but also, and I think, more worryingly, the different messages parents give their sons and daughters about handling money.

Whereas boys aged five to 16 get an average of £10.70 a week from either pocket money, payment for chores, or paid work, girls of the same age get just £8.50 and the gap widens as the children get older.

Childwise found that between the ages of 11 and 16 the gap grows to 30 per cent, with boys receiving an average weekly income of £17.80 and girls of the same age lagging behind with £12.50.

Not only do girls get less money, they are also less likely to receive regular payments than boys, and are more dependent on others to both buy things for them and to manage money on their behalf. In short, they are given less financial independence.

And I, for one, don't understand why. 

My mother wasn't a particularly emancipated woman, but she always made sure she had her own money, and autonomy over the way in which she spent it, and she brought me up to appreciate the importance of a woman having some financial independence. When, in the 1970's I was a stay-at-home mum (no childcare back then!), she gave me a small monthly allowance which she stressed was to be spent upon me, and not upon either the children or the house. I used it to finance the Open University degree which provided me with a solid foundation for a well-paid career. 

My father too discussed his financial arrangements with me from an early age, a practice which not only ensured I understood the importance of making proper provision for a pension, but also stood us in good stead in his later years, when it became necessary for me to become more involved in his finances. 

So, this disparity in pocket money isn't just about the gender pay gap, important though that is. There are all sorts of reasons for ensuring that girls, as well as boys, know how to handle money.

And yet, fifty years on from my childhood experiences, we find that parents of girls are more likely to keep hold of their daughters' money, then hand it over when it is required.

As Childwise's research manager, Jenny Ehren, has said:

"The data points towards an early imbalance in the way parents educate their children about money matters and financial independence. Children pick up gender clues all around them, some subtle, and some not so subtle. The challenge for parents is to avoid inadvertently perpetuating these gender divisions themselves, and to help children learn the skills to be a confident and independent adult."

You can purchase the Childwise Monitor report here - but not for pocket money; it costs £1800. 

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