Every year there’s a statistic that puzzles me – that boys apparently get more pocket money than girls.
This year’s Childwise Monitor Report has been quoted as finding that boys aged 5 to 16 get on average £2.20 a week more than girls of the same age, and that girls are far more likely to receive no regular income at all. Girls were also given less financial freedom, with items being bought for them, rather than them choosing what to spend their money on.
These findings have been consistent over at least two decades, and I do believe there must be something in them.
And if so, it’s worrying. First, why would a parent, or other family member, give a boy more pocket money than a girl? It just wouldn’t have occurred to me to do so. My children’s father and I gave our son and daughter the same weekly amounts at the same age, and it would not have occurred to us to do otherwise. What’s going on?
Second, why should a girl’s financial education be any different to that of a boy? As Childwise Research manager Jenny Ehren said “The data points towards an early gender imbalance in the way parents educate their children about money matters and financial independence. Boys are more likely to be entrusted with regular cash payments, while girls are more reliant on other people buying them items, or managing money on their behalf.”
So, it’s not just that families are perpetuating a gender divide in income, they’re also perpetuating a gender divide in financial awareness – but surely, we all need to know how to manage our finances. And when it comes to negotiating our salaries, if we enter into those negotiations knowing that we are worth more or less than our siblings, isn’t this going to influence our expectations about how much we should be paid? It’s no good lamenting that women ask for less than men do when we’re bringing them up to do so.