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The Chore Pay Gap: Daughters Still Doing More + Getting Paid Less

Written by Katie Hintz-Zambrano

Photography by Ceren Lee & Family, Photographed by Lauren Apel

We’ve all heard of the gender pay gap in the workplace (including the so-called “motherhood penalty” and “fatherhood bonus”), but research shows that inequitable compensation between boys and girls starts in the home, with chores and allowance. An August 8th piece in The New York Times crunches a series of recent studies and data to report the following important takeaways, which are must-reads for any parent:

*Girls are still doing more chores than boys. One recent study looking at 6,358 high school students from 2003-2014 found boys aged 15-19 spend on average 30 minutes a day on housework, while girls in the same age group clock in 45 minutes. In another study, boys aged 13-18 spent a little under 30 minutes on chores, and girls spend a little over 30 minutes (the tightening gap between the two can be attributed to boys increasing their time spend on housework by 29% from 2002 to 2014, and girls decreasing their housework by 27% in the same time period).

*Children of college-educated parents spend less time on chores. Their daughters spend 25% less time on chores than the daughters of less educated parents. However, there’s still a gender gap, with the sons of college-educated parents still doing less chores than their daughters (around 11 minutes less).

*Boys are paid more allowance than girls. According to a study of 10,000 users of the BusyKid chore app, boys using the app earned an average of $13.80 a week, twice what girls earned in a week ($6.71).

*The types of chores for boys and girls differ. Boys are getting paid for personal hygiene tasks, like brushing their teeth and taking a shower. Girls are more likely to be paid for cleaning. Boys tend to do chores outdoors (mowing the lawn, taking out the trash), and girls indoors (cooking, cleaning, laundry). The latter trend is also seen to carry over into adulthood.

*This gender chore gap isn’t just an American thing. In a recent study of 12-year-olds in 16 countries “across the economic spectrum,” girls did more household chores than boys.

*The gender chore gap is narrowing a little. And it’s in one particular area—caring for family members, older relatives, and younger siblings. A decade ago, boys were only spending half as much time as girls on caregiving. Now they spend an equal amount of time. Researchers think this change might lead to a future generation of more involved fathers. This same trend has been seen internationally.

*Stats on the gender chore gap in adults are still sobering. While men are spending more time on housework and women are spending less time, the gap is still sizable. Married men spend 1.1 hours a day on housework (up from 55 minutes in 1983) and married women spend 2.2 hours a day (down from 3.8 hours in 1983). The Times notes that researchers believe “shouldering more responsibilities at home is a big reason women are paid less than men and fall behind men in their careers.”

*Kids are watching what we do. The Times reports that sons of working mothers spend more time on housework and childcare as adults. When kids see their fathers doing household tasks, it predicts their attitudes about the division of housework as young adults. “Chores are really practice for adult living, so the problem is it just gets generationally perpetuated,” University of Kentucky psychology professor Christia Spears Brown tells The Times.

Where do you fall into this trend with your family? Feel free to sound off in the comments about your experience with paid and unpaid chores in your own household—for both kids and adults. And for more on the chore gap, head over to The New York Times.

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