Biologically and socially, boys and girls are completely different creatures. This isn’t necessarily bad, but gender differences seep into financial situations, too. It can mean your child is at a financial disadvantage without strong guidance in areas of money.
The Gender Pay Gap
The gender pay gap is a disparity between the pay for females versus males. In professions that traditionally have been dominated by women, the gender pay gap is not as severe, or women earn more than men, but overall, men tend to earn more than females.
The factors that cause women to earn less than men are complex and still are not well understood, but underlying social factors might play a part. For example, until the 1960s, women traditionally did not work outside of the home except under special circumstances (e.g., the world wars, loss of a husband). The social view was that the woman’s place was not in business, but rather rearing children. The man’s “job,” conversely, was to be the breadwinner and to work for an employer to support his wife and any children. Another area that creates the gender pay gap is the jobs women get or take—even when in the same field as their male counterparts, women tend to have lower-level or less complex jobs. As Eve Tahmincioglu notes in her 2012 MSN article, “Gender Pay Gap Persists as Women Age,” Paypal reports that pay for women also stops growing sooner than pay for men stops.
Not So Happy Unions
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, as of 2010, roughly half of all marriages end in divorce. It is not unusual for divorcees to remarry. The number of single parents is rising, however.
What It All Means
Even though more women than ever are entering the workforce, this doesn’t necessarily mean that women enjoy the same financial security men do. The high rate of separation, divorce and remarriage complicates financial issues, as well, with individuals being more likely than in the past to deal with factors such as alimony, child support, legal fees and paying off debts acquired in previous relationships. Women are given custody of children more often than men, and many men do not pay the alimony or child support ordered.
In general, the current “state of things” means that, as a parent or caregiver, you might want to be a little more fervent in your financial lessons if you are responsible for a girl. Sons certainly need to know how to manage their money, too, but girls simply are not as statistically likely to have as much money to spare even when times are good. They need to be particularly savvy when it comes to finance—in fact, as Alex Seitz-Wald of Thinkprogress.org noted in his 2012 blog entry, “Gender Pay Gap Is Largest on Wall Street,” the financial sector is where the gender pay gap is the worst!
Keep in mind, too, that boys and girls are tempted to spend in different ways once they reach adulthood based on social constructs. For instance, a son might want to splurge on top-of-the-line electronics, whereas females, who tend to focus a little more on appearance, might cave and purchase a closet full of designer clothes. It’s still spending either way, but the root causes of the spending (i.e., what compels your son or daughter to buy psychologically) are not necessarily the same and therefore need different discussions and preventative tactics.