Where the gender pay gap may start: At home

Companies have taken a lot of heat about the gender pay gap, which results in women making just 82 cents for each dollar a man earns. But mom and dad play a role as well, according to a new study indicating the pay gap starts at home.

Parents pay their boys more than twice as much allowance as they give their girls. That's a finding from an analysis of millions of transactions conducted by 10,000 families on the online allowance platform BusyKid. The pay gap is present, though not as dramatic, even when parents pay their kids "bonuses," said BusyKid Chief Executive Gregg Murset.

To be specific, the average boy gets a $13.80 weekly allowance. The average girl gets less than half as much -- just $6.71. Parents pay boys an average bonus of $17.01, while girls get $15.52.

"It was shocking to see how much of a pay gap there was on our platform," he added. "I don't think this is intentional, but it's happening."

BusyKid is an online platform for parents with children age 5 through 17. The site allows parents to pay their kids to perform chores, ranging from brushing their teeth and flossing to mowing the lawn or cleaning the bathroom. Each chore has a suggested pay rate, some paying more than others. However, suggested pay for chores is based on the child's age, not their gender.

"Our platform is gender-agnostic," says Murset. "But parents can decide which chores to assign to which kids, and they can change our suggested rate of pay, if they want to. That's where the gender gap is coming in."

Indeed, gender differences don't seem to play any role in the 20 most commonly assigned chores on the platform. BusyKid suggests paying kids 50 cents to tend the pets or clean the bathtub, and $1 to do homework. The suggested pay for folding and putting away laundry is $2, as is the payment for helping to make dinner. Dusting the furniture, making the bed, loading the dishwasher and taking out the trash get equal pay -- 50 cents.

Bonus payments are generally for kid-suggested chores that aren't listed on the platform -- washing the car or getting straight-As, for instance.

Murset speculates that some of the pay gap may come from parents paying their boys to do basic grooming. The site suggests paying 25 cents to brush your teeth or floss and 50 cents to shower.

"Girls don't seem to need as much incentive to take care of personal hygiene," he said.

Still, the fact that such a large pay gap exists during your children's formative years may be something to ponder.

"This is a good opportunity for parents to think about what they're doing and what message they're sending by their actions," Murset said. "These findings can be a great conversation starter for parents who might be looking for a way to discuss the financial world with their kids."

charts-bars-ed.png