April 12 was Equal Pay Day in the US, a day chosen because the date in the current year represents the number of extra days that a typical woman working full time would have to put in just to make the same as a typical man working full time in the previous year.
In conjunction with this date, a number of tech firms (Microsoft, Amazon, Facebook) disclosed employee pay equity numbers, comparing men’s and women’s pay working in the same roles at the same job levels. And the good news for the most part seems to be that Tech firms have pretty much achieved pay equality.
However, before we start popping the champagne, let me come out and say that the problem of pay equality is actually quite deeply entrenched and we start unconsciously teaching our children from the very young age of 5 or 6 to expect to be paid differently because of their gender.
According to a report on a study done in Australia in March 2016, boys earn $13 a week in pocket money on average, while girls get $9.60. That is a pay gap of 35% that would be exacerbated if we considered the inequality that is also present around girls being expected to help around the house with household chores much more than boys. Research done earlier in 2014 by Think Progress and others looking at the allowance and chore gaps between boys and girls is also very disturbing as it shows that girls are given the unconscious message very early on that chores were not valued as work and hence not rewarded (whereas boys were more likely to be rewarded for doing their chores), reinforcing gender behaviours around share of household work between men and women when they grow up and set up home.
So things need to change on two fronts – both around assignment of chores and paying for chores to be equal, as well as around ensuring that girls get more allowance generally. We need to educate our kids, both the boys and the girls, on pay equality from a young age, just like what ANZ has tried to do here in this video. And I hope that these young kids, especially the very determined young boy in the video, remember to use their voice to drive change on the issue when they grow up.