As a nation, are we setting our girls up for a lifetime of earning less?

As a nation, are we setting our girls up for a lifetime of earning less?

little girl
This is the reality for Australian girls in 2018: Boys earn more in pocket money than them from an early age and when those boys become men–according to the current gender pay gap–they will earn more in the workplace too.

Meanwhile, girls are doing more unpaid chores than boys in order to get that smaller portion of pocket money. They are more likely to be encouraged into domesticated studies, and as women, do more unpaid work subsequently earning less.

As a parent or Fairy Godmother at times, I’ll often – rightly or wrongly – hush adult conversations or news about these gender truths if they occur in front of my eldest daughter.

My thinking is that she’s too young to know this painful reality, and I’m still hopeful that one day the dream of gender equality will come true.

But what’s becoming increasingly clear is that achieving gender equality is not happening fast enough and the Turnbull Government just doesn’t get it.

As a nation are we failing girls, and failing to future proof our own economy?

In the United Kingdom, all companies with more than 250 employees must now report their gender pay gap data which has led to companies being named and shamed. As such, we are seeing greater efforts to address gender pay gaps by leading organisations.

In Australia, the reporting of remuneration data to the organisation responsible for collecting it, the Workplace Gender Equality Agency (WGEA), is not published. Instead, WGEA asks non-public sector employers (large private sector companies and NGOs) with 100 or more employees to submit a report annually against six key gender equality indicators. As a result of this difference, there is less pressure on companies to make change on gender diversity.

Without small changes such as this, we are showing a real lack of leadership on gender equality. And without leadership, we can expect more of the same for longer. That’s the same for business, schools and Australian families.

What’s needed are government policy measures to enact and manage the social change that comes with achieving gender equality, as it affects both girls and boys, and men and women at work and in the home.

The lack of such leadership means we are also ignoring a growing body of research that suggests that a mining-like boom could eventuate if we became better at supporting more women into the workforce, particularly after having children.

This month, I’ll talk to several classrooms of school girls to talk about money.  I’m not being paid to do so, just responding to a call for help.

As it stands, financial literacy as taught in maths, is not a compulsory subject in years 11 and 12 at Australian high schools. This needs to be improved at a government level rather than solely driven by individuals and businesses.

For my part, I’ll be stress the the importance of having your own money to the young girls I speak with, and shedding light on the new opportunities available to them as future leaders and wealth builders.

I’m still mulling over whether I’ll raise the impact of parenting, the national gender pay gap of 15.3 per cent and superannuation savings gap of about 30 per cent, but it’s on the cards.

My efforts to educate women on money are small in comparison to the many people and businesses already working in this space, particularly in schools, and there are some truly amazing minds and programs out there making a difference to younger Australians.

But what we need to see is greater leadership from government on gender equality, because we have a nation of girls and women who want more than the Cinderella dream, and a growing number of businesses and schools who get that this is a problem that needs attention.

 Bianca Hartge-Hazelman is a contributor to Women’s Agenda and is the founder of the Financy Women’s Index and Financy.com.au

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