Here’s a new take on the gender gap you may not have expected. It’s called The Parent Gift Gap, and it could be seeing Australians spending more money on Father’s Day than we are on Mother’s Day.
Research out today from the Commonwealth Bank reveals that its customers spent 15% more in the lead up to Father’s Day in 2017 than they did in the lead up to Mother’s Day.
Doesn’t really seem all that fair, given mothers already face their own gender pay gap.
Nor does it seem fair given the additional domestic and caring responsibilities women take on at home over their male counterparts, despite the fact mothers are entering the workforce in greater numbers than ever before.
As HILDA research recently found, we’ll be waiting another 30 years before we close the housework gender gap at the current rate of change.
Then there’s the unpaid and unacknowledged emotional labour that women do — and there’s plenty of that occurring in the lead up to Father’s Day.
And what about the hit to their careers that mother’s face? Their diminished spending capacity? Their missing retirement savings and superannuation? The pregnancy discrimination they deal with? The risks to their health and wellbeing? The data is clear, there’s a significant ‘Motherhood Penalty’ in Australia, and it’s getting worse.
Not that spending on gifts can make up for any of these factors.
So what explanation could there be for why we’re spending more on Dads than Mums?
One factor, as evidenced by the Commonwealth customer spending data, is a rise in spending on tech and gadgets for fathers.
Another factor, that wasn’t shared in the CBA report, could be that mothers are increasingly caring less about Mother’s Day and the commercial push to spend and give that comes with it.
They might just be over it.
As Jane Caro recently wrote on Women’s Agenda: “Mothers are among the most discriminated against people on the planet. They work harder, for longer, often in under-valued caring professions where employment is becoming more precarious, but for less pay.”
Making mothers feels special on one day a year is not going to make up for that.
Then there’s the 765,000 Australian families headed by single parents, the majority of whom are female, and the fact they’re often excluded from being celebrated on Mother’s Day.
Of course there could be many reasons why spending patterns vary in the lead up to these parent days. But the Commonwealth Bank’s message with this data is to see it as an important reminder to “keep an eye on spending”.
A good thing to consider if you plan on (or already have) putting in the financial, emotional and physical energy into Father’s Day this weekend.