Three ways parents can start to close the gender gap

8 March 2016

Elizabeth McLardy is a CPA with over a decade of experience working with top ASX listed companies and boards in Australia and overseas. Her experience and expertise is in accounting, finance, IT and human resources management. Her aim is to inspire families to feel passion for their finances. Find our more here:

According to a recent Oxfam report it is going to take 75 years to achieve economic gender equality in Australia. That is too long to wait! Nobody should accept that, especially not parents.

As an accountant and mum I want to empower both my son and daughter to be money smart and able to pursue whatever dreams they choose.

However, the gender pay gap and gender financial literacy gap is both frustrating and economically flawed. So, how can parents turn this passionate frustration into real action to achieve positive change?

A recent study from investment firm T. Rowe Price showed that boys and girls are not equally prepared at home for managing money matters and encourages parents to take action to change this.

Mums and dads have a great opportunity to work together to prepare their kids’ financially and start to close the gender gap. There is no better place to start than in their own household. Here are three simple ways to get started:

Talk about money

Make sure you talk to your kids about money regardless of their gender.

The 2014 Parents, Kids & Money survey by T. Rowe Price found that boys and girls aged 8 to 14 years are not equally prepared for their financial futures as girls have less conversations about money with their parents.

According to a recent Girl Scouts’ study only 12% of girls (aged 8 – 17) feel very confident about making financial decisions

Just by talking to your sons and daughters about their financial behaviour and getting them to identify themselves as a spender or saver is a great way to get started. Then you can move on to other financial concepts and topics like savings plans, goal setting and donating.

T.Rowe Price recommends talking to your kids about money at least once a week.

Don’t let your anxieties rub off on your children

A new study in the Journal of Educational Psychology, found that parents personal unease with maths and finances can rub off on their children.

In such a complex and fast paced consumer environment it is easy as a parent to feel overwhelmed by your family finances. So talk to your partner about your anxieties and make a plan to resolve them. This way can work through your fear of numbers as a team and make sure they don’t rub off on your children.

Eliminate stereotypes

The perception that boys are good at maths and science and girls are better at language and writing has been found in recent research to be heavily influenced by their social environment.

So eliminate stereotypes in your household and encourage both your son and daughter to develop their financial skills.

Kids’ learn as much by example as by instruction to make sure as parents you are both equally involved in managing your family finances. If Mum has less financial authority than Dad then this will be difficult to convince them that this isn’t the natural order of things.

It is also important that your kids’ understand the financial value of caregiving and that there are different ways to contribute to a household.

Sure, closing the gender gap and women’s financial futures is complicated but just by taking some simple steps in our own households we can prepare our children for the working world.


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