Does the gender gap extend to college savings?

Parents may be unwittingly favouring their sons when it comes to saving for their education

Does the gender gap extend to college savings?
Much has been said about the lack of equality in professional opportunities across genders. And according to new research, that divide may even extend into parents’ treatment of their sons and daughters.

Two financial-industry polls conducted this year suggest that when it comes to higher education, parents are setting aside more money for sons than for daughters, reported the Wall Street Journal.

One study, conducted by mutual-fund firm T. Rowe Price, polled 238 households that only had sons and 155 that only had daughters. Among boy-only households, 50% had money saved for their children’s college, compared to 39% of parents at girl-only homes. Eighty-three per cent of those that only have sons said they contribute at least monthly to their children’s college fund, compared to 70% of girl-only households.

“Parents should give a good hard look and make sure they are treating their children fairly and recognizing the potential of both their boys and their girls,” said Roger Young, a senior financial planner at T. Rowe Price.

Another study conducted by LendEDU, a student-loan marketplace, surveyed more than 1,400 graduates and found that daughters generally got less help paying for college than their male counterparts. Half said their parents paid nothing at all, while only 6% said their parents paid for a majority of their college education. Meanwhile, 43% of men reportedly got no help from their parents, while 10% their parents paid for a majority of their education.

Neither study delved into the reasons behind these differences, but some academics think that parents misguidedly expect girls to receive more scholarship money than boys since they tend to do better academically. Joe Carella, assistant dean at the University of Arizona’s Eller College of Management, postulated that boys are judged based on potential while girls are measured by their past performance — a double-standard that he’s seen from his studies of venture-capital funding for male and female entrepreneurs.

“It is a completely misguided and biased way to look at the way in which men and women perform, especially in environments when there is equal opportunity,” Carella said.

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