Avoid the “Motherhood Wage Penalty”

girl in hamper

71 % of all mothers with children at home work and more than half of them are the only breadwinner for the family; and as soon as people know they are mothers those women are being hired less and being paid significantly less only because they are mothers.  This hidden inequality jeopardizes children and needs to be addressed.

See below for the surprising size and variations of this Penalty.  Knowing that, here are things everyone should do.

  1. If you are a woman looking for a job:  Don’t give any indication of being a mother on resume or interviews.
  2. If you are a hiring manager:  Don’t fall into this prejudice.  I personally have found mothers to be the most productive employees.  They know how to juggle priorities and just get things done without drama.  For a tough job, hire a mother.
  3. If you are a business owner or an executive:  Look for and correct for this hiring and wage-setting bias, set moderate maternity leave policiessupport childcare.
  4. If you are a policy maker:  Fund childcare for children 0-5.

The Facts:  Highlights from A Child Helps Your Career, if You’re a Man – NYTimes.com:

  • Summary:
    • Mothers are less likely to be hired for jobs, to be perceived as competent at work or to be paid as much as their male colleagues with the same qualifications.
    • For men, meanwhile, having a child is good for their careers. They are more likely to be hired than childless men, and tend to be paid more after they have children.
    • These differences persist even after controlling for factors like the hours people work, the types of jobs they choose and the salaries of their spouses. So the disparity is not because mothers actually become less productive employees and fathers work harder when they become parents — but because employers expect them to.
  • This bias affects and hurts low-income women more than all others
    • High-income men get the biggest pay bump for having children, and low-income women pay the biggest price,
    • Childless, unmarried women earn 96 cents for every dollar a man earns, while married mothers earn 76 cents
    • Ms. Budig found that on average, men’s earnings increased more than 6 percent when they had children (if they lived with them), while women’s decreased 4 percent for each child they had. [….] low-income women lost 6 percent in wages per child
  • How much of this is explainable?
    • It’s true that fathers sometimes work more after children, but that explains at most 16 percent of their bonus, she found. And some mothers cut back on hours or accept lower-paying jobs that are more family-friendly, but that explains only a quarter to a third of the motherhood penalty.
    • The majority of it, research suggests, is because of discrimination [According to a] study at Cornell in which the researchers sent fake résumés to hundreds of employers. They were identical, except on some there was a line about being a member of the parent-teacher association, suggesting that the applicant was a parent. Mothers were half as likely to be called back, while fathers were called back slightly more often than the men whose résumés did not mention parenthood.
  • [Ed note —The impact on U.S. households is immense]:  71 percent of mothers with children at home work, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, and women are the sole or primary breadwinner in 40 percent of households with children, according to data from the Pew Research Center.
  • What can be done?  In Ms. Budig’s previous work, she has found that two policies shrink the motherhood penalty: publicly funded, high-quality child care for babies and toddlers, and moderate-length paid parental leave.



Note: Image of girl hiding is from Time-trip.blogspot.com a history-based story site

Categories: All Posts, For Mothers, Poverty Data, Relevant Research

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