In their late 20’s to mid 30’s, a pay gap between men and women appears and increases rapidly over the next two decades – because it’s mainly during this time women have children (Claire Cain Miller, NYTimes, 2017).
Unequal division of work in the home, women not taking promotions or risks in preparation for the possibility of having children, and employers consciously or subconsciously holding back women because they assume they will become pregnant or “need” family leave contribute to the “maternal pay gap.” Today is Equal Pay Day, the day that women’s pay catches up to men’s pay for the former year, and we’re going there: talking specifically about the Maternal Pay Gap.
“It’s logical for couples to decide that the person who earns less, usually a woman, does more of the household chores and childcare,” Sair Kerr, economist says to the NYTimes, “but it’s also a reason women earn less in the first place. That reinforces the pay gap in the labor market, and we’re trapped in this self-reinforcing cycle.”
Mothers of the world – raise your hand if you find yourself somewhere in that cycle?
I left an arguably pinnacle job after having my third child because we just couldn’t afford fulltime childcare for three children in New York City. A reality that encompasses much more than a pay gap, but no social economic issue exists in isolation. My husband and I decided I would quit my job primarily because I made less than my husband.
“Are you having more children?” asked a white male interviewer to my shocked face in a final interview for a (less than desirable job) last fall. “I’m worried about her ability to do this job with 3 small children,” said another. I’ve interviewed for promotions in spankx to hide a 20-week belly.
But you chose to become a mother! Yes, I did. And I would absolutely do it again. Further, I recognize the privilege I have as a white heterosexual woman of good health, a childbearing body, and sufficient means to OWN the decision to have children & to be able to do so.
I can be grateful for and desire motherhood AND imagine equality in the professional workspace in the same body. And so can you.
Women (working outside the home and/or inside the home) how have you been affected by the maternal pay gap? Men, partners, and employers, how have you contributed to, or helped eliminate this discrepancy?
Be sure to view my instastory today with an expanded conversation on how the pay gap disproportionately affects women of color, and strive with me for policies, companies, and imaginations that work to chisel away this profoundly inherent inequality in our culture.
To continue exploring this topic, check out the following articles:
- The Gender Pay Gap is Largely Because of Motherhood
- Why Paying Mothers more could fix the gender Pay Gap
- The Gender Pay Gap is a result of being a Parent, Not Discrimination
- The Fatherhood Bonus and The Motherhood Penalty: Parenthood and the Gender Gap
- Cut the Gender Pay Gap by Increasing Parental Leave for Fathers
- The Motherhood Pay Gap: A review of the issues, theory and international evidence by Damian Grimshaw and Jill Rubery