Are you familiar with the “motherhood penalty?” Well, you should be.
According to an article published earlier this week, the “motherhood penalty” is identified in a recent study as one of the reasons why women make 81 cents of every dollar a man makes. When, in fact, research also shows that having children raises wages for men, even correcting for the number of hours they work.
The gap between what mothers earn and what childless women and males earn is significant, and the gap between mothers and childless women has not narrowed since the 1980’s — even though the share of working mothers with young children has risen from 47% in 1975 to 70% in 2015. The reasons cited for such slow progress are the lack of both paid parental leave and subsidized childcare.
Sounds unfair, right? But, maybe you think that it does not happen that way in the law profession. Think again. The example of a law firm was specifically cited in the article.
“You’re a female associate. Should you be considered for partnership at the end of your seven years, when you took nine months off?”
The study came out of the University of Massachusetts and draws on research conducted by the University of Michigan’s Panel Study of Income Dynamics. That research tracked approximately 18,000 individuals from 5,000 families since the study began in 1968.
And, yes, it is against the law to punish an employee for having family responsibilities. But, employers know what to say and how to say it to remain within the law. And although cases alleging discrimination based on family responsibilities have “skyrocketed” in recent years, the total number of cases still remains small, and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) lacks funds to proactively police the issue.
Sad but true.