How Motherhood Affects Your Paycheck

Working moms still paid less than working dads

A report released Tuesday by the Government Accountability Office has some disturbing news for working women and particularly for working moms. Some highlights:

Women’s progress into the ranks of management have been minimal over the last decade: In 2007, about 40 percent of all manager were women, up just one percentage point from 2000, whereas women comprised 49 percent of all non-management workers.

Although women now earn 80.2 cents for every dollar that men do up from 62.3 cents in 1979 the gap is far wider for female managers who have children. Managers who are moms earn about 79 cents for every dollar paid to men who are dads, a gap that hasn’t budged since at least 2000, according to the New York Times.

“The greater toll that parenthood appears to take on women’s paychecks may help explain why, generally speaking, female managers are less likely to have children than their male counterparts,” the Times reports, noting that, in the latest statistics available, while only 57 percent of male managers did not have children, 63 percent of female managers were childless. What’s more, the male managers who had children had more kids, on average, than female managers with children. Oh, and women who had entered the managerial ranks were far less likely to be married (59 percent) than men who did (74 percent).

Though the report did not speculate about cause and effect Are these discrepancies a factor of discrimination? Hours worked? Some sort of self-selecting behavior? — Representative Carolyn B. Maloney, Democrat of New York and the chairwoman of the Joint Economic Committee, who requested the study, told the Times, “When working women have kids, they know it will change their lives, but they are stunned at how much it changes their paycheck. In this economy, it is adding insult to injury, especially as families are increasingly relying on the wages of working moms.”

Do the report’s findings surprise you? And if you had to hazard a guess, what do you think is going on? Is women’s lack of advancement into management positions pure discrimination? And why are women with children so poorly represented in those positions? Are moms self-selecting out of those roles, perhaps less interested in putting in the long hours? Are we more than willing but not given the opportunities? Are we just sick of banging our heads against the glass ceiling? Or … what?

Photo: Alan Cleaver

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