Motherhood penalty

The motherhood penalty is a term coined by Sociologists Who That argues in the workplace , working mothers encounter systematic Disadvantages in pay, Perceived competence, and benefits relative to childless women. Specifically, women may suffer a per-child wage penalty, resulting in a gap between non-mothers and mothers who are larger than the gap between men and women. They may also be worse at job-site evaluations than they are less dependent on, less dependable, and less authoritative than non-mothers. Thus, mothers may experience disadvantages in terms of hiring, pay, and daily job experience. [1] [2] [3]In attendance, non-mothers offered an average of $ 11,000 more than mothers. [4] An audit study also showed that prospective employers were less likely to call back mothers for interviews than non-mothers. [5] The motherhood wage penalty is not limited to the United States, Japan, South Korea, United Kingdom, Poland, and Australia. The penalty has not shown any signs of declining over time. [6]


The most frequently hypothesized explanation of the child’s earnings is that of childbearing and childrearing of formal education and on-the-job training. [5] However, evidence suggests that educational and training differences between mothers and non-mothers do not fully explain the penalty for motherhood. Lower wages for women with children may reflect the choices made by mothers. However, it may also reflect bias and discrimination. [7] These assumptions are important because they lead to different hypotheses of what the true causes of the gender wage gap are. [5]

Economic theories

Economic theories largely focus on comparing differences between the skills, traits, and behaviors of the workers themselves to explain the gender wage gap. In particular, some economic theories examines statistical discrimination, which is that employers apply an impartial standard to accurate estimates of worker productivity. [8]

Human capital theory

According to the human capital theory, having children diminishes the wages of mothers because of the development of human capital . [9] Both childbearing and childrearing, or gaining experience in the workforce. Research shows that mothers acquire fewer years of schooling and work experience than non-mothers. [5] Worldwide there is a tendency for more career-minded and highly educated women to postpone and often forgo childbearing. A study conducted in Britain founding the probability of being a mother with a woman’s increasing education level. [10]However, work experience, time in school, and employment breaks only explain one-third of the wage penalty for motherhood. [1]

Mothers can also make the most of their motherhood. [5] For example, mothers may be willing to accept lower rates of pay, such as flexible work schedules, access to paid leave, and part-time work hours. Lower paying jobs geared towards women supervisors, coworkers, and mentors and more supportive, family-friendly environment. Almost 50% of mothers who are employed full-time would prefer to work part-time, and 80% of mothers who are employed part-time view their situation as ideal. [11]However, part-time work is not a solution to gender inequality, as part-time workers reduce employment prospects, benefits, and earnings. A study done by Rebecca Glauber, shows that mothers do not get compensated for lower wages. Where they work in female-dominated jobs. This larger penalty is not offset by greater job satisfaction, greater access to part-time work schedules, flexible work hours, health insurance, paid sick and vacation time, or job-protected maternity leave. [11]

Work-effort theory

The work-effort theory partially overlaps with the human capital theory, but concentrates on the productivity of the workers. [12] This approach states that the wage rate can be discounted by mothers and non-mothers. [13]Productivity differences can occur with children at work. [13] Additionally, mothers may also be less productive at work because they are saving their energy for their “second shift” at home. [12] Many mothers face responsibilities at home with childcare, cooking, and cleaning. If mothers are storing their energy for later, they are less productive at work. [12]The lower effort at work can reduce the productivity of women with children, thus leading to lower pay. However, a criticism of this work-effort theory, Waldfogel, argues that if this hypothesis is true, single mothers should have greater stress-related wage penalties, which is not found in the data. [14]

Sociological theories

Sociological theories explores the cultural and societal constructs that lead to perceived differences between men and women. Sociological theories rely on status discrimination, which argues that they are systematically biased in favor of higher-status groups and against lower-status groups. [3]

Status features theory

Main article: Expectation states theory

A status characteristic is a categorical distinction among people who have a personal attribute or a role with a large number of people. [3] It is important that these characteristics be differentiated in the setting of the field of activity. [3] This theory states that motherhood is a “status characteristic”. When salient, this “status characteristic” results in biased evaluations of competence and commitment, the use of a strict standard for evaluating workplace performance, and biases against mothers in hiring, promotion, and salary decisions. [3]According to the theory, they are more likely to be in the non-mothers characteristic compared with those with the less valued state (mothers).

These biases and discrimination create a cycle by operating in a self-fulfilling way. Since they have been given more opportunities to participate, they have been given more opportunities to participate, and have had a significant impact on the past. more positively. Experiments confirm that a wide variety of eg, race, gender, level of education, and physical attractiveness, systematically organizes the appearance of competence and influence in this manner. [3]

Normative discrimination

Normative discrimination stems from descriptive and prescriptive stereotyping . Descriptive stereotypes are widely shared beliefs about different traits and abilities men and women possessions. Due to descriptive stereotypes are assumed to be intelligent and assertive, which are often associated with leadership and workplace achievement. Women are assumed to possess greater communal qualities and helping behavior such as warmth, empathy, and selflessness. Discrimination based on descriptive stereotypes occurs when women are insufficiently competent to perform a stereotypical male job. [3]While descriptive stereotypes derive from cultural beliefs about what men and women can do, prescriptive and proscriptive stereotypes derived from cultural beliefs about what men and women should or should not do. [15] The expectations of an ideal employee and an ideal parent are of the time when the workforce is composed of children. Stereotypical gender role expectancy causes many of the challenges faced by mothers reentering the workplace. [16]Both types of stereotyping have consequences for For example, it is often thought that they are more caring they should be primary caregiver. When women break up this stereotype they are the most likely because they are violating the prescriptive stereotypes about women as mothers. [15]

Cultural beliefs about the role of a mother include the normative expectation that mothers will and should engage in “intensive” mothering. Mothers are supposed to prioritize the needs of children. [17] By this definition, a “good mother” will be directly responsible for the production of her child, and will therefore be less productive and less productive. [17]The cultural norm that mothers should always be there for their children coexist in tension with the normative belief of the “ideal worker” should always be there for his or her employer. These normative conceptions of an “ideal worker” and a “good mother” create a cultural tension between the motherhood role and the committed worker role. These conflicting roles can lead to discrimination in the context of discrimination, in which they recognize the jurisdiction of the parents. [3]

Benard and Correll did not find that they were still discriminated against when they came out of their competence and commitment. They are considered to be highly likely to be less warm, less likeable, and more interpersonally hostile than comparable workers who are not mothers. [3]

Highly successful parents are highly likely to be highly successful (but not less likely than non-mothers). Successful mothers were also rated as non-mothers, but marginally significantly less warm than fathers. Thus, compared to otherwise identical, highly successful fathers, mothers are penalized on two of the three interpersonal ratings, being seen as less likeable and warm. [3]

Motherhood as “status of choice”

Discrimination against mothers also from choice , choice , and autonomy . The concept of choice leads to the disadvantage of the parents or to the parents of the parents or to the parents of the parents. [17]In the context of discrimination against mothers in the workforce, beliefs about choice and control of the penis associated with becoming a mother. In the past, most women eventually become mothers. Today, more and more women are interested in pursuing aspirations and educational goals by women. Therefore, motherhood is a favorite of women. Since motherhood is seen as a choice. When a situation, such as motherhood, is perceived as controllable, the moral judgment is associated with that perception leads to discrimination. Consequently, mothers who are perceived to be in control of their status as mothers.[17] Mothers’ wages are penalized more in states where a woman’s choice is perceived. An experiment conducted on hiring practices that are more sensitive in the context of hiring and salary, when understandings of choice are primed. [17]


The motherhood penalty describes how to be tolerated in the workplace. [18] The status of motherhood has important ramifications on hiring, promotion, and salary processes. Depending on their status, studies have found that under the age of 35, the wage gap between mothers and non-mothers was even larger than the wage gap between men and women. [19]

Wage penalty for motherhood

Motherhood penalty is significant to the gender wage gap because they are more likely to be employed. [20] Research shows that the wages of mothers are approximately 5% lower (per child) than the wages of non-mothers. [5]The wage penalty incurred by women for motherhood varies greatly across nations as do work-family policies. Therefore, it is unclear if variations in motherhood wage penalties are linked to specific work-family policies. [21]Women in the labor market and employment rate. [22]The results of this study are based on the data of the United States. [23] Part of this is simply that, when they re-enter the workforce they incur a pay penalty for their lost experience. Even after adjustments for the experience, Budig and Hodges found lower wages to have higher penalties. These findings may reflect the less family-friendly firms. [23]

Hiring penalty for motherhood

Mothers are less likely to get hired than non-mothers. [5] Correll, Benard, and Paik created a study that looked at the hiring practices and preferences of employers. [4]They created a hypothetical job seekers with resumes and other materials. 192 Cornell undergraduates were asked to evaluate as candidates for a position as marketing director for a start-up communications company. They were functionally equivalent. Their resumes were both very strong; they were very successful in their last jobs. When presenting these resumes, they are considered to be as qualified. Next, it is mentioned that the applicant was a mother of two children. The summary was also modified to show that the applicant was an officer in a parent-teacher association. This time when participants were asked, they said they would hire 84 percent of the women without children, compared with only 47 percent of the mothers. These are 79 percent less likely to be hired.[3] In lieu of a starting salary for the job, participants offered non-mothers an average of $ 11,000 more than mothers. [4] An audit study also showed that prospective employers were less likely to call back mothers for interviews than non-mothers. [5]

Promotion penalty for motherhood

In a laboratory experiment, participants evaluated application materials for a peer of same race, same gender job applicants who were The results strongly support the discrimination hypotheses. Relative to other types of applicants, are less qualified, less committed, less suitable for hire, promotion, and management training, and deserving of lower salaries. Mothers were also held to higher performance and punctuality standards. [3] The study showed that mothers are 100% less likely to be promoted. Mothers are assumed to be less qualified and committed than women without children. [3]

In the model predicting the likelihood of promotion, the effect of parental status is marginally significant and positive, while the negative influence is significant and negative, indicating that the negative effect of parental status on perceptions of promotability increases only to women. Mothers are also less likely than others to be recommended for management. [3]

Motherhood vs. fatherhood

Several recent studies have shown a wage penalty against maternity leave in the United States. Men do not have this penalty. Men’s wages are either unaffected or even increased after having a child. [1] A study by a Stanford sociologist Shelley Correll, who also noted that they were less competent than men, and also perceived that they were less competent than men who were fathers. [24] In fact, the researcher found that fathers are 1.83 times more likely to be recommended for management than children, a difference that is marginally significant. For women applicants, childless women are recommended [3]This difference between mothers and fathers is a disadvantage in the context of gender inequality. [25]

Reconciliation policies

There have been many welfare policies that attempt to resolve the effects of the motherhood penalty. Reconciliation policies include policies such as paid or unpaid parental and family leave , childcare policies supporting subsidized or state-provided care, and flexible work-time policies. [26] Reconciliation policies aiming at improving economic opportunity and equality of mothers should focus on the norms of gender roles. [27]Theoretically, the family, the family, and the family, should be given the opportunity to be in the workplace, while also ensuring that their families receive adequate care. While all reconciliation policies can be used in the context of equity, they can lead to different outcomes concerning equity. [26]

An alternative to welfare policies is a Fundamental rights approach, where the parent adopts the responsibilities of parenthood, or the parents expressly agree otherwise (or adoptive parent (s) assumes such responsibilities) . As paternity is becoming more and more inexpensive to find out more about the benefits of shared earning / shared parentingThe fundamental rights approach is gaining more credence and becoming easier to establish a legal matter. One example of this is the United Kingdom, which has a parental responsibility concept in the law that requires parents to meet the needs of children, such as a right to a home and a right to be maintained. The law does not include children as having a right to care. (B) unmarried fathers who assumes such responsibility in an agreement with the mother or by court order. It also states that parents have financial responsibility for their children. [28]The law has become more and more prevalent.

Welfare policies

Joya Misra, Michelle Budig and Stephanie Moller did a study of the consequences of these different welfare strategies. [26] The study focuses on welfare state strategies with a focus on work / family reconciliation policies and reconciles their roles as workers and parents. The study looks at the effects of these strategies on labor force participation rates, wage rates, and poverty rates, the effects of motherhood and marital status on labor force participation rates, annual earnings, and poverty rates. They argue that four major strategies that have appeared:

1) primary caregiver / secondary earner strategy (where women are treated primarily as carers, and secondarily as earners)

2) primary earner / secondary caregiver strategy (where women are treated primarily as earners, and secondarily as carers) – focuses on encouraging women’s labor market participation.

3) choice strategy (where women are treated primarily as earners, and secondarily as carers) – focuses on providing support for women’s employment, but also gives women the choice of emphasizing caretaking young children.

4) carner strategy (where women are treated to a role of caring) – focuses on helping men and women balance care and work through care for both. [26]

The study suggests that the earner-carer strategy is most effective at increasing equity for the widest array of women. [26] In this strategy, motherhood is associated with the least negative effects on employment, as well as on poverty levels. The researchers do not know that they can not afford to pay for this, but also that they should be aware of the risks. [26]

Leave policies

Leave policies are intended for parental support. Leave length impacts employers’ perceptions of mothers’ employability and mothers’ earnings. Moderate leaves are not child-friendly; However, they are too expensive to pay because they are linked to decreases in employment and earnings.

Maternity leave

Maternity leave is a temporary period of absence from employment granted to mothers immediately before or after work. [29] Maternity leave helps mothers return to their previous employer. With maternity leave, they are more likely to return to their former employer. The policy minimizes the negative effects of maternity leave. A negative aspect is that maternity leave can reduce the incentive for businesses to hire women. [27] Opponents have also stated that they are harmful because they are still working. [30]Providing maternity leave and non paternity leave can reinforce normative roles of women in the primary care providers, which can perpetuate the maternity penalty by strengthening and confirming employ biases. Maternity leave is a social policy that takes the place of social norms and tries to work around them instead of changing them. [27]

Parental leave

Parental leave is an employee benefit that provides paid or unpaid time off work to care for a child. [31] This includes maternity, paternity, and adoption leave. Extending the leave for mothers and fathers helps to reduce the burden of maternity. According to Motherhood Manifesto, family saving will help you to save money and improve your productivity. [32] A criticism of paternal leave is one of the causes of social norms and economic reasoning. [33]Men are typically paid more than women, so the leave is unpaid then it makes economic sense to have the woman take the leave. Therefore, primary responsibility of care always falls on the woman. One potential solution to this problem is to cover a greater proportion of earnings during paternity leave. [27] Men appear to be more responsive than women to the coverage of their incomes and to their parents. Giving men incentives to take care of homework. [27]

Publicly funded childcare

Childcare policies for children under the age of three were adopted to support parents’ employment. [21] Across nations, high levels of childcare positively affect women’s labor market participation. Childcare costs are also associated with women’s employment. State-provided or state-subsidized childcare may decrease the motherhood earnings State-funded childcare works to change the norms and expectations of mothers and fathers by transferring the carework to a third party provider. [27] However, childcare facilities are more likely to exist in a supportive culture of maternal employment. [21]

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