Mommy Penalty: Government Report Shows Mothers Earn Less

Monday, 18 Nov 2013 06:35 AM

By Robin Farmer

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Women can have it all, but at a price that men avoid. So says a new government report that shows a “mommy penalty” exists.

Mothers with children under 18 earn less than women without minor children. But the biggest winners are men with children under 18 as they earn more income than men without younger kids. The “daddy bonus” is especially true for white and Hispanic men.

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"I think parenthood is like the new site of gender discrimination," said Michelle Budig, a sociology professor at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, according to NBC News.

Her research has shown for every child a mother has, she earns less money. Men earn more when married with children. The earning disparities remain even when other factors, such as taking time off to raise a child, are taken into consideration.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics report looked at the midpoint of weekly earnings for full-time workers in 2012, Yahoo reported. It found that women with children younger than 18 had median weekly earnings of $680, versus $697 for women without children under 18.

Meanwhile, men with kids under 18 had median weekly earnings of $946, compared with $799 for men without minor children.

Overall, the BLS analysis showed that last year, women earned about 81 percent of what men earned in a usual week. That's a much narrower difference than when the government started tracking the data in 1979, but the improvements have become much slower and less steady in the past decade or so.

The wage gap starts when men and women enter the work force and widens around the age of 35, NBC reported.

Commenters on the article at Yahoo had a mixed reaction.

“Honestly, this makes sense to me. I can see how employers would view working mothers as less committed with less time to spend on work, making them more distracted from their job. Working fathers seem to be more committed to their work because they have a family to provide for. Not saying I agree with this over-generalization, but I see how employers would come to this conclusion.”

Wrote another: “The real cost of a woman trying to have it all is that the man has to settle for a lower quality of a relationship.”

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