Working Moms Challenge the Thinking Behind the Pay Gap

Disturbed by the results of a recent University of Chicago study on women’s earnings,  we asked our resident mothers to weigh in. The study analyzed the careers and earnings of women and MBA graduates and found when women and men graduate, their incomes are nearly identical. However, within 15 years, men’s incomes soar to 75% more than the incomes of women. The only women who didn’t fit this pattern were women who never had children.

According to the study, “the presence of children is associated with less accumulated job experience, more career interruptions, shorter work hours, and substantial earnings declines for female but not for male MBAs. The one exception is that an adverse impact of children on employment and earnings is not found for female MBAs with lower-earning husbands.”

Read the study.

Maya Thornell-Sandifor, Karla Rodriguez, Cathy Schreiber and Tina Eshaghpour share their thoughts:

What is your reaction to this report?

Maya Thornell-Sandifor

Maya: My husband must also balance taking care of our child with the demands of work. As a father he suffered through sleepless nights and late night feedings with me. So why is it that only the mother’s pay, experience and career trajectory is interrupted by the presence of a child? The point is that pay and promotion for any employee – regardless of gender or parental status – should be determined based on proven qualifications and contributions, and not assumptions.

What obstacles do mothers in the workforce face?

Cathy Schreiber

Cathy: The biggest obstacle for mothers in the workforce is really that we’re operating in a very traditional, out-dated, inflexible paradigm of how and when work needs to be done. We need flexibility. I also think the obstacles really depend upon the sector. I believe that some industries are far more challenging environments to thrive for working mothers and parents. This is why I work in the nonprofit sector, particularly for a women’s organization. Not that the nonprofit sector is perfectly positioned for working mothers – we have a ways to go, particularly in the areas of manageable workloads, flexible work schedules and job-sharing models. But I think it’s light years ahead of some other sectors.

What advantages do mothers bring to the workforce?

Karla Rodriguez

Karla: Mothers are highly skilled in being resourceful, multitasking, creative and innovative, and their ability to manage time, projects, and budgets. These skills are of most value in the workplace today and should be leveraged, not hampered, during a time when resources, both financial and personnel, are challenged.

Tina: I have such a deeper sense of purpose in the social change work I do. I also am connected to the organizations and people I work with in a much more personal way.  Having kids has also created opportunities for me to connect with people I would never meet in my line of work.

Tina Eshaghpour

Those relationships are valuable in many ways, including providing me with a broader network of people to go to for specific needs. You really see and experience the world in a different way as a mom.


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  1. [...] Working Moms Challenge the Thinking Behind the Pay Gap This entry was written by womensfoundca, posted on 01/25/2011 at 3:41 pm, filed under Economic Opportunity. Bookmark the permalink. Follow any comments here with the RSS feed for this post. Post a comment or leave a trackback: Trackback URL. « Surina Joins Women’s Health Policy Council LikeBe the first to like this post. [...]

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