Motherhood penalty remains a pervasive problem in the workplace

by Ruth Schechter on 11/22/09 at 10:26 pm

Shelley CorrellMothers looking for employment are less likely to be hired, are offered lower salaries and are perceived as being less committed to a job than fathers or women without children, according to a recent study of gender inequality in the workplace. What’s more, the pay gap between mothers and childless women is actually bigger than the pay gap between women and men.

“At some level, there is still a perceived incompatibility between family and the workplace, which disadvantages mothers,” said Stanford researcher Shelley Correll, PhD, an associate professor of sociology. “My research finds that mothers are judged by a harsher standard, which leads to a ‘motherhood penalty’ in getting hired and being offered a good salary.”

In one test, Correll and her colleagues found that evaluators consistently ranked mothers as less competent and less committed workers than childless women but ranked fathers as more competent and committed than non-fathers. In a follow-up study, the researchers responded to more than 600 newspaper ads for high-level business positions by sending out fake resumes for two equally qualified candidates that varied only in very subtle references to parenting activities. They found that the childless female candidate was twice as likely to be called in for an interview as the mother. Fathers experienced no call-back penalty.

Correll’s study points to a pervasive and almost subliminal discrimination that also affects business outcomes. Her study, “Getting a Job: Is There a Motherhood Penalty?” has received several awards, including the 2008 Rosabeth Moss Kanter Award for Excellence in Work-Family Research, which is co-sponsored by an alliance of human resources professionals.

“Organizations may be making errors in judgment based on stereotypical assumptions that prevent them from hiring the best person possible for the job,” she said. “Raising awareness of this problem may reduce bias. We’ve found that many organizations are willing to respond and are interested in changing their policies.”

The next steps, she added, are to examine the extent legal and organizational policies can reduce bias. She also is identifying other ways that mothers are stereotyped. For example, studies have shown that mothers are often perceived as not working hard enough; however, when mothers demonstrate intensive effort, they are often seen as unlikable and selfish. And mothers are judged by a harsher standard when it comes to calling in sick or taking time off. “Whether being seen as working too hard or not working hard enough, mothers experience discrimination,” said Correll.

Meeting at the ClaymanInstitute for Gender Research

Meeting at the Clayman Institute for Gender Research

As the Incoming Director of the Clayman Institute for Gender Research, Correll plans to encourage interdisciplinary investigations among researchers in business, psychology, social science, law and medicine on a thematic focus she terms “Beyond the Stalled Revolution: Advancing Gender Equality in the 21st Century.”

“From the ‘60s through the early ‘90s, there was tremendous progress in gender equality—the wage gap shrunk, women entered professional fields, more women joined the labor force, work-life issues improved,” she said. “But progress has stalled. I hope to bring together people from a wide array of perspectives to try to understand why there has been a stall and to kickstart progress again. The Institute is multidisciplinary by nature: My challenge is to figure out how to bring scholars together to collectively focus on this important issue.”

Applications for Faculty Research Fellowships are due on December 15, 2009. Correll, who was a Clayman Graduate Dissertation Fellow in 2001, begins her term as Director of the Clayman Institute in September 2010.

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42 Responses to “Motherhood penalty remains a pervasive problem in the workplace”

  1. Ken F

    Nov 24th, 2009

    My mother was penalized for being a woman and a mother.

    Back in 1961, she was hired by a large stock exchange in Los Angeles. Right from the start, she was paid half as much as a man, even though she was just as qualified and the sole provider in our household. It was criminal.

    As a licensed stock broker, she deserved better treatment. The assumption at that time was women who worked outside the household were earning a little extra spending money. they didn’t need to earn as much as a man. Nothing could be further from the truth.

    Although more subtle, and not quite as extreme, this still happens. It is very much like age discrimination, hard to prove, just as illegal and needs to stop.

    The only way it will stop is through education, awareness training and perhaps some enforceable laws with teeth. How that would work is beyond me. Hopefully those in the legal profession could come up with a viable solution.

    Thank you for the great article. To this day, it is a sore spot for me.

  2. Tu Chwen-Hui

    Nov 25th, 2009

    I am a deputy director-general in local government, Taiwan .Married and with 3 kids, I need to work hard to prove my ability to his position. In the hierarchy of government, the higher position a mother with small or young children in, the more courage she needs to have. In other words, she has to shoulder the balance of family and work. Women sometimes risk giving up their job and dream just because of taking care of their children. They face the dilemma which childless female and fathers can not imagine. By the way, I like the term Motherhood penalty. And this is a great article.

  3. Nancy

    Nov 25th, 2009

    Although my experiences with working mothers are not typical, they do offer some rationale to the “perceived incompatibility between family and the workplace”.

    She was my manager who often brought her 4 year old daughter in the office to babysit while she worked. She was the only one had an office, so her intention was to keep her daughter in the confine of the office, so there would be little or no disturbance to her subordinates. But being a 4 year old, her daughter naturally roamed around freely and visited all the people at work, all day long. With this consistent interruption, who could work? We could not be mad at the daughter, as she was just being herself. We could not be mad at the mother, as she was the boss. Yet, when we fell behind, it was us who did not work on weekends or nights at all cost to get things done.

    She was my co-worker, at critical time during a project, she’d need to pick up her kid. She came late because she had to drop off her child. She took long lunches because that’s only time she got to relax with her child at daycare/school. She was stressed and could not focus at work because she worried about her kid. She had to leave early because she needed to pick up her child. The work load did not get smaller and deadlines were not extended, so who was left with the work.

    When I asked the manager who was the mother of a small child herself about why my other co-worker was constantly absent from work. Matter-of-factly, she needed to tend to her kids, came the reply. The manager preferred to hire mothers then gave away company times freely as good will.

    I am single and I have no children, I don’t get time off and I am left with all the work. So, over the years, I learn not to depend on mothers. And, as more cases like the above, I dread to work with mothers.

  4. Ravi

    Nov 25th, 2009

    I agree to some extent this could be true, only if the kid is less very young, like less than 6 years. We live in a society and age where these problems are not real, but “made up” by some so called study or research. Only a few hundred years back, these problems were nonexistent! We make up new and new deseases, problems, and newer and newer problems, yet supported by studies and reseachers.
    It is all in a person’s mind. For example, one can think “parenting is a joyful or the most joyful experience”, and another can think “it is very difficult to raise to kid, and it is a pain”. We can do a reseach on this and come up with a new problem in socieity.

  5. SAHM

    Nov 25th, 2009

    Let’s face it: if the child is sick, who takes care of them if the dad works too? It’s not fair, but I understand see why a male would be hired over a female if the two are equal applicants. My husband also says men in general are easier to work with unless the woman has the personality of a man. Women can be too petty, emotional, overreact. Personally, I prefer male friends to female friends!

    If only women would understand that raising a child is a responsibility for the first couple of years at least. I shake my head when I see moms seeking full-time nannies for their 3m olds. Why have them if you don’t want to be with them? At least work part-time when they are so young.

  6. KG

    Nov 25th, 2009

    I am a university professor, single woman with no kids. Am very well paid, top of my field at a top university. I have had to work twice as hard and produce twice as much to gain recognition and a high salary as my male colleagues. And leadership roles come slowly. Male-dominated university leaders tend to pick the woman last (married, children, or not).

    I’m very happy with my life and career but recognize the trade-offs of work vs family. What no one talks about is that there is still continuing – if sometimes subtle – stigma toward professional women with no kids, and unmarried high achievers. But it’s hard to find a man who is OK with a busy woman with her own accomplishments and a broad network that came with her work achievements.

    And by the way, many of my employees are female and I consider family demands to come with working moms. Pay is for performance not gender or family status. In my own experience, on average, my female employees are more outstanding than most of the men.

  7. JTK

    Nov 25th, 2009

    I work at a large technology company. My husband and I discuss this issue constantly as we both have advanced degrees and are both ambitious. Intellectually and technically, we are equal. We also have opportunity to compare salaries.

    Your findings are both correct and revealing.

    In the 10 years that we have been employed, he has a higher salary for the same job function but I have worked longer hours, made more international trips to client sites and brought in more revenue for the company for my projects. My male managers do not think my contribution is adequate. His female manager rewards his contribution for projects that have failed because “lessons have been learned”.

    We do not have children. Yet.

    In recent months, several new mothers in my workplace got laid off. I observed that the ones who were let go took their full maternity leave. During their absence, their male managers commented on whether they had a good time on their vacation.

    The only other new mothers who did not get laid off had stay-at-home husbands and did not take their full maternity leave.

    I feel men should stay at home for the first 3 months with children and take full responsibility for the first few years – only that will change the system. My husband agrees and I am luck I married someone who is more progressive than the average man.

    Educated women are not provided opportunities by their parents and teachers only to find themselves spending their lives sacrificing careers, interests and salaries for society, men and babies.

  8. JB King

    Nov 26th, 2009

    Any study that is not double-blind, as we have here, is not science but propaganda. Beyond this, this article reveals other elements that this is just an agenda trying to mask itself as truth.

  9. miriam

    Nov 26th, 2009

    Thanks for this article, which brought this important research to my attention. As a junior sociology professor with two small children, I have definitely experienced a “motherhood penalty” — not at point of hire (at least that I know of) but rather over the course of my career. I find myself competing against male and female colleagues without children, as well as most fathers, who have dramatically more time than I do to get work done. I have compensated for this – as have mothers in this and other fields for time immemorial – by working double-time. I don’t skimp on teaching, service, or research, but rather on time for my sleep, exercise, and health. Added to this is the enormous cost of childcare, which places a special financial burden on mothers and fathers alike.

    A key factor I believe underlies this is rooted in social policy: the lack of paid parental leave and affordable childcare in this country, as well as labor laws that prevent wage discrimination. I wonder whether the motherhood penalty would be lessened by such policies- both in terms of the lowering the actual cost to mothers in time, money, and stress, and in terms of improving broader social perceptions of mothering / parenting in general (ie raising awareness of the vital social role of mothers’/parents’ work, rather than denigrating it).

    I think a really interesting direction to take this research would then be a comparative one —ie between the U.S. and countries that provide parental leave and affordable childcare and that have strong labor laws. My hypothesis is that the latter would help to produce both a more equal and a less discriminatory society.

  10. Heather

    Nov 27th, 2009

    LOL. I read this article and the comments, and all I can say is…yeah, so it happens. In law school, I had a hard time working with another student on a project because he blew off all of our deadlines, refused to listen/discuss important topics and was again and again caught unprepared. I finally had it, and I went to the prof to say that I didn’t want to keep working on the project. I explained that the other person and I had very different work styles and priorities. Later, another professor who was indirectly related to the project commented that he knew that I had dropped the project because I wanted to spend more time with my child. I was livid, but what could I do? I had tried to be tactful and not say the other student was lazy and good for nothing, and it turned into me lacking focus because of my child. Lesson learned: be explicit, cut throat if needs be…because it’s better to be seen that way than to have other interpretations attributed to you simply because you’re a mother.

    Fast forward a few more years, I’ve had my second child, and I decide to go back to work because we need money. I get a part time job working at a law office, and I send the kids to a daycare 2 blocks from my husband’s office. We write on the contact information to call dad first as he is 1) closer (I had a 20 minute drive to get there) and 2) he is salaried with a flexible schedule that lets him leave if needs be (I was paid by the hour). Every time there was a problem or a concern, I was called first. The secretary would put the “emergency” call through…which it usually was not…and interrupt my meetings or other work. I love my children and would never leave them ill or unhappy if I could, but my husband loves them, too. He is both capable and competent in dealing with them when they are sick or hurt. Lesson learned: don’t bother telling people that you aren’t the person to call…they are going to call anyway and act like you’re a horrible person for saying “try dad.”

    In the end, I quit the job and have started a recording business out of my basement. I work when the kids sleep or are at school and don’t use my law degree anyway. I am flexible. No one actually realizes I work, but hey, I get a little money, and when the kids are older, I’m going to put in the 50 hours at home and keep the profits for myself. You don’t want to play fair, I’ll make up my own game.

    Most people, mothers, singles, fathers, whoever, don’t work because they have a burning desire to make money for the company…all of us need to put food on our table and feel good about who we are and what we can do. It’s wrong to say that because someone had kids they don’t deserve equal pay, it’s wrong to expect singles to give up their free time because “they don’t have kids,” and it’s wrong to assume that father’s aren’t willing and capable, but it’s going to happen anyway. A little compassion and willingness to sacrifice for one another breeds good community spirit within a business and makes a better work environment. We all need to be a little more considerate and not take advantage or hurt one another.

  11. Kevin

    Nov 28th, 2009

    Greetings from a math undergraduate at Arizona. Interesting article, although I am curious about the statistics (i.e. “They found that the childless female candidate was twice as likely to be called in for an interview as the mother.”) Part of me wants to see the data. Regardless, I like this kind of research. One reason that this study interested me is that it does not simply address the issue of “pay gap” as a general category. For example, depending on whom you ask, women make around 70 cents on every man’s dollar, but that blanket statement doesn’t control for the fact that women tend to take lower-paying careers, such as teaching or secretarial work, in which women have traditionally been the dominant sex. This study does much better.

    I have plenty of female friends who aspire to be doctors, physician’s assistants, nurses, researchers, etc., all of which are fairly demanding careers. Most of them are quite intelligent – more so than I am, in many ways – so I don’t see why they should suffer from pay inequality.

    I should point out that my (male) boss, now two-years divorced, has a mentally handicapped child with epilepsy, and while I sympathize with the amount of time that such a child requires of him, I have found it frustrating that he is so often gone, and his absence leads to poor management and morale in the lab. This is demotivating for those of us who seek professional and personal guidance from our professor-mentors in our incipient research careers. I don’t think that I would change my opinion of him were he the mom; rather, the child is the issue here, and having one conflicts with his work duties.

    It would seem to me that shifting child-rearing duties to men would certainly alleviate some of the burden placed on women, and personally I think that it would enrich the parental contact of a child during its formative years. So in that respect, I generally side with the female commenters here, and were I in the position of a father, that is the role that I would try to take. But it does not tackle a more fundamental issue – namely, the conflicts between having kids and holding down a career – which may be delimited in societal stereotypes but are by no means felt by women alone. Raising a family requires a substantial amount of commitment from both parents, and that commitment must not overlap with work duties. Indeed, if men and women are so interested in their jobs, then perhaps having children is not the wisest choice.

    As a final thought, there exists another societal antagonism against women, this one a relic of feminism’s push to put women in the workplace: when people ask, “what do you do for a living?” I bet that women prefer to say “I am a doctor” or “I am a businesswoman” instead of “I am a mother.” This, I feel, is wrong (the same applies for the gently rising career of “father.”) In particular, women should not be punished for fulfilling their biological role as parent, especially when men do not share in this discrimination. We who live in a capitalistic economy, which rewards production but not reproduction, should never forget that family life, however much people choose to partake in it, is not a commodity but rather a fundamental part of civilization. Mothers and fathers existed well before corporations.

  12. nancy

    Nov 30th, 2009

    Have compassion people. Your turn will come when your co-workers will discriminate and judge you unfairly whether it be for being a mother, father, childless, male, female, skin color, physically unpleasing, language, rank, etc.
    Nothing worse than dealing with a bunch of player haters. Be kind and try to show some understanding. What goes around, comes around. Even if you have reason to be upset with the arrangement, just try to understand. you don’t always know all the details.

  13. Kathleen

    Nov 30th, 2009

    It is truly remarkable how bad things can get without us even introducing the subject of access to affordable quality childcare, starting at birth. Even feminists like those in this stream of comments continue to privatize care work as the responsibility of only the mother and father (and also a straight couple as the parents). Why not assume a social responsibility for care, such as that found in our peer nations? Those without children would also benefit from a society that sees helping one another live with dignity as part of a shared social compact with all of its members. Given the gaps in wages and pensions, single childless women should be particularly concerned about growing old in a society who sees other women (and children) as burdensome to them.

  14. Susan Light

    Nov 30th, 2009

    Although I believe the data, the story doesn’t stop there. what happens after the mother gets the job?

    In my experience she becomes as easy target unless she has divested herself of most of her daytime responsibilities as a parent. for about 8 years my husband was a “stay-at-home” and and despite some of the usual hurdles, I was quite successful. once he was no longer there to manage the day to day child related tasks, even when they were in school all day, i found myself passing on lunch with colleagues to take care of family related things and have not achieved the level of success that I had previously.

    despite all of my deep disappointment in the direction my career has taken, I can’t imagine choosing any job over my kids. when Oprah was giving diamond rings to her friends i thought about how great it would be to be able to do that, then I realized that she doesn’t have kids and the wishing immediately disappeared.

  15. Phyllis Grant

    Dec 1st, 2009

    I’ve always had co-workers who had children and who didn’t and I’ve rarely noticed a difference between them, with the exception of one or two who clearly put their families first, despite their responsibilities at Stanford. What I’m hoping to see at Stanford are equal benefits for staff. Even though I have 16 nieces and nephews who I’ve helped support over the years, I can’t take advantage of child care and tuition grant benefits, and I could use some help. Special thanks to the Clayman Institute for 35 years of promoting gender equality!!

  16. Mein SF

    Dec 1st, 2009

    This is fantastic research. I like the historical comments about how progress has stalled. To give an international perspective, I worked for the last 5 years for a foreign government in San Francisco. I will not name the country, but it is European and has generally good social policies, including a 4 months maternity leave. I got pregnant after 3 years on the job. My 3 superiors and colleagues had no idea that the office would get partial refund of my salary to hire a replacement. My boss just said “that’s the way it is, you get pregnant and we have to bite the bullet”..I did the research and found how to get him the money for maternity leave so he could hire someone to replace me partially. A few months later, I was asked to put together a summary of social benefits and other deductions for employees there, after several discussions involving international taxation etc. I showed the bottom line (i.e. the amount employees actually got paid after all taxes and deductions) and one of my boss said: “yes, I know, we all know that your job is for people who don’t need a full salary. When we hire someone we look for a young woman who has a husband who earns well.”

    I am not well-read on the subject, but I am wondering: is there research that shows how kids that have stay-at-home moms do better than kids whose mom works part-time / full-time? Because I just constantly feel like I have to convince people about this…

  17. CM

    Dec 2nd, 2009

    As a working mother with a child who has special medical needs, I think it’s very telling that comments here indicate someone should stay home with the child and the family should depend on a single income, that having a family isn’t compatible with working.

    From a health care perspective, work is the source of health insurance in the US and having multiple sources of health coverage is an essential back-up plan when your child has serious medical needs.

    As long as you complete your duties, your compensation should not be affected.

    I love that my employer has flexible hours so that the work gets done but the personal life isn’t completely on the back burner, which is helpful for parents and non-parents alike. This also benefits the business since I am willing to work evenings and weekends to meet a deadline (i.e. business need), knowing that the business is flexible with my personal needs.

    As the working parent with the longer tenure of the two careers, I have more time off available for managing family- and child-related needs, so that’s how I end up with the responsibility, not based on my gender. It probably also helps that I have more patience for the process of constant phone calls and following up on others doing their jobs than my husband does. We have to be careful not to act with bad grace when we need to build relationships that will last with people who have the ability to take care of our child’s medical needs.

  18. marty

    Dec 2nd, 2009

    In my experience, and it is considerable, the bias falls on the Primary Caregiver. This means that it’s most often the mother, but not always.

  19. CMM

    Dec 3rd, 2009

    I would like to add one more element to this discussion which has thus far been at best only been alluded to, and that is the question of one’s ethnicity or race. I believe that at least at the start of one’s career race plays almost no role. In my own experience (I am a woman of Asian decent) my career successes have been mostly based on merit, except when I became a mother.
    I stayed at home to care for my two children (one with special needs) and thus my reentry into workforce took longer than I had planned. I never imagined it could be this difficult to reenter the workforce. I feel it is partly due to the subtle stereotyping that is attributed to ethnic women. I have felt this in the interview process and I feel I am probably not selected for an interview, in many cases because of this perceived “negative” attribute on my resume and for being an ethnic woman (my name is a giveaway).
    When did staying home to care for sick children become a negative for our society? I feel this is an unfair burden that is largely placed on women; the one of “reentry” into the workforce. I know of no men who have this problem, but I do have plenty of talented women friends and colleagues who have compromised their career aspirations as a result of time off for raising children.
    I would like to see more research done on the factor race plays in women’s career successes/ limitations and also more on the study of how women are perceived for taking time off for children. I think it is time we picked up the ball again on women’s issues in the workforce. We certainly have made great strides but there is still a lot of work left to be done. Bravo for tackling this issue!

  20. D

    Dec 7th, 2009

    As a childless woman working in Silicon Valley I feel a lot like Nancy who commented above. I do have compassion for a working mother and in my mind I rationalize that ANY family need should come as a high priority regarding the workplace. I think I must live in a special bubble of Silicon Valley (compared to maybe the subjects of this study which has a broader base) because in every place I worked mothers received very good treatment, people really went out of their way to accommodate them.

    There’s actually some very valid points amongst childless people about this because as was said, we don’t get to leave work early, and have to make up extra work. And if you complain that you must be some kind of evil bad person how can you not be in support of motherhood? It’s bad enough you are a freak to begin with, not giving birth. In all these cases I am thinking of, these mothers were upper managers too, above me – I know they were making more money than me certainly. Of course I don’t know how they compared with their male counterparts.

    To me it’s not about pay so much as it is about time, because time is more valuable to me than money. It really bugs me to see others be given more time flexibility than myself. People shouldn’t focus so much on salary that just doesn’t enter my mind. What does is that they get to leave at 4pm. Even if they are good workers and get the job done – so do I – can I leave early too?

  21. eilan81

    Dec 7th, 2009

    At a first look, this looks depressing and unfair.
    On the other side, though, as I search for work after graduate school, I can’t help but wonder: what would I do if I were the recruiter?
    I am 28, and the ring on my left hand is pretty evident. And yes, chances that I’ll take a couple of maternity leaves in the next 5 years are pretty high. How long? As short as possible, but if I have a difficult pregnancy (my mum had 2 over 2) it might be pretty long.
    And yes, I am asking that the firm keep my spot (and therefore find a substitute for a while) and ideally keep paying me though I am not sure whether I’ll add any value in those periods. Seriously, should I really expect companies to look at me like all this did not matter? How’s the expected added value of somebody at high risk of repeatedly disappearing from extended periods equivalent to that of somebody (with the same qualifications) who’s not? In some way, that for the next 4 years I’d get a lower salary than my husband -who’s about as qualified as I am- does not sound that unfair once I consider all the complications that go with me…

  22. [...] but not surprising. Sociologist Shelly Correll has demonstrated that women with kids face a “motherhood penalty.&#… They’re less likely to be offered jobs and less likely to be paid well. When Correll gave [...]

  23. Hayley

    Jan 27th, 2010

    My mum always looked after me as a child and did not work.
    My gran would not let her leave me with a nanny even though she wanted to work she knew what was important my welfare.
    My dad certainly had no idea what he was doing with me.
    He brought in money and my mum had a lodger stay with us to get the money.
    But yes i myself am in my twenties now, have no dependants and iam getting interview seem o.k. I’m available to work full time, go to college, get holidays away. do what i want. If i had kids to look after i would expect the father to pay anyhow. that’s the deal? That’s the fathers prerogotive. Big difference between being a free agent and being
    bogged down which i hope not to be for a while to come/

  24. sheila

    Feb 23rd, 2010

    So for everyone who is advocating that mothers stay home with their children – what about single mothers. One is not always a single parent by choice….

    We don’t appear to have any desire to support single mothers..Soo in that case I second the notion of the necessity of available good childcare.

  25. [...] put on our resumes as a plus, when mothering is actually penalized in the workforce.  (Check out this study from Stanford that indicates women who revealed they were mothers were less likely to be hired and [...]

  26. Pat

    May 5th, 2010

    Perceived value of women in workplace as mothers is nonexistent understandably, since their value as mothers is useful only within the home. But economics doesn’t equate women and motherhood fairly since women are not paid equally in the workplace even if they are not mothers. In fact, motherhood concessions in the workplace are deemed drains upon society, thereby denigrating motherhood while at the same time attempting to endow motherhood with honor outside the workplace.

    That makes mothers “outsiders” when it comes to business, politics, and the judicial system reflects that trend though it may not have caused it.

    Discounting motherhood in the workplace seems instinctively unfair when motherhood is valued outside the workplace, placing women and men in the untenable situation of maintaining a double standard based upon utility to society, not identity.

    This lack of reconciliation in the perception of women and their value to society pervades the culture of most any nation, and causes women enormous hardship, the extent of which is not fully recognized in society as to what is a reliable “place or role” for women in society.

  27. Group health insurance

    Jun 17th, 2010

    I believe the data, the story doesn’t stop there. what happens after the mother gets the job?
    if the mother get job children will suffer a lot but due to present economic situation there is a need for mother to go for job

  28. Jamie

    Jul 29th, 2010

    I’m one of those “high achievers” who has worked hard and risen quickly. I put off having a family for 8 years of marriage until the clock was ticking. I took off 8 weeks and came back full-time. My husband is a great support since I am the primary breadwinner, but with 6 weeks of paid maternity leave (the last two were saved from vacation) it is rough on him, rough on our little one, and rough on me. I am generally on the “low taxes” “low government” side of the spectrum but on this I do believe that a 4 month maternity leave should be federally funded. This would help all families without placing the burden on corporations. A strong start to establishing a family bond is very important but not possible when the breadwinner is the woman.

  29. [...] Research by Stanford professor Shelley Correll shows how all of us (men and women) list toward the belief that motherhood (aka primary parenthood) permanently drains commitment and competence from talented women. When a father of small kids is late or looks dazed in a meeting, we’re more willing to assume it’s an aberration, a passing phase, and he’ll snap back to top form because he values his job. We give him the benefit of the doubt. Do we give women the same? [...]

  30. [...] Research by Stanford professor Shelley Correll shows how all of us (men and women) list toward the belief that motherhood (aka primary parenthood) permanently drains commitment and competence from talented women. When a father of small kids is late or looks dazed in a meeting, we’re more willing to assume it’s an aberration, a passing phase, and he’ll snap back to top form because he values his job. We give him the benefit of the doubt. Do we give women the same? [...]

  31. anon

    Sep 2nd, 2010

    Corporations refusing to hire women for taking time for to care for elderly parents or children is a discrimination tactic that has worked quite well for them.

    Why have women allowed this? Corporations needed to find a way to keep women out… and so they did.

  32. June

    Sep 2nd, 2010

    It’s all about keeping women out of the workforce, especially in the technology field. As someone with a masters of Computer Science and over 10 years experience, I can’t even get an interview because I have been out of few years.

    What am I supposed to do, take courses that I already took and taught years ago? My skills are more up to date more than others who have been in the workforce.

    And then to hear companies lamenting that they can’t find technical women to hire? I call B.S. on that.

    It has always been about keeping women out of the workforce. Any excuse will do.

  33. [...] more analysis on the new research here. And more about the motherhood penalty here. « About Dr. [...]

  34. CY

    Nov 18th, 2010

    I am a very family person (female). Just took six weeks off as my mom was diagnosed with malignant tumours. Yet I am single and childless, not by my own choice, just did not meet that Mr Right yet. I like what D said – if I finish my stuff early, can I leave early too? Flexible working hours should be applicable to all, unmarried people do have their own families and circles too. I do not mind helping out colleagues, but if my afterwork hours reduced, am I getting an lower chance to form my own family? That actually happens in my organisation. If I can tell a client that we need a bit of flexibility somehwere because of some urgency situation (a mom colleague had to take that day, the deadline, off for family reasons), and the same would happen if I am allowed to take a day off to stay with my Mom without being looked at skeptically, then I’m fine.

    Helping out colleagues once a while is absolutely no problem, not for years. BTW, what if both myself (if going to be a mom one day) and my co-worker have to attend to family matters on the same day, is that fair to my boss?

    We need a more accommodating society in general. It doesn’t work if boss and colleagues are accommodating but not your clients.

  35. Sarah

    Nov 22nd, 2010

    Few corporations will do anything that they feel may hurt their profits unless they are forced to with legislation.

  36. guest

    Dec 4th, 2010

    Actually, I’ve seen corporations make accommodations for men. For every excuse they used against women to keep them out of the work force, special considerations were given to men to keep them in…and these were just average working men. I was even asked to feel sorry for a guy.

    Women are letting them selves be walked on, by allowing these sexist attitudes to persist only against women.

  37. Grace Redlands Chiropractor

    Feb 5th, 2011

    Self employment helps but sometimes even clients are sexist. The laws are much better in Europe.

  38. Leila

    Feb 28th, 2011

    This article was great help. Someone recently suggested that I put my motherhood responsibilities on my resume as I prepare to enter the workforce.

    It looks like my gut response, which was “that’s the dumbest idea I’ve ever heard”, is completely on point.

    Unfortunately, I don’t see an resolution to this dilemma for women. The irony to me is just how much time wasting goes on in the workplace. Personally I think corporations would be a lot more efficient if they took into consideration all their employees’ needs and time commitments. Think of how much work you could get done at home in the time you waste in traffic or on train/bus. You’d be less stressed and have way more energy if you could control the hours and location of your work day.

  39. [...] gap between mothers and childless women is actually bigger than the pay gap between women and men. To read the complete article, please click here. Bookmark on Delicious Digg this post Recommend on Facebook share via Reddit Share with Stumblers [...]

  40. [...] on the career track are stymied. Correspondingly, Stanford sociologist Shelley Correll found that mothers are less likely to be hired and are offered lower salaries than fathers and women without [...]

  41. [...] on the career track are stymied. Correspondingly, Stanford sociologist Shelley Correll found that mothers are less likely to be hired and are offered lower salaries than fathers and women without [...]

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