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Why Do Working Mothers Earn Less Than Fathers? — Dollars and Sense

rankun76, flickr

It’s no secret that job-hunters are having a particularly tough time right now — but if you’re a woman who’s married with kids, you may have a tougher time securing employment than a man in the same scenario.

Researchers from the University of Washington found that married moms who lost their jobs between 2007 and 2009 have a 31 percent lower chance of finding a new job than married fathers.

What’s more, they tend to go longer between jobs and are less likely to land a new job at all. But even if they do, they get paid a lot less than their male counterparts: married moms in the study earned $9,000 a year less than married fathers. Single fathers also take home more than single mothers.

“There does appear to be a motherhood penalty,” says study co-author Brian Serafini. “There are stereotypes that they will be less productive employees because they will have to pick up their kids and leave work early.”

Other research, however, has found that women — whether they’re married, single, or have kids — are just as ambitious and dedicated to their work as men. But killing off the old preconceived notions is taking a long time.

Brad Harrington, executive director of the Center for Work & Family at Boston College, says there’s one way to make things move along faster: dispel the notion that moms are solely responsible for kids’ care, which will make people “realize it’s just as likely for men to make trade-offs and compromises.”


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