It’s that time of year when love is in the air as we approach Valentine’s day. My focus since starting Two Working Moms with my bestie has been on mothers in the workplace. A population that could use a little more love.
I have had my share of working mom stories, from accepting a job at Amazon while 4 months pregnant, not sure if I should tell them at my interview and then getting the job to find out they didn’t offer any maternity leave.
Now, as a mom of two, I want to be an ally and an advocate for others who find themselves on this journey or want to help others who are.
Getting in the Door
I know a few moms who took time off from their career to be a stay-at-home parent. Now their kids are getting into school and they are looking to re-enter the workforce. Can being a mom be a barrier to getting in the door at a new company? One study at Cornell sent fake resumes to hundreds of employers and found that mothers were half as likely to be called back by prospective employers, while fathers were called back slightly more often than the men whose resumes did not mention parenthood.
The Maternal Wall
Nevermind the glass ceiling, mothers in the workplace find the ‘Maternal Wall’. Social psychology studies report that businesswomen typically are seen as high in competence: right up there with businessmen and millionaires. But working mothers are rated less like businesswomen and more like housewives, who—to quote the terms used by researchers—are viewed as on a par with the “elderly, blind, retarded, and disabled.”
Managers, without knowing it, can make matters worse by thinking they are helping to give a mother more family time by eliminating travel work or projects that require long hours, thus not allowing a woman the opportunity to do her best and possibly get promoted. Despite comprising half of the paid labor force, only 5 percent of Fortune 500 CEOs are women.
What is even sadder is that women bosses are less likely to promote women.
The Salary Gap is Bigger
Women without children make 90 cents to a man’s dollar, mothers make only 73 cents, single moms make about 60 cents to a man’s dollar, and women of color experience increased wage hits on top of that.
Women make up half of the workforce in America yet only 9 percent of all women in the labor force earn $75,000 or more annually, 37 percent earn between $30,000 and $74,999 annually, and 54 percent earn less than $30,000 annually.
The Fatherhood Bonus and Motherhood Penalty
Sad to say but this is the case; Men who are fathers are often paid more than men who are not. Perhaps employers think “Fatherhood,” is a valued characteristic of employees, signaling perhaps greater work commitment, stability, and deservingness. Unfortunately this isn’t the same benefit for working mothers, and in fact, the more children a woman has, the lower their income is and the more they are penalized.
The study shows that while men’s earnings increased more than 6% when they had children (if they lived with them), women’s wages decreased 4% for each child they had. The so-called ‘parental pay gap’ persisted even when controlling for factors like experience, education, hours worked, and spousal incomes.
Be an Ally
The first step to helping working mothers is being informed and standing up for yourself and others. If you are a working mom and need some support, reach out and find a village. If you are just coming back from maternity or need some extra coaching or support reach out to someone like Mary Beth with Live Work Lead and get a free consultation.
If you are in the Seattle area come join our Seattle Working Moms Lean-In Circle. There is also a Harmony event on March 3rd in support of International Women’s Day. Harmony is a place for working women to craft what they want in their life, an avenue to find harmony in life and at work.
My #TWM bestie and I will be there as well as some other great local moms. * L