It’s a commonly held belief that starting a family will put an end to a woman’s career. The question is, is this true? Will having children really stop your career path in its tracks?
Well, happily the answer is no, but there is a but. The but is that for every child a woman has, it’s estimated she suffers a 5% wage penalty. Additionally, studies have shown that in comparison with female managers who aren’t pregnant, those who are mothers are seen as less committed to the job, less dependable, and more emotional.
The things which blunts a mother’s success at work isn’t necessarily factors such as going part-time, having interrupted careers, or having less experience (these only contributed a third to the wage penalty of mothers). One factor that plays a large role in the career limits for working mothers is that of discrimination.
Professor Lawrence Kahn and Professor Francine Blau from Cornell University estimated that a third of the gap in female participation in the workplace is down to poor family leave and inflexibility.
Perhaps not that surprisingly, it’s only really women who have the career problem it seems. A study conducted by the University of Massachusetts in 2010 found that American fathers earnt a salary which was 11% higher than that of men who had no children. Meanwhile, employers have been found to offer lower salaries to women with children than they do to women without children.
So while having a family won’t stop your career, it might do a bit of damage to your salary. Even despite this unfair disadvantage, mothers won’t be held back if they want a career as well as a family though. In 2010 67% of mothers were part of the labour force, and since 1860 the proportion of working mothers has gone up by 800%!