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The Student Prints

The Student Prints

Difference in Gender…and Pay?

Women and men are not paid the same. However, it’s more than just gender that’s causing this disparity. Get this–mothers are actually not being paid the same as fathers or those without children. Here’s why.

First, let’s talk about the gender wage gap. According to the Pew Research Center analysis, there is an estimated 11¢ pay gap between the genders. In 1980, it was nearly triple that, women were paid 33 to 34¢ less than a man.

Although the cent pay gap has decreased since then, women are still earning 82% of what men are earning. While many factors play a role in the gap (education, occupational segregation, experience in the workforce, etc.), there seems to be one major component: motherhood.

As reported in the study, Children and Gender Inequality: Evidence from Denmark, there is a pay gap between men and women in Denmark before having children but it is quite small and their wages increase at the same rate. As soon as the first child is born though, women’s gross earnings decrease 30% while childfree women’s earnings continued to rise. Overall, mother’s are paid 20% less. Men experience little to no difference in their earnings after the birth of their first child.

So why are women’s wages suffering when they enter the life of parenthood? A 2013 study also conducted by the Pew Research Center uncovers that 42% of mothers reduce their work hours while only 28% of fathers do the same; 39% of mothers take a significant amount of time off of work whereas 24% of fathers do the same; 27% of mothers quit their jobs but only 10% of fathers had to do the same.

How do we fix this problem? Are fathers sharing the same duties of parenthood as mothers? If not, why aren’t they? I definitely think that society holds different standards for mothers than fathers. For a long time, mothers have been expected to be the caregiver and do everything for their children. Fathers, though, are expected to be the breadwinners, working to provide for the family.

We’ve come a long way since the twentieth century–trust me, I know–but there needs to be a cultural shift that has the same expectations for fathers as we do mothers. Overall, society needs to get rid of gender norms. It pressures people to fit into one category which prohibits individuality and change for a better society.

I just hope men and women can establish equality someday. As soon as we stop judging others and start viewing each other as equals, then and only then can we treat others equally.

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