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What is the Motherhood Penalty?

By Leslie Hughes

Wait there’s actually a name for it??? That’s right, and there’s also a lot of research backing up the experiences of mothers facing bias in the workplace. Mothers encounter disadvantages in pay, perceived competence, and benefits relative to childless women. Strong stereotypes that women are supposed to be at home and raise children can mean that moms who work outside of the household are often perceived to be less committed or less competent than other employees.

Research shows that mothers are less likely to be hired compared to women who don’t have kids. And when employers do make an offer to a mother, they offer her a lower salary than other women. Men, by contrast, do not suffer a penalty when they become dads. In fact, according to the American Association of University Women (AAUW), there’s some evidence of a “fatherhood bonus” in which their earnings actually increase.

Mothers make 70 cents for every dollar paid to fathers. A study by Census Bureau researchers found that around the time of the birth of a couple’s first child the earnings gap between opposite-sex spouses doubles! The gap continues to grow until that child reaches age 10. Though it narrows after that, it never disappears completely.

Danielle, the founder of A Timeout with Mom, talks about the very real barriers that mothers face in the workplace and offers great advice in this 30-min episode of LEAD with Dr. Leslie. Follow @drlesliehughes on social media and visit for advice and resources that help expand your leadership![/vc_column_text]

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