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Why Is the Pay Gap Wider for Women With Children?

Amber is an equality advocate who believes the wage gap is a travesty.

Women should be pair fairly for their work regardless of whether or not they have children.

Women should be pair fairly for their work regardless of whether or not they have children.

No matter who you are, you had to work hard to get to the place you are at right now. No one can tell you that you do not deserve to be where you are today. You—and you only—worked hard to get there. Most people are aware of the pay gap for men and women, but what about women compared to other women? Women with children are paid less than both women with no children and men with children.

According to How the Gender Pay Gap Widen as Women Get Promotions by Harvard Business Review, women who take off from work or leave early for family functions are paid 4.3 percent less than men. Even those who leave one to two times a month are still paid 4.2 percent less than men. This is startling information because companies are encouraging women to have families and a life outside of work, but this is preventing us from moving up in the workforce.

Due to women missing more work hours than the average employee, women with children are not being considered for promotions. There is something called the motherhood wage penalty. The penalty is decided on one’s income, so a higher-income earner pays less, while a lower income earner pays more.

Either way, women with children are paying a specific amount of money. Fortunately for women without children, they do not have to pay this penalty, and men earn the fatherhood bonus. The fatherhood bonus is exactly what it sounds like—a wage bonus for recent fathers. The government accountability office shows that women with children who have a management position still only make 79 cents for every dollar compared to men with children.

According to Shana Lebowitz in 2015, a study showed that men are 15 percent more likely to get promotions than women. This affects the way women work and set goals for themselves. They are not pursuing top executive positions because they think they will not get the jobs and that men will, even though women are 20 percent more likely to stay at a job than men.

It is questionable why an employer would want to risk having a top executive that has a higher potential of leaving the position versus someone who would stay in the position longer. Women with children are also 15 percent more likely to want a top executive position, but 90 percent of men and women say that they fear leaving work for their family, knowing it could potentially hurt their careers in the future.

Unfortunately, women with children are reconsidering applying to these positions because they think they will not get the promotion for family reasons. The GAO reported that even though today, women are more educated and productive, they still do not receive the amount of money they should.

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Although all this information about the pay gap is from America, I want to compare it with how Denmark values women. According to Ivana Kottasova in 2014, women are in better-paying jobs than men and earn two percent more than them. It is only one of five countries in which women tend to make more money than men. The other countries are Mozambique, Burundi, Rwanda, and Malawi. These countries demonstrate that women with children can make as much or more money than men.

Women go to school, get degrees, and land their dream jobs, but they eventually want to have a family. Unfortunately, they are being penalized and not receiving the pay and promotions they deserve. Men and women without children can apply for the top executive promotions and have a chance of getting the job, while women with children who really want the job are not considered for the positions.

As we find out more information about other countries that treat women in a more equal way, it should make us re-think our situation and realize that women with children do deserve the same chances anyone else who is capable of doing the job. There needs to be a smaller wage gap in the United States—ideally, none at all.

Women need to stand together and realize our pay is suffering all because we want to have families. Our employers need to understand that we are mothers, but we are also hard workers. We are focused and driven in all aspects of life, and we should not be punished or treated differently because we have given life to a younger generation. Women can get their jobs done even with children, and we deserve to have the opportunity to demonstrate that.

Works Cited

Authenticated U.S. Government Information. New Evidence on the Gender Pay Gap for Women and Mothers in Management. Congress of the United States, Joint Economic Committee, Washington D.C. Available at: Accessed: 10/20/2017.

Frank, L. (2017, April 11). How the Gender Pay Gap Widens as Women Get Promoted. Retrieved October 21, 2017, from

Kottasova, I. (2014). U.S. is 65th in the world on gender pay gap. Retrieved October 31,2017, from

Lebowitz, S. (2015, October 01). A new study from Lean In and McKinsey finds exactly how much more likely men are to get promoted than women. Retrieved October 31, 2017, from

© 2017 Amber Nugent

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