Study: Single mothers don't see a 'motherhood penalty'
- Bias against working parents differs based on marital status, University of Arizona (UA) research found. While married working mothers are known to suffer a "motherhood penalty" in terms of pay and promotions, married working father often enjoy a "fatherhood premium," placing them ahead of their male colleagues without children.
- But in this latest study, researchers concluded that those penalties and premiums may not exist for single parents. As part of the research, 160 college students viewed fictitious resumes; single working mothers were perceived as breadwinners, and not seen as less competent or committed. Single working fathers were seen as breadwinners and caretakers, but like single working mothers, they were neither penalized or praised.
- Researcher Jurgita Abromaviciute, UA sociology doctoral student, said she plans on extending the study to include a broader base of subjects.
A pay and leadership disparity based on gender stereotypes persists, studies show, regardless of the actual job performance and achievements of working mothers. When comparing men and women with equal education, with the same college majors working in the same occupation, women still earn only 92 cents for every dollar earned by men, recent Georgetown University research revealed — and the motherhood penalty is likely part of that unexplained gap.
To remedy this disparity, some employers are conducting pay audits and standardizing the criteria on which performance reviews are based. Others say employers won't see a change until they give working fathers paid parental leave. Such a move requires more than a policy change, however; it also requires a change in a workplace's cultural mindset, whereby caregiving is no longer perceived as largely the responsibility of women.
Such a move may ensure compliance with federal nondiscrimination law, too, if an employer offers paid parental leave to women. Estée Lauder, for example, recently updated its paid parental leave plan to provide both men and women equal bonding time for new children. The company had been the target of a U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission lawsuit alleging that it denied men the same privileges that women received; it settled that suit for $1.1 million and made the policy changes.
- University of Arizona Workplace Bias Differs for Single Versus Married Parents