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<p>This, despite the fact <a href=”” target=”_blank”>that millennial women are getting college degrees at higher rates than men</a>, proving that we can’t educate ourselves out of the motherhood penalty. </p><p>”Families depend on women’s incomes, yet mothers, regardless of their education level, their age, where they live, or their occupation, are paid less than fathers. When mothers are shortchanged, children suffer and poverty rises. Families are counting on us to close the maternal wage gap,” <a href=”” target=”_blank”>says Emily Martin,</a> NWLC General Counsel and Vice President for Education and Workplace Justice. </p><p>The COVID-19 has illuminated just how big of a problem discrimination against mothers can be. </p>

This mom says she was fired because her kids were heard on business calls 

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</div></blockquote></div><p>A California mom blogger is going viral this week for something no mom wants to experience.</p><p><strong>Dris, the mom behind <a href=”” target=”_blank”>Modern Cali Mom, </a>says she was fired after being discriminated against because her boss could hear her two small children on calls. </strong></p><p>Like many mothers, Dris has been working from home without childcare since the pandemic began. </p><p>”The last 3 months I have worked around the clock from home while watching my two toddlers,” the mom of two writes in a now-viral Instagram post. </p><p>She continues: “I have met all the deadlines they have asked me for, even the unrealistic ones. The situation that I had endured the last 3 months is beyond stressful. How does a company that says that they understand and will work around the schedule of parents do the complete opposite with their actions? I’m devastated. I have poured hours, tears, sweats, delayed giving my child a snack when he wanted one because my boss needed me to do something right away.” </p><p>Motherly has reached out to this mama for more specifics on her situation and will update this post if we can get more information on the company she worked for. But in the meantime, it’s important to note that what she’s describing is sadly common. </p><p><a href=”” target=”_blank”>As the<em> Washington Post </em>reports</a>, when single mom Stephanie Jones asked her bosses if she could have flex time to help deal with not having school of childcare for her 11-year-old during the pandemic, she was told to take leave or resign and was eventually fired. She’s suing. </p><p><a href=”” target=”_blank”>Many moms (and dads!) now have a child appearing in the background of video calls</a> or popping into the office to ask for a snack in the middle of an important project. It’s happening. And until we get childcare back, we can’t help it and we can’t all just resign or take all our leave. The laws recognize this, and employers need to, too. </p><p>”As school closures continue, the fragile safety net people have cobbled together will start to fray,” lawyer Alexis Ronickher, a partner at the firm Katz, Marshall &amp; Banks, told the <em>Washington Post.</em> “My expectation is we’ll start to see a lot more problems for caregivers and very much expect them to have a disproportionate effect on women.”</p><p>This was a problem before the pandemic and working from home is putting a magnifying glass over it. </p><p>As <a href=”” target=”_blank”>Caitlyn Collins</a>, a sociology professor at Washington University in St. Louis and author of Making Motherhood Work <a href=”” target=”_blank”>recently told <em>Marketplace</em>,</a> “Women tend to be penalized for any signal that they are caregivers in the workplace, whereas men tend to receive benefits,” she said.</p><p>What we’re seeing during the pandemic, through stories like the one Dris shared, is just how true (and how damaging) that is. </p>

<p><br/></p><h2>Why the motherhood penalty (and fatherhood bonus) exist </h2><p>The gap in the pay between mothers and fathers is due to how parents are perceived in our culture. A 2007 study published in the <em>American Journal of Sociology</em> found<em> </em><a href=”″ target=”_blank”><u>working mothers are penalized</u></a> in the form of “lower perceived competence and commitment, higher professional expectations, lower likelihood of hiring and promotion, and lower recommended salaries.”</p><p><strong><a href=”” target=”_blank”>And as CNBC reports</a>, a more recent study by childcare provider <a href=”” target=”_blank”>Bright Horizons</a> found that 41% of American workers perceive working moms as being less devoted to their careers. </strong></p><p>But becoming a dad doesn’t put dads at a disadvantage, or make them appear less committed. It actually often results in a so-called “<a href=”” target=”_blank”>fatherhood bonus</a>.” A recent study published in the journal <a href=”″ target=”_blank”><em>Work, Employment and Society</em></a>, found having kids often results in men earning more, even when they aren’t particularly hard workers.</p><p>According to the study’s lead author, Sylvia Fuller, this suggests that our preconceived cultural ideas about fatherhood are impacting employers thinking and parents’ paychecks. “They think dads are working hard, they have positive stereotypes about them, or maybe they just think, you know, dads deserve more because they’re thinking of their family responsibilities,” <a href=”” target=”_blank”>Fuller told Global News.</a></p><h2>Moms are still the default parent </h2><p>While parenthood dulls a woman’s CV, it gives fathers’ a shine because mothers are still seen as the default parent in our culture. Not only do men make more after becoming dads, but researchers have also found that <a href=”” target=”_self”>men’s leisure time increased after parenthood</a>, while mothers see their workload at home increase. And because the wider society knows that women carry <a href=”” target=”_self”>heavier loads at home and spend more work more hours doing unpaid labor</a>, employers see us as distracted by our other responsibilities. </p><p><strong>Basically, employers see fathers as people who have big-picture responsibilities to their families and a lot of support in raising their kids. They see moms as the managers of the small stuff and know that many of us don’t have a lot of support in managing that load. </strong></p><h2>Closing the gap by changing the way we view fathers </h2><p>We can’t close this gap by only changing the way employers think about mothers. We also have to change the way our society thinks about dads. Today’s dads want to be <a href=”″ target=”_blank”>more involved in their children’s lives and have pretty egalitarian beliefs </a>about dividing household responsibilities between partners, but many find they can’t live up to those beliefs. Most fathers in America can’t take paternity leave <a href=”” target=”_blank”>and those that have the option of doing so only take about a third of what is available</a> for fear of being seen as uncommitted.</p><p>”Fathers repeatedly tell researchers <a href=”” target=”_blank”>they want to be more involved parents</a>, yet public policy and social institutions often prevent them from being the dads they want to be – hurting moms, dads and children alike,” writes <a href=”” target=”_blank”> Kevin Shafe</a><a href=”″ target=”_blank”>r</a>, an associate professor of sociology at Brigham Young University. </p><h2>An investment needs to be made </h2><p>That extra $16,000 that mothers are missing isn’t going to come without investment from society. The United States is the only member country of the <a href=”” target=”_blank”>Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD)</a> without paid parental leave and also <a href=”” target=”_blank”>spends less on early childhood education</a> than most other developed countries.</p><p>Investing in paid family leave and affordable, quality childcare would level the playing field for mothers, but that’s just the first part of change that needs to happen. We need employers and lawmakers to implement parental leave policies, but we also need our peers to embrace and encourage their use <em>for all parents. </em></p><p><em></em>When fathers are expected and respected as caregivers, mothers are no longer seen as the default parent at home or at work. When the parenting responsibilities equalize, so will the paychecks. </p><p>Pay inequality happens all over the world,<a href=”” target=”_blank”> but the country that has come the closest to closing the gap, </a>Iceland, <a href=”″ target=”_blank”>the majority of fathers take parental leave. </a> That isn’t a coincidence, it’s a recipe for change.</p><p>Post-pandemic America needs to look different in so many ways, and this is one of them. </p><p><em>[A version of this post was originally published March 25, 2019. It has been updated.] </em></p><p><strong><br/></strong></p>

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