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At Work, It’s Better to be a Father Than a Mother

Topics: Current Events
While working mothers struggle with decreased pay and lack of status in a workplace that sees them as unreliable, working fathers enjoy improved status, pay, and benefits that help a growing family survive.

While working mothers struggle with decreased pay and lack of status in a workplace that sees them as unreliable, working fathers enjoy improved status, pay, and benefits that help a growing family survive.

(Photo Credit: Lars Plougmann/Flickr)

Kudos to Alexandra Petri at the The Washington Post for calling out The Telegraph for its headline, Mother of Three Poised to Lead the BBC. Perhaps there are readers out there who would not flinch at the idea that a professional woman would be defined by her number of children, but they should. On the other hand, maybe the real takeaway is that we’re still surprised when a woman can “do it all” — have three kids and a high-level position in the corporate world.

Do You Know What You're Worth?

In a more subtle fashion, we also define professional males by how many children they have sired, but for the men, it’s a bonus.

No Daddy Tax

The “Mommy Tax” refers to mothers being offered less pay than childless women, who still receive less pay than men. In addition to there being no “Daddy Tax,” current research suggests fathers enjoy greater status than everyone else at work. The New York Times reports that: 

…employers rate fathers as the most desirable employees, followed by childless women, childless men and finally mothers. They also hold mothers to harsher performance standards and are less lenient when they are late.

Women in the top ten percent of earners are not penalized when they have kids, but that leaves a lot of working mothers trying to feed their families while earning less pay. Low income men in labor jobs may not receive much of a bonus, but men who are educated and have professional positions receive bigger pay when they have children.

What You Can Do

There is not much any one person can do to solve this pervasive form of discrimination, but there are ways to protect yourself. If you are a woman, avoid putting anything on your resume that indicates motherhood. Examples include participation in parent-teacher organizations. If you need to negotiate a flexible schedule, remember you are not obligated to explain why. While it may seem stand-offish, you may politely say you would appreciate the opportunity for a flexible schedule, and mention what that means (does it mean coming in early and leaving early, or working from home, or something else?)

And if you are a childless man, why not put pictures of your nieces and nephews in your office? It couldn’t hurt.

Tell Us What You Think

Has having children affected your career, and how? We want to hear from you! Leave a comment or join the discussion on Twitter.


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