New research from the Proceedings Of The National Academy Of Sciences (PNAS) suggests that mothers are immediately and substantially impacted at work the moment they become a parent.
The arrival of a firstborn child doesn’t have any effect on a man’s earnings, moms experience a 51% dock in pay, equivalent to an average of $8,000 annually, an analysis of the report says.
It continued: The motherhood penalty only persisted as the child aged; researchers found that six years after the first child’s birth, the pay gap between father and mother increased slightly.
The “motherhood penalty” it speaks of is America’s cultural stereotypes regarding work and parenthood, the researchers coined.
“What’s striking about the U.S. motherhood penalty is how universal it seems,” Almond tells Fortune in a July 18 report. “Even when the female partner outearns her male partner and we might expect the lower-paid dad to ‘step up’ at home, we find a still larger motherhood penalty: around 60% of earnings.”
“There is a culture of U.S. dads not contributing as much childcare as in other countries,” he continued, pointing to his own experience as a father. While based in New York City, his wife is Swedish and their daughters have dual citizenship in the two countries. He said he was “always struck by how few dads were at playgrounds in New York City” and the assumption that he was just “filling in.” The difference is visible in Stockholm, he said, where “you see as many dads as moms caring for their children.”
As previously reported recent data from Pew Research released in April revealed that in almost half of the opposite-sex marriages in the US, women are making at least or more money than their husbands. Most interestingly, Black women are leading the charge in this new marital dynamic. Despite this, they are still bearing the brunt of domestic responsibility in their households.
“Nearly one-third of wives earn roughly the same amount as their husbands, while the woman is the primary or sole breadwinner in 16% of marriages,” the report said. “In egalitarian and breadwinner wife marriages, husbands spend considerably more time on leisure activities than wives. Husbands in egalitarian marriages spend about 3.5 hours more per week on leisure activities than wives do. Wives in these marriages spend roughly 2 hours more per week on caregiving than husbands do and about 2.5 hours more on housework. In marriages where wives are the primary earners, husbands’ leisure time increases significantly (compared with egalitarian marriages), while the time they spend on caregiving and housework stays about the same.”
Conversely, a Harvard study found that mothers are often less likely to be hired and offered lower pay than women who are child-free.
Despite this, Almond shared with Fortune that there’s hope for a better future for women. “Culture can and does change,” but it’s going to require a concerted and collective effort.