Do You Pay the Mom Penalty?
Have you ever been to a job interview and not gotten the job and had a sneaking suspicion that it was because you are a working mom? There is a study that says your suspicions could be correct.
M.P. Dunleavy wrote this article about the “mom penalty” in the money section of the MSN site. She is a working mom who is wondering if mothers are penalized for being moms
She writes of a study that found that there was a bias against mothers when it came to hiring:
Using fake job applications, the researchers found that female candidates whose applications indicated they had children were not only less likely to be offered jobs, but, if they did get job offers, they were typically offered salaries of $11,000 a year less. Male applicants didn't suffer a parental bias.
Dunleavy wonders if there isn’t a grain of truth in these perceptions:
As more women have entered the work force, the issue of so-called work-life balance has turned into a tug-of-war -- for families and for employers. Despite the buzz about flexible work policies, those who take advantage of flex time -- most often mothers -- suffer a stigma of being less reliable employees.
Some of the stereotypes:
- Mothers have divided loyalties. You can't count on a mom; her family comes first.
- Mothers leave work early. The women who pull through on deadlines don't have kids.
- A mother with one child is likely to have another and take time off, so why give her more responsibilities?
- Mothers are distracted. They're always juggling home and work; therefore, they're less productive.
I'd like to expose each of those gripes as the garbage they are, but is there a grain of truth in them?
She then goes on to say that studies have never shown that there is any truth to working mothers being distracted on the job or leaving early. But there is a perception from both men and women that working moms are stretched and unable to balance all their roles. The only way for the perception to shift is if there is a cultural change where men and women are more active in splitting the homefront duties. Once there is a more shared load between the sexes then the perceived mom penalty will slowly evaporate.
It’s been a long time since I worked in an office so I asked a few friends who are in hiring positions what they thought about working moms (keep in mind that all the women I asked are working moms) and they were vehement in their defense of mothers in the office place.
As one friend said, “A work ethic is a work ethic. And you never know who has it until you work with them for a while. I’ve had as many single people call in sick (ie. hangover) as I’ve had women miss work because of a sick kid.”
Another friend who does struggle with her work life balance says that she works just as hard at the office as she does at being mom – even though she has an incredibly stressful job she is the one who is planning the kids activities and planning dinner, she just sleeps less.
So is it perception or reality? Can working moms really be lumped into one distracted, disorganized group ?