Working moms have to contend with a lot more than sleepless nights. That’s because working moms still face more workplace bias. Even in the 21st century, mothers and mothers-to-be are still struggling to be taken seriously in the workforce.
A 2007 study at Cornell University in New York found that mothers are seen to be less competent than their peers, and were offered starting salaries of $11,000 less than working dads on average. Additionally, a mother’s salary continued to drop 4% with every child.
As a result, some working moms have no choice but to apply for food stamps or Medicaid to cover living expenses and maternity costs. Medicaid is an entitlement program created in 1965 and designed to help people whose income is too low to pay for health care or insurance. Most pregnant women will have “expanded eligibility” for Medicaid coverage, but only temporarily.
Although the number of women in the workforce has dramatically increased to 70% compared to 47.4% in 1970, not only do working mothers have to deal with lower salaries, but they have limited opportunities for advancement, are more likely to leave the workforce, and must deal with distorted perceptions of their productivity in the office.
In fact, there seems to be a large misconception surrounding working mothers’ absenteeism and productivity around the globe.
“Disparities in pay, expectations, and treatment of mothers still stem from inaccurate assumptions about what they accomplish in the workplace,” Julian Lute, from Great Place to Work, recently explained to Fortune. “The fact is, women with children are just as productive as dads. Even if their needs differ somewhat, it’s up to employers to accommodate that and ensure the mothers on their teams can contribute at their full potential.”
Even worse, the United States ranks last among so-called developed countries in studies of paid maternity leave (U.S. maternity leave rules are considered as generous as those of Papua Neu Guinea). While workers’ compensation will pay 100% of medical costs for workers injured on the job (and cash benefits for lost working time), many expectant mothers can expect no maternity benefits whatsoever (to say nothing of paternity leave).
And compare the treatment of working moms to that of working dads. Men are actually more likely to be hired when they are fathers, and their salary grows about 6% with every child they have.
But why is this treatment so different? Turns out the idea is quite archaic and old-fashioned.
“Employers read fathers as more stable and committed to their work; they have a family to provide for,” said Michelle Budig, a sociology professor with the University of Massachusetts who has been studying the parenthood pay gap, to The New York Times.
Turns out that this trend may start at home, without us even realizing it. Mothers who have full-time jobs report doing more housework than working dads, and girls around the world start doing chores at a younger age than boys.
So, for now, mothers are still pushing through the bias and working more than ever. All mothers out there — go ahead and show them who really is boss.