Research from the Université Paris-Saclay has revealed that mothers are paid 3 per cent less for every child that they have compared to female colleagues who do not have children, while fathers suffer no difference in pay at all.
Sixteen years of data from organisations in the French private sector between 1995 and 2011 was analysed by Lionel Wilner, Director of Graduate Studies at engineering and statistics school ENSAE, and founding member of Université Paris-Saclay.
Wilner separated the effect of childbirth from other firm-specific wage determinants, also accounting for full-time and part-time employment, and found that the average difference between mothers and colleagues without children was a 3 per cent lower hourly wage, with the effect more pronounced after the birth of the first child.
Reasons behind the rift in the pay gap can be seen as mothers allocated roles with less risky assignments, so are more unlikely to receive bonuses and more likely to become trapped in low-wage trajectories. Capital depreciation, an often misused measure of economic value of an employee’s skill set, is also a factor.
While fathers do not experience any loss of earnings after childbirth, they also do not enjoy any benefit suggested by previous research relating to the ‘fatherhood premium’ term, suggesting moderate pay increases and career progression, indicating that this has know eroded.
“Gender inequalities persist within households, in terms of the share of domestic work or bargaining power, but they also persist within firms,” said Wilner. “The gender pay gap, occupational gender segregation and the glass ceiling are the most striking examples – but an obvious example of gender inequality is related to childbirth. The motherhood penalty accounts for noticeable hourly wage differences following childbirth.
“This is both unfair and inefficient. It requires further public intervention, including campaigns against discrimination, development of on-the-job childcare, and extension of paternity leave. A paternity leave of the same duration as maternity leave would bring down this gender gap.”