This is not just men trouncing women – it's complicated

 

Share
Related Topics

Have baby, earn less – might as well inscribe this on every pregnancy test. Most women know that, once they have children, they'll be subject to a "motherhood pay penalty". But the IPPR report reveals something new: while mothers earn less than they would if they hadn't had children, fathers earn more.

Wouldn't you know it: it's blokes contriving to come off better again. I've long been suspicious of chaps who parade their paternity with framed photos of their kids on their desk. In most workplaces fatherhood is seen as an asset, making you a better-rounded person, while motherhood – whatever the official line – is regarded as a disadvantage, rendering women less reliable. (As we probably are: when someone needs to stay home with a sick child, it's usually mother.)

Perhaps men earn more when fathers because a sense of responsibility makes them strive more. Many, too, feel that they need to earn more if their partner is earning less. Or they may have put off having children until they have greater earning power.

Yet when you look at the figures closely, a more complex picture emerges. For a start they refer to full-time workers. If the study had covered part-timers it might have found less of a male advantage: men who work part-time are much more likely to metamorphose into the full-time jugglers that most mothers become.

Second, not all full-time mothers are equally disadvantaged: those born in 1970 who had their first child between the ages of 25 and 32 are penalised less than those born in 1958. This would suggest that things are getting better for women in the workplace.

Not so fast, though: for those who had their first child between 18 and 24 things have got significantly worse. Social class is the culprit: things may be better for professional women more likely to defer childbearing, but not for working-class women who have kids younger.

And just as you can't lump all women together so too do men resist stereotyping. The decline in manufacturing in the 1980s coincided with the growth of female employment in the service industries and greater male unemployment. No fatherhood pay bonus for these men.

For, in the end, employment isn't a zero-sum game, a case of either men or women. Most two-parent households can only get by with both parents in work, and single parents have no choice. We need to find a more equitable way of distributing work – between the ages, the sexes and the social classes – and rewarding it. Other countries seem to manage it. Iceland, Sweden and Denmark have much higher maternal employment than we do, along with great, cheap childcare and parental leave. Instead of a maternal pay penalty and a fatherhood pay bonus we need parental and non-parental pay equity.

And ditch the photos.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Tradewind Recruitment: English Teacher

Negotiable: Tradewind Recruitment: My client is an excellent, large partially ...

Tradewind Recruitment: Science Teacher

£90 - £140 per day: Tradewind Recruitment: I am currently working in partnersh...

Tradewind Recruitment: Year 3 Primary Teacher

£100 - £150 per day: Tradewind Recruitment: Year 3 Teacher Birmingham Jan 2015...

Ashdown Group: Lead Web Developer (ASP.NET, C#) - City of London

£45000 - £50000 per annum + Excellent benefits: Ashdown Group: Lead Web Develo...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

i Editor's Letter: Science versus religion in the three-parent baby debate

Oliver Duff Oliver Duff
Kylie has helped to boost viewing figures for the talent show  

When an Aussie calls you a ‘bastard’, you know you’ve arrived

Howard Jacobson
Isis hostage crisis: The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power

Isis hostage crisis

The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power, says Robert Fisk
Missing salvage expert who found $50m of sunken treasure before disappearing, tracked down at last

The runaway buccaneers and the ship full of gold

Salvage expert Tommy Thompson found sunken treasure worth millions. Then he vanished... until now
Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Maverick artist Grayson Perry backs our campaign
Assisted Dying Bill: I want to be able to decide about my own death - I want to have control of my life

Assisted Dying Bill: 'I want control of my life'

This week the Assisted Dying Bill is debated in the Lords. Virginia Ironside, who has already made plans for her own self-deliverance, argues that it's time we allowed people a humane, compassionate death
Move over, kale - cabbage is the new rising star

Cabbage is king again

Sophie Morris banishes thoughts of soggy school dinners and turns over a new leaf
11 best winter skin treats

Give your moisturiser a helping hand: 11 best winter skin treats

Get an extra boost of nourishment from one of these hard-working products
Paul Scholes column: The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him

Paul Scholes column

The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him
Frank Warren column: No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans

Frank Warren's Ringside

No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans
Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

Homeless Veterans appeal

MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

Comedians share stories of depression

The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

Has The Archers lost the plot?

A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

14 office buildings added to protected lists

Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee