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?
SPONSORED FEATURES
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: IT Support Engineer

£18000 - £26000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity for an I...

Recruitment Genius: Project Assistant

£17000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They are a leading company in the field ...

Recruitment Genius: DBA Developer - SQL Server

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Office Manager

£26041 - £34876 per annum: Recruitment Genius: There has never been a more exc...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Larry Fink, the boss of fund manager BlackRock , is among those sounding the alarm  

Not all discounts are welcome: Beware the myopia of company bosses

Ben Chu
Cilla Black lived her life in front of the lens, whether on television or her earlier pop career  

Cilla Black dead: A sad farewell to the singer who gave us a 'lorra, lorra laughs'

Gerard Gilbert
Turkey-Kurdish conflict: Obama's deal with Ankara is a betrayal of Syrian Kurds and may not even weaken Isis

US betrayal of old ally brings limited reward

Since the accord, the Turks have only waged war on Kurds while no US bomber has used Incirlik airbase, says Patrick Cockburn
VIPs gather for opening of second Suez Canal - but doubts linger over security

'A gift from Egypt to the rest of the world'

VIPs gather for opening of second Suez Canal - but is it really needed?
Jeremy Corbyn dresses abysmally. That's a great thing because it's genuine

Jeremy Corbyn dresses abysmally. That's a great thing because it's genuine

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, applauds a man who clearly has more important things on his mind
The male menopause and intimations of mortality

Aches, pains and an inkling of mortality

So the male menopause is real, they say, but what would the Victorians, 'old' at 30, think of that, asks DJ Taylor
Man Booker Prize 2015: Anna Smaill - How can I possibly be on the list with these writers I have idolised?

'How can I possibly be on the list with these writers I have idolised?'

Man Booker Prize nominee Anna Smaill on the rise of Kiwi lit
Bettany Hughes interview: The historian on how Socrates would have solved Greece's problems

Bettany Hughes interview

The historian on how Socrates would have solved Greece's problems
Art of the state: Pyongyang propaganda posters to be exhibited in China

Art of the state

Pyongyang propaganda posters to be exhibited in China
Mildreds and Vanilla Black have given vegetarian food a makeover in new cookbooks

Vegetarian food gets a makeover

Long-time vegetarian Holly Williams tries to recreate some of the inventive recipes in Mildreds and Vanilla Black's new cookbooks
The haunting of Shirley Jackson: Was the gothic author's life really as bleak as her fiction?

The haunting of Shirley Jackson

Was the gothic author's life really as bleak as her fiction?
Bill Granger recipes: Heading off on holiday? Try out our chef's seaside-inspired dishes...

Bill Granger's seaside-inspired recipes

These dishes are so easy to make, our chef is almost embarrassed to call them recipes
Ashes 2015: Tourists are limp, leaderless and distinctly UnAustralian

Tourists are limp, leaderless and distinctly UnAustralian

A woefully out-of-form Michael Clarke embodies his team's fragile Ashes campaign, says Michael Calvin
Blairites be warned, this could be the moment Labour turns into Syriza

Andrew Grice: Inside Westminster

Blairites be warned, this could be the moment Labour turns into Syriza
HMS Victory: The mystery of Britain's worst naval disaster is finally solved - 271 years later

The mystery of Britain's worst naval disaster is finally solved - 271 years later

Exclusive: David Keys reveals the research that finally explains why HMS Victory went down with the loss of 1,100 lives
Survivors of the Nagasaki atomic bomb attack: Japan must not abandon its post-war pacifism

'I saw people so injured you couldn't tell if they were dead or alive'

Nagasaki survivors on why Japan must not abandon its post-war pacifism
Jon Stewart: The voice of Democrats who felt Obama had failed to deliver on his 'Yes We Can' slogan, and the voter he tried hardest to keep onside

The voter Obama tried hardest to keep onside

Outgoing The Daily Show host, Jon Stewart, became the voice of Democrats who felt the President had failed to deliver on his ‘Yes We Can’ slogan. Tim Walker charts the ups and downs of their 10-year relationship on screen