Doing a number on mothers
Every time I raise the pay equity issue -- you know, how women make 71 cents on the male dollar -- the usual suspects weigh in on how guys take on higher-risk, heavier-duty, more manly work and so they deserve more money yada yada.
Never mind that all that macho stuff is not relevant when discussing, say, how nurses are compensated in comparison to hospital electricians. Who is on her feet all day, or all night? Who has more responsibility? Stress? Training? Education?
But let's leave that for now and focus on today's release from Statistics Canada:
About 70% of the observed motherhood earnings gap can be accounted for by factors such as career interruption, part-time employment, and other individual or job characteristics.
Overall, the results suggest that employer practices may not be a major factor underlying the gap. But the earnings losses incurred by single mothers, mothers with a long career interruption and those with three or more children are significant.
At the age of 30, the gap widened to 19%. Although it shrank slightly between the ages of 34 and 38, it widened further thereafter. For example, at age 40 the gap became 21%.
Much of this widening gap can be attributed to the career interruptions of mothers. Women with children had almost a six-year difference between their actual and potential work experience, while women without children had a disparity of just above one year.
Long career interruptions had a strong negative impact on the earnings of mothers. For example, the difference in average hourly earnings between childless women and mothers with more than three years of interruption was close to 30% at the age of 40.
Among mothers with different lengths of interruption, the gaps were significant only for mothers who had more than three years of interruption.
The study controlled for both observed factors (such as education) and unobserved factors such as career motivation.
The gap was also related to the number of children: it was fully explained for mothers with one child but remained significant for mothers of two or more children.
The earnings gap between single mothers and single childless women was almost twice as large as that between married mothers and married childless women. Once other individual characteristics were controlled for, the gap for married mothers disappeared, while that for single mothers persisted.
Well-educated (more than high school) mothers incurred greater earnings losses than less educated mothers. This was still so even after controlling for other individual characteristics.
Overall, about 70% of the earnings gap was accounted for by observed individual characteristics and unobserved factors.
But persistent gaps for certain groups of mothers were still evident. In particular, lone mothers, mothers with three or more children and highly educated mothers incurred greater losses than married mothers, mothers with one child, and mothers with less than a high school education.
Now, what does this tell us?
Not only are women punished financially for replenishing the population, but they (and by extension, their children) end up dependent on the kindness/generosity of their partners, if they have them, or the state.
If they're stuck with abusive mates, well, tough.
What's more, they often end up poorer in old age because they did not sock away as much pension earnings as men.
Which is why feminists fight for reproductive choices, childcare options, better housing and social services for women.
Nah. I didn't think so.