The Gender Wage Gap Is Even Wider For Working Moms, And Here’s Why


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Oct. 5 2023, Published 3:00 p.m. ET

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Mothers who work outside of the home full-time or part-time are experiencing significant pay inequity compared to fathers who work outside of the home in the same roles, causing a wide pay gap that makes it difficult for mothers to achieve economic security.

A recent analysis from the National Women’s Law Center shows mothers who work year-round full-time are typically paid 74 cents for every dollar paid to fathers, resulting in a wage gap of $1,500 per month, or $18,000 per year, between mothers and fathers. For Black women, Latinas and Native women, the wage gap is even larger.

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The analysis also shows Latina mothers who work full-time and year-round are paid only 51 cents, Native mothers are only paid 49 cents, and Black mothers are only paid 53 cents for every dollar paid to white, non-Hispanic fathers. These wage gaps add up to almost $40,000 less in wages per year, negatively impacting mothers’ ability to pay rent, buy groceries or pay for childcare.

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Diverse Factors Play A Role

Despite a widespread assumption that achieving an education can help improve economic status, the report reflects that while 46% of employed mothers have a bachelor’s degree (compared to 40% of fathers), mothers are still paid less than fathers who have less education. Mothers who work full-time, year-round with bachelor’s degrees typically make about $61,000 per year, compared to fathers with associates degrees, who are typically paid $62,000 per year. In order to make more money, mothers have to earn a master’s degree just to make more money than father’s with associates degrees.

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The analysis also explored part-time workers’ wages. Almost a quarter of part-time workers have children under 18, and more than 80% of those parents who are working part-time are women.

Interestingly, mothers experience pay inequity in each of the ten jobs where they are most likely to work, many of which are low-paying jobs. Forty percent of mothers are employed in one of ten occupations and in all ten of those occupation mothers are paid less than fathers. Those who work as cashiers and retail salespeople, which is the sixth most common occupation for mothers, make only 56 cents for every dollar a father makes in the same role.

The highest paying occupations for mothers were accountants, auditors, financial managers, registered nurses, and licensed vocational nurses. However, mothers working in these roles are still paid less than fathers in the same roles. The wage gap is smallest for mothers working as preschool and kindergarten teachers and child care workers. These are low-paying jobs, however, so greater pay equity is not enough to achieve economic security, according to the analysis.

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By: Gillian Smith

Gillian Smith is a professional communicator by day and night, leveraging more than a decade in the news industry to share stories that have a positive impact on society. Gillian believes everyone has a story worth telling, and she has made it her professional mission to tell those stories in a responsible way. Gillian received a BA in journalism from Ithaca College and a Master's in Journalism Innovation from Syracuse University. She is currently the director of external communication and media relations at Suffolk University.

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