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NPO publishes blog articles to inform and to stimulate conversation about issues of importance to NPO's mission.  All blog articles express the opinions of the authors as individuals and do not necessarily reflect the views of National Parents Organization, its Board of Directors, or its executives.  

January 7th, 2013 by Robert Franklin, Esq.
Drawing patently false conclusions from data on pay for mothers and fathers has long been a staple of those who seek to convince governments to do what mothers refuse to, i.e. do as much paid work as much as do fathers.  Here’s another example (Telegraph, 12/22/12).  The Canadian think tank, the Institute for Public Policy Research has recently compiled information on mothers, fathers and the difference between the two in earnings.  The data aren’t surprising; neither are the conclusions drawn by the IPPR and swallowed whole by the Telegraph reporter.

The IPPR studied two cohorts of men and women – born in 1958 and 1970. Mothers born in 1958 earned on average 14 per cent less by the time whey were 40 than childless women born in the same year.

Mothers born in 1970 typically earned 11 per cent less than their childless female colleagues by the time they reached their late 30s…

In contrast with mothers, fathers born in 1958 were likely to earn 16 per cent more, again by the age of 40, than men without children. For those born in 1970, the “increase” had risen to 19 per cent.

Now, a moment’s thought about those figures could lead to some very non-controversial conclusions, but for the most part, the obvious escapes the IPPR.  The “takeaways” from the information are simple.  When women have children, they tend to leave the workforce, at least for a while, often until the kids reach high school age.  Or they may work part time, or seek a job that allows them to tailor their schedule to that of their children.  Indeed, that’s what other data sets, like that of the Bureau of Labor Statistics, and other studies show.  Despite years of preaching by those who would convince women to sideline motherhood altogether or at least give it a marginal role, large percentages of women keep on valuing their children and their role in the nursery above their role in the workplace.

And when they do, the fathers of those children step up to the plate.  They work longer and harder than their childless counterparts.  Also, they’re less likely to make irresponsible choices, more likely to remain in the workforce and less likely to go to prison or abuse drugs or alcohol.  To its credit, that’s one thing the IPPR gets right.

The IPPR believes that men who become fathers increase their earning capacity because they feel a greater responsibility towards being a breadwinner for their families and compensating, in some cases, for their partners’ reduced earnings.

Many employers are said to value fatherhood because it is thought to make male staff more responsible and loyal – putting them at the top of the queue for promotions.

That makes sense because overall that’s how fathers behave.  But then the organization falls off into silly claims of female victimization and male privilege.

Analysis by the Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR) shows that mothers suffer a “pay penalty ” – with incomes up to 14 per cent less than women who do not have children.

By contrast fathers win a “pay bonus”, according to the statistics. Their salaries are likely to be up to 19 per cent higher than men who do not have children.

Although women have made substantial progress in the workplace over the past three decades, with the “gender pay gap” between men and women in their 20s having almost disappeared, the study shows that having children can set women back professionally.

‘Pay Penalty’ Actually Just Mothers’ Choosing to Work Less, Parent More

No, actually what the IPPR imagines to be a “pay penalty” is really just mothers exercising their freedom of choice.  As countless studies show, women from all walks of life and educational levels, tend to opt to stay home with the children rather than rush back to work after a birth.  They’re permitted to do that by the extra work and earnings of their husbands/partners.  There’s nothing nefarious about it and nothing that requires the intervention of government to “cure.”  From my point of view, women are being more sensible than men because in the end, they have a better work/life balance.  True, they earn less money than do men, but they also have a richer, more complete relationship with their children.

But one of the directors of the IPPR isn’t having it.

Dalia Ben-Galim, associate director of the IPPR, said: “Women havemade lots of progress. Female employment soared in the 1980s, since the mid-1990s girls have been outperforming boys at school at university and in the last decade the gender pay gap between men and women in their twenties has almost disappeared.

“But discussions about gender and pay are often divorced from the wider structural context that drives female disadvantage in work and wages, which is closely associated with their primary responsibility for care, particularly childcare.

The English translation of “wider structural context” is that, despite the best efforts of those who know what’s good for mothers better than do the mothers themselves, mothers still choose rug rats over the rat race whenever possible.  Ms. Ben-Galim added,

“Full time working women born twelve years later, in 1970, are doing better but mothers are still penalised compared both to women without children and to men with children.

No they’re not.  They work less, so they earn less.  It’s that simple.  That’s not a penalty, it’s a consequence of the choices mothers make.  Moreover, it’s a consequence of which those mothers are fully aware.

The Telegraph article as well as Ben-Galim’s remarks both carry the distinct odor of the 1970s effort by feminists to get the government to pay women to have children.  To be sure, they didn’t put it exactly that way, but back then it was thought by some that, since stay-at-home mothers didn’t earn much, their choice to do so should be subsidized by taxpayers.  Feminists’ blindness to any concept save female victimization made them miss the obvious fact that paying parents to stay home would encourage parents to, well, stay home.  To the extent that’s done at all, it’s not politically very popular and governments everywhere have turned their attention to more sensible and pressing business.  If adults want to have children, they need to support them.

Now as then, the Dalia Ben-Galims of the world strongly object to popular culture’s depicting women as happy and fulfilled in their maternal roles.  Therefore, movies, television, advertising, etc. that dare to portray women wanting to be mothers and considering motherhood as beneficial to them are excoriated by radical feminists.  Of course they never seem to notice that all those pop cultural messages are doing is giving voice to one of the most basic and ancient of all desires.  That they seek to silence those entirely legitimate voices speaks volumes about an extremist feminism that’s never had much time for women who deviate from the party line.

Meanwhile, it’s worth noting that the comments to the article have a far better perspective on the situation of fathers and mothers in the workplace than do Ms. Ben-Galim and her organization.

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