Public Release: 1-Dec-2016
Taking time off work to raise children is damaging to the careers of highly skilled women
American Sociological Association
Mothers who leave work to raise children often sacrifice more than the pay for their time off; when they come back their wages reflect lost raises, according to a new study by Paula England, Professor of Sociology at New York University.
"In the case of highly skilled white women with high wages, what is striking is that they have the highest penalties despite the fact that they have the most continuous work experience of any group of women, which, other things being equal, would reduce their penalties," wrote England. "Their high returns to experience and tenure mean that loss of every year of work caused by motherhood is much more costly for their future wages, even in proportionate terms, than it is for other groups of women."
England investigated how motherhood penalized white and black women, and how this varied by the skill and wage level of the women. She found that:
Highly skilled, highly paid white women lose an average of 10 percent in their wage per child.
White women with lower skills and/or lower wages lose significantly less, between 4 and 7 percent of their wage per child.
The penalties were lower for black women than for white women; however, unlike the white women, the penalties for black women did not differ significantly by skill or wage.