The government’s latest report on the gender pay gap may have proven that we’re all affected by it, although 1500 did miss the deadline, but it turns out the age you have children may mean you’re more impacted than others. Essentially, there is a ten-year window in which having kids is the most problematic for your salary.
Referencing only married couples, a study published by Census Bureau has found that immediately after having your first child the pay gap between spouse’s doubles, as the mothers pay drops while the fathers rises. This was relatively well-known; however the study goes on to find that when couples have their first child when the woman is between 25 and 35, her pay never recovers relative to her husband.
This is in comparison to women who have their first baby before 25 or after 35, whom eventually close the pay gap with their husbands. Supposedly because the ten-year window is ‘prime career-building’ years, women lose out the most since this is also the most common decade for women to have children.
The New York Times attributes this to the idea that women before the age of 25 tend to have lower-earning jobs, which have a smaller pay gap, and may have more flexible jobs and so more time to look after children. They also claim that women over 35 are more likely to be well-established and so can demand more flexibility, plus are more likely to only have one child.
Either way, the study further confirms that women are penalized for having children, whereas men aren’t despite being equally responsible for the child. Were pregnancy and maternity rights better accounted for by employers, and working cultures more flexible in general, the gender pay gap for women between 25-35 may not be as severe.
In November last year, it was reported that the gender pay gap won’t close for another 217 years, so clearly there needs to be huge change in the way we think and resolve gender issues in the workplace. Choosing to have children shouldn’t be detrimental to a woman’s career when it takes two people to decide to start a family.