Are Moms Really Less Committed To Their Jobs? Here’s What The Data Says
Welcome to my weekly Q&A roundup. (Scroll down to find the Q&A.)
If this is your first time here, welcome. I spend a fair amount of time speaking at events and conferences. At the end of my presentations, I leave space for audience members to ask questions—tough questions, brave questions, you name it. The level of candor and curiosity always inspires me, and I want to share that sentiment with you. So each week, I pick one question that I believe others would find most instructive and publish my response to it here.
The purpose of this weekly tradition is transparency and inclusivity.
Transparency: a behind-the-scenes look at my day-to-day.
Inclusivity: bringing others along in the journey.
The Pitfalls Of Mommy Tracking
I have a male colleague who believes gender equality is important. When I asked about sponsoring women (specifically moms who are absorbing the impact of the pandemic), he said he doesn’t want to sponsor moms because they are less invested in their careers. How can I respond to this comment?
Right off the bat, you can ask your colleague for the data on working moms being less committed than other employees. When he can’t find the data, you can explain what the term mommy tracking means.
What Is Mommy Tracking?
Mommy tracking occurs when women face bias in the workplace from colleagues who associate their role as caretakers or potential caretakers with weaker commitments to paid labor.
The 1st myth of mommy tracking:
A comprehensive study found that workers with children are NOT less productive than workers without children. In fact, workers with children are more productive than workers without children.
The 2nd myth of mommy tracking:
Another study (this one from the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis ) found that moms outperform women without children at almost every stage of the employee lifecycle.
Moms outperform women without children at almost every stage of the employee lifecycle.
The evidence of mommy tracking:
Mothers are perceived to be 12.1 percentage points less committed to their jobs than non-mothers, while fathers are perceived to be 5 percentage points more committed to their jobs than non-fathers.
Female applicants who appear not to be mothers are twice as likely to get an interview compared to female applicants who appear to have children.
69% of working adults believe mothers in the workplace are more likely to be passed up for a new job than other employees.
60% of working adults believe career opportunities are given to less qualified employees instead of working moms who may have more skills.
The down-stream consequences of mommy tracking:
Women face a 4% drop in wages for every child they have, whereas men receive a 6% wage increase for having children. (Women with children = not loyal to company vs. men with children = needs money to provide for his family.)
The aggregate wage gap between working mothers and fathers in the US is $18,000 per year. It’s even wider for mothers of color.
For Latina mothers, the aggregate wage gap nearly doubles to an annual loss of $35,000. Over her lifetime, the average working Latina mother will miss out on $1.4 million compared to the average working, white, non-Hispanic father.
Black breadwinner moms have the largest pay gap of any cohort: they earn 44 cents for every dollar white breadwinner dads earn.
Moving beyond bias
Your colleague believes that women are less committed to their jobs than other employees. The data, however, tell a different story. Remember, biases and anecdotes do not always represent the truth. A critical look at the data can help us see past the biases that blind us to better, brighter, more fruitful possibilities. When in doubt, bring the data.
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