A: If you’re a working mom, there’s a good chance you might be missing out. A recent article in The New York Times spotlighted “the motherhood penalty” – or the pay gap that exists between men and women who have children largely due to a persisting cultural bias against mothers. According to the article, “Ms. Budig found that on average men’s earnings increased more than 6 percent when they had children (if they lived with them), while women’s decreased 4 percent for each child they had.”1 The data is yet more evidence that women have to work harder to earn what they’re worth.

 

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So what can women do to empower themselves? Here are some key steps to take:


  1. Be aware that these numbers – seemingly small differences – really do add up over time.
  2. Take proactive steps to ensure you are viewed as an employee who provides exceptional value to your organization. For example, volunteer to take on higher profile assignments where you can showcase your talent and passion to senior management. Making yourself invaluable is a priceless tactic.
  3. Save even more diligently than your male counterparts and stay attuned to the job market so you can negotiate raises and new opportunities from the strongest position. Sometimes the best way to get the pay raise you deserve is to let your bosses know you’re pursuing other opportunities – but you can’t do this unless you are 100% sure you have another job and another paycheck lined up, or you have the means to take time off while you look for a better paying job.
  4. Know that until the pay gap between men and women closes, it is extra important to live within your means as – statistically speaking – you’ll face stronger headwinds than men owing to the combined forces of earning less on the dollar, spending more years out of the paid workforce caring for children and elderly parents, and living longer than men.


The most important point is not to give in and accept that, as a woman, you’ll never make as much as a man. Yes, the odds are tougher, especially if you have kids. But there are steps you can take to close the gap – and achieve the career, the salary and the life you deserve. Share this information with another woman you care about, and you can be part of a growing movement of true gender equality.


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1 The New York Times, “The Motherhood Penalty vs. The Fatherhood Bonus,” September 06 2014