The New York Times Should Have Talked to Us


Researchers note that the pay gap between men and women M.B.A.’s has not narrowed as anticipated now that women are just as likely to get graduate degrees and comparable training. The New York Times reports that the culprit is not “a glass ceiling molded from a male prejudice”.

No, the reason M.B.A. women don’t go as far or succeed as much is because….women have children!!

Now you just give me a minute here to catch my breath.

Men’s and women’s paths diverge at the point of maternity leave. Once interrupted, the lost ground is quite simply never recovered. Then, when women do return to work, they work less. As a result, their earnings drop as compared to men. Time passes, children grow, and their employed mothers lose out on raises, promotions, and declines in earnings and professional advancement accelerate.

Two comments to note: A man’s worklife is virtually unaffected by fatherhood. And the worklives of men and women are virtually identical up until the point where …a woman becomes a mother. “Call a woman without a child a man.”

I suggest that a society in which women perform a disproportionate amount of family caregiving, and the primary factor in professional success is the absence of a competing family obligation, is in fact a society prejudiced against women with children. Women with children, also known as “mothers”, have assumed greater, and sometimes devastating, economic risk.

Women with children don’t work less – they just aren’t getting paid for all the work they do. The economic insecurity that motherhood brings is bad for mothers and their children. When motherhood limits a woman’s earning power and professional potential, the national economy takes a hit.

There are more unmarried women now that at any time in our nation’s history, because women can financially sustain themselves and can control their fertility. As long as motherhood negatively impacts a woman’s autonomy and independence, some will find it an unattractive option. Is it really in our long-term interests, as individuals, as communities, and as a country, to punish those upon whom our future is wholly reliant?

“Perhaps the greatest social service that can be rendered by anybody to this country and to mankind is to bring up a family.” (George Bernard Shaw) When women refuse to do that at their own exclusive cost, the discrimination will end.

“If women want rights more than they got, why don’t they just take them, and not be talking about it?” (Sojourner Truth)


  • Diane Feirman

    I am simply floored by the fact that they are considering this evidence that the disparity is not rooted in predjudice and bias against women. It simply shows that prejudice and discrimination against mothers results in glass ceilings at work and at home combined with the assumption that a few less hours at work result in less competence. Putting aside for the moment (just for the moment) my anger at this baseless assumption, I have another question – Where are the studies measuring how much work the Mothers produce compared to their male counterparts in fewer hours (I bet they are at least equally, if not more productive)? Are we measuring success solely in terms of hours worked – that is not only like measuring the effectiveness of a drug in treating an illness by measuring how much you take, as opposed to how much your symptoms improve, but is also an outmoded way of thinking about work productivity. I also want to know how it is possible that anyone could justify $45,000 – $80,000 differential when a decade of working a few hours less a week ony adds up to about a 6 month difference in experience. So, does this mean that if two men apply for the same job and one has 6 months more experience, he will make $45,000 – $80,000 more than the other. Oh, I don’t think so!

  • goodreason

    Yes, a glass ceiling is one we don’t see because it seems so “natural” to us.

    Our society is gradually making caregiving, including motherhood, completely economically irrational. And we will reap what we have sown.

    Very well done; I will use some quotes from this blogpost in my writing.

  • faemom

    Great post. It infuriates me to no end that our country STIIL devalues motherhood, and fatherhood for that fact. Our society doesn’t want to recognize that to be a good parent one must sacrifice a little at work. And if our country wasn’t so work-driven, if our country could add a week or two for personal, sick or vacation days, maybe, just maybe, mothers wouldn’t have to take off time to be better mothers. And don’t even get me started on how pathetic maternity leave in our country is. Until we recognize people’s priorities should be family first instead of work, we will have the disperancy in wages as it is the mother who will sacrifice her career for her family.
    Again, great post.

  • kmaschka

    Great post Valerie. I too was shocked that they were shocked by their own research that motherhood is where the paths diverge. We have to get the message out that the wage gap these days is less a women’s issue and more a mother’s issue and an issue for anyone who has caregiving responsibilities.

  • kmaschka

    Great job Valerie. I too was shocked that they were shocked by the results of their research. We have to get the message out that the wage gap issue is no longer much of a women’s issue, it’s a mother’s issue and an issue for anyone with caregiving responsibilities. The bias is built into the system and structure itself.

  • Muriel Strand

    I totally agree with Sojourner Truth. I think this is also what Malcolm X was saying.