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Female Executives and the Motherhood Penalty

Author

Listed:
  • Seth Murray
  • Danielle H. Sandler
  • Matthew Staiger

Abstract

Childbirth and subsequent breaks from the labor market are a primary reason why the average earnings of women is lower than that of men. This paper uses linked survey and administrative data from the United States to investigate whether the sex composition of executives at the firm, defined as the top earners, affects the earnings and employment outcomes of new mothers. We begin by documenting that (i) the male-female earnings gap is smaller in industries in which a larger share of executives are women, and (ii) the male-female earnings gap has declined more in industries that have experienced larger increases in the share of executives who are female. Despite these cross-sectional and longitudinal correlations, we find no evidence that the sex composition of the executives at the firm has a causal effect on the childbirth and motherhood penalties that impact women's earnings and employment.

Suggested Citation

  • Seth Murray & Danielle H. Sandler & Matthew Staiger, 2021. "Female Executives and the Motherhood Penalty," Working Papers 21-03, Center for Economic Studies, U.S. Census Bureau.
  • Handle: RePEc:cen:wpaper:21-03
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    File URL: https://www2.census.gov/ces/wp/2021/CES-WP-21-03.pdf
    File Function: First version, 2021
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    motherhood penalty; male-female pay gap;

    JEL classification:

    • J16 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Economics of Gender; Non-labor Discrimination
    • M50 - Business Administration and Business Economics; Marketing; Accounting; Personnel Economics - - Personnel Economics - - - General

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