Getting a job: Is there a motherhood penalty?
Survey research finds that mothers suffer a substantial wage penalty, although the causal mechanism producing it remains elusive. The authors employed a laboratory experiment to evaluate the hypothesis that status-based discrimination plays an important role and an audit study of actual employers to assess its real-world implications. In both studies, participants evaluated application materials for a pair of same-gender equally qualified job candidates who differed on parental status. The laboratory experiment found that mothers were penalized on a host of measures, including perceived competence and recommended starting salary. Men were not penalized for, and sometimes benefited from, being a parent. The audit study showed that actual employers discriminate against mothers, but not against fathers.
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