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Getting a job: Is there a motherhood penalty?

  • In Paik
  • Shelley Correll
  • Stephen Benard
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    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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    Paper provided by The Field Experiments Website in its series Natural Field Experiments with number 00227.

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    Date of creation: 2007
    Date of revision:
    Handle: RePEc:feb:natura:00227
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    1. Oettinger, Gerald S, 1996. "Statistical Discrimination and the Early Career Evolution of the Black-White Wage Gap," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 14(1), pages 52-78, January.
    2. Becker, Gary S, 1985. "Human Capital, Effort, and the Sexual Division of Labor," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 3(1), pages S33-58, January.
    3. Joni Hersch & Leslie S. Stratton, 2000. "Household specialization and the male marriage wage premium," Industrial and Labor Relations Review, ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 54(1), pages 78-94, October.
    4. Devah Pager, 2003. "The mark of a criminal record," Natural Field Experiments 00319, The Field Experiments Website.
    5. Deborah J. Anderson & Melissa Binder & Kate Krause, 2003. "The motherhood wage penalty revisited: experience, heterogeneity, work effort, and work-schedule flexibility," Industrial and Labor Relations Review, ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 56(2), pages 273-294, January.
    6. Eng Seng Loh, 1996. "Productivity Differences and the Marriage Wage Premium for White Males," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 31(3), pages 566-589.
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