Women who work in the French private sector see their pay reduced by 3% every time they have a child, according to new research from Université Paris-Saclay.
Lionel Wilner, Director of Graduate Studies at engineering and statistics school ENSAE, founding member of Université Paris-Saclay, said that while mothers have a tangible reduction in their wages every time they have a child, the working fathers do not see any change in their earnings.
"Gender inequalities persist within households, in terms of the share of domestic work or bargaining power, but they also persist within firms," Wilner said in a statement.
"The gender pay gap, occupational gender segregation and the glass ceiling are the most striking examples – but an obvious example of gender inequality is related to childbirth. The motherhood penalty accounts for noticeable hourly wage differences following childbirth.
"This is both unfair and inefficient. It requires further public intervention, including campaigns against discrimination, development of on-the-job childcare, and extension of paternity leave. A paternity leave of the same duration as maternity leave would bring down this gender gap."
Wilner gathered data from organisations in the French private sector between 1995 and 2011 and stripped out the "effect of childbirth from other firm-specific wage determinants." For example, women taking maternity leave will lead to very different pay structures and amounts, depending on what company they work for.
So he looked at just the data that showed the wages of mothers who return to work after maternity leave is over and non-mothers in work.
He said he found that once a woman has a child, companies put mothers on a career path that would mean they are less likely to receive bonuses or be promoted.
For example, employers seem to allocate a role to a mother with less risky assignments, "so are less likely to receive bonuses or more likely to become trapped in low-wage trajectories."
However, "men do not experience any [earnings] loss after childbirth."
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