Motherhood is a time of joy, adventure and new responsibility, but is it also going to cost you a pay cut?There is often a link between becoming a parent as a woman and the sting of being paid less by employers. 

Now, you could argue that being paid substantially less isn’t actually due to having children, or that men equally take a cut when becoming dads, but the data doesn’t lie.

In the days when support was in place and communities truly worked together to raise the young, maybe it wouldn’t have been a noticeable issue – after all, women were not primarily in the workforce, nor did families rely on it.

However, in 2023, there is a growing need for both parents to take on full-time roles as the cost of living and rising childcare costs continue to mount each month.

Because of it, women are feeling the hit and it’s not a new thing. For instance, in 2019 working-aged women in the UK earned a whopping 40% less than their male counterparts.

Let’s break it down: The gender pay gap has always been an issue, with women earning almost half of what men do, whether this is due to a lower wage, or simply not being able to work the same level of hours due to caring responsibilities. 

The Financial Times recently reported that in Denmark, by 2013 about 80% of earnings inequality between men and women was brought on by children and not by the disparity between education levels.

If you are a mother, you’ll already know that returning to work as before often isn’t the same, as the caring responsibility and division of labour typically falls to the mother. 

If your child is ill, you very well may be the person to have to take a day off or if your childcare provider is only available term-time, guess who will be divvying up their accrued holidays to subsidise the care? 

What is even more worrying is that a working report found that women who do not have children yet are also less likely to be promoted than similar-aged men, which takes away the opportunity for a salary promotion. 

Mary Ann Bronson of Georgetown University, an author of this study, believes that there is discriminatory behaviour between employers who withhold opportunities from young women as they are worried about the possibility of maternity leave in the future.

Even with heterosexual relationship dynamics where the woman earns more, a report by the Institute for Fiscal Studies found that their employment decreased by 13% after their first child, and this figure lasted for a decade.

The availability to work also drops significantly as many women are only able to work when they have the support of consistent childcare.

How do we begin to fix this? First, the issue of the gender pay gap needs to be fixed with women being paid equally as men for working the same role.

Childcare will also need to be affordable and flexible to support working parents.

Societal pressures for mothers to stay at home should also be a thing of the past, as it’s unrealistic to believe that families can afford to live during these times on one income and that women do not have career hopes of their own.

What do you think would help? 

If you are hoping to bring more women into your actuary firm, come and speak to Orange Malone about your requirements.