Someone Has To Give Birth! Why Women Shouldn’t Be Penalized For Being A Mom

Swans And Their BabiesI was at a cocktail party the other night, and after several stiff vodka tonics, a female manager-level friend, “Julia”, began complaining about one of her staff.

She came up to me and said, “Sam, what am i going to do?  Nancy keeps getting pregnant!  She’s having her third child in the past 5 years, and now I’ve got to find cover for her again!” After Julia’s rant, she twirled her way to a slick looking fella at the bar and began chatting him up.

Initially I tried empathizing with Julia, given I do remember the feeling of having to cover for someone when they’re “sick“. But Nancy’s case is different.  After all, someone has to give birth, and after seeing one too many sex ed video’s from the 9th grade with images of globulous placentas seared in my mind, i’m glad it’s not me!  The Europeans would argue a 3 month maternity leave is not long enough given they practice a 6 month healing process.

Julia’s complaint brings us to the great debate:

Is it fair or even true that women are discriminated against and make less money than men on average?

“YES IT’S FAIR!”

Julia, the manager is a single woman, in her mid-40′s who absolutely believes hiring women is more expensive than hiring men. Interesting twist huh?  Her rationale is that men never have babies, and therefore never take 3 months off.  Women, on the other hand do, and yet Julia still must pay her 12 months worth of work.  Julia explains to me that if Nancy had one more kid (making it 4), she’d have a full year off and be paid a full year’s salary!  Julia also points out that she’s had two women resign on her after giving birth, causing her further stress.

Not only does Julia thinks it’s fair to pay women less, Julia believes Nancy’s absence is unfair to her colleagues who aren’t having babies, especially those who have to pick up the slack.  Julia may pay Nancy for 12 months worth of work, but she might think twice about giving her the normal year-end bonus.

Julia argues that maternity leave is an optional benefit, and not everybody has the option to take that benefit because 1) not everyone is a woman, and 2) not every woman has children.  Julia has worked for 15 years in the business and has never taken maternity leave.

“NO IT’S NOT FAIR!”

I, on the other hand am thinking, if a woman can carry a child in her womb for nine months while working, then go through a multi-hour labor ordeal, she should easily deserve 3 months off and be paid her full salary!  My sister once told me giving birth for males is like trying to shoot a bowling ball out of our butts. I cannot imagine.

Females didn’t choose to be the ones to give birth, someone else did.  Furthermore, if you asked all the men out there to switch places, the vast majority would say NO WAY.  I guarantee it.

If I was the main colleague responsible for picking up the slack, I would be  fine so long as I had a sit down with my manager explaining that I expect to be compensated appropriately, or that expectations of me should be altered given my dual roles.  This then goes back to Julia’s point.

Do we take from Nancy’s income to pay someone for covering?  If so, on paper, the incomes show inequality, but in reality some may argue compensation is flowing to where work is being conducted.

CONCLUSION 

The income inequality gap has closed tremendously.  But, i never really thought about the anti-equal pay argument from a woman until Julia stumbled up to me that fine night complaining.  It’s generally managers secretly complaining about women, and new mother’s complaining about the unfair perceptions complaining folks have! At the end of that one night of passion, someone has to give birth eventually. And since that someone is female, they should get as much slack as possible.

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Keiju,

Financial Samurai – “Slicing Through Money’s Mysteries”

Sam started Financial Samurai in 2009 during the depths of the financial crisis as a way to make sense of chaos. After 13 years working on Wall Street, Sam decided to retire in 2012 to utilize everything he learned in business school to focus on online entrepreneurship.

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Comments

  1. says

    I believe any form of generalization is quite dangerous. Many statistics show, that women clearly earn less than men, others however proclaim that there is no income gap, depending on the method of measuring income; some say, women earn less generally because of their chance of giving birth (like the above example), and therefore women are less productive in their lives; other believe, that women earn less because their ability to rationally negotiate salaries (and other things, such as promotions) is not as distinct as with men.

    The good news, however, is that in more and more countries it is becoming accepted, that parents split their maternity/paternity leave equally. A brilliant example is Sweden, where it has already been fully implemented. The only big hurdle that still exists for men in most countries, is the pressure of society. In my opinion, a true solution can only be achieved in a way in which the pressure of society on men needs to diminish, resulting in an increased willingness of men to work part-time, take parental leave, and generally share his obligations with that of his wife in order to achieve a 50-50 situation.
    .-= Aleks´s last blog ..Growth Update #2 – Creating Additional Income, and Other Financial Goals for 2010 =-.

  2. Gordie Rogers says

    Okay, we’re talking about business people. People who do business are highly interested in money. The more money, the better. It’s in their nature to look for ways to save money. Whether, it’s right or wrong, I don’t know, but it’s in their nature.

    I can see both sides points of view and at this stage find it difficult to say. All I can say is that I’m glad I’m not a woman or a manager. Lol!
    .-= Gordie Rogers´s last blog ..Why Deadlines Are For Deadbeats. =-.

  3. says

    I can see both sides, too.
    But breaking the mindset that you need to be in a chair in a office to earn money is the real problem.
    Another problem is how you derive your income.
    If you rely on a corporation or organization for a wage, you shouldn’t be surprised when they create rules and regulations that often aren’t fair, or that make sense. That’s what bureaucracies do best.
    .-= Matt S.´s last blog ..Rich Dad-Wrong Dad: The Case For and Against 401 (k) Plans =-.

  4. says

    Hmm…Interesting that the statement came from a woman manager. I wouldn’t expect that except from young stuck up bitch. My wife is preggers with our third child and understand the issues. I’m so glad I’m a man!
    .-= Investor Junkie´s last blog ..Why Buying a Timeshare is a Bad Idea =-.

  5. Geek says

    It sounds like Julia is not good at planning. She should have a good 6 months or more to plan for her employee’s absence.
    I think men and women both should be legally required to take 6 months off per, and should be paid during that time. The first year is pretty important. If time off is legally required, it won’t be such a “hardship” down the road for employers who are on the verge of illegal discrimination today.

    -a geek who is childfree and planning to stay that way

  6. says

    I can totally relate…3 of my friends at work are having a baby about 4 months apart.

    I was lucky enough to be asked to cover the extra work for my friend who recently gave birth. I really don’t mind…and I definitely am not taking it against her. When I think about it, it is even more beneficial for me, because I get to have more opportunities to show what I can do at work.

    I don’t know if it’s the stress at work or perhaps my friends are just plain lucky that they get to be blessed with children in the same year.

    In my opinion, managing the “extra” work still comes down to proper resource planning…and 9 months is more than enough time to prepare someone to take over the work once the other employee gives birth. :)
    .-= Rich Money Habits´s last blog ..7 Ways to Celebrate Christmas Without Breaking Your Piggy Bank =-.

  7. says

    Wow….interesting subject. I think where you come down on it is going to depend on how you generally look at business (employee vs. employer).

    @Geek
    Umm….you can’t possibly believe what you wrote
    “I think men and women both should be legally required to take 6 months off per, and should be paid during that time. ”

    Who should pay it? The boss who now doesn’t have the services of that employee? The gov’t? Health Insurance?

    “It sounds like Julia is not good at planning. She should have a good 6 months or more to plan for her employee’s absence.”

    Maybe Nancy isn’t good at planning, i.e. closing her legs if she likes her job?
    .-= Evan´s last blog ..There are Many Ways to Commit Tax Fraud =-.

  8. says

    I’m not anywhere near this situation in my life but doesn’t seem the actual birth is the costs, obviously clearly the hospital and doctor fees. Same as any other hospital visit.

  9. says

    I know it’s a stupid TV show, but right now on Desperate Housewives, Carlos basically fired Lynette? because she got pregnant. What is especially frustrating to watch (pretend it’s real life for a minute) is how even Carlos’s wife (who’s a mom!) totally sold out Lynette and hates her for hiding her pregnancy until she’s found out and forced to leave. As ridiculous as the show is, this actually scenario plays out all the time in corporate America.

    There’s got to be some balance. On one hand, I hear women who say, “All women should get paid maternity leave for 6 months”. Well, I don’t see why a business (let’s say it’s your dad’s small business) should have to pay for that, possibly 4 or more times during her tenure. This would truly result in business starting to avoid hiring young females, etc. and would probably have the opposite of the intended effect in the end. It would probably be worse for women overall. On the other hand, if a woman is pregnant and takes some time off and comes back to work, it’s ridiculous that (especially larger) companies can’t easily accomodate that. Heck, plenty of notice, it’s so commonplace in today’s society, what makes it so difficult for you to cope? Lack of sophisticated business structure and planning.

    Here’s the reality. Guys are lazy. Moms do all the work. They go back to work, still retain all their activities w kids, home, errands, etc. while the Dads watch football and go drinking with their buddies. While they’re at work, in order to combat the presumption that they’re leaching from the system, they’re much more efficient and have to work that much harder to get everything done in a day that they need to. I’m generalizing, but most of you reading this know it’s true.

    Disclosure: Male w 3 kids. My wife stayed home with the kids and never took maternity leave so I have no ax to grind – just sayin’. However, I would never want to see my wife being “punished” for bearing children.

    And to all the haters out there who are too cool too irresponsible or too self-absorbed or whatever to ever have children – don’t forget, someone had you. So stop judging others for having kids, whether it’s 1 or 5. You were one of those “inconveniences” once as well.
    .-= Darwin’s Finance´s last blog ..Highest Saving Account Rates OnLine =-.

  10. says

    To answer the first question I think it’s dangerous to generalize all women on average make less than men, because all female workers combined probably do make less because more women may opt for lower paying jobs or part time jobs so they can focus on their families. However, where I work there are a lot of high-paid females (we have a female CEO and senior VP) and as far as I know the company compensates men and women equally. If a company isn’t in this day and age they should have a civil suit brought against them.

    As for the second question, I’m all for paternity leave! We’re a single income family and I have 4 kids, and I’ve had to take a lot of personal leave after the kids were born. I would have certainly appreciated having paternity leave each time. People tend to forget babies have 2 parents, and I think dads are a lot more involved in child rearing than in previous generations (at least I am)

    Great post!
    .-= MBAbriefs´s last blog ..Develop your own marketing plan – part 2 =-.

  11. Sandy L says

    FMLA (family medical leave act) is not just for women. Men can also use it to care for a sick relative. Also FMLA does not mandate paid leave, just time off. Paid leave is a benefit offered to employees by certain corporations. If a company wants to recruit the best and the brightest, they will have decent benefits to lure you in and keep you there. (health insurance, paid leave, 401K match, pension, life insurance, tuition reimbursement, etc).

    Not everyone uses all their benefits. Sally in the next cube may have used paid maternity leave to have kids but maybe she doesn’t take advantage of her 401K match…or uses her spouse’s health insurance plan. Life events vary by individuals and that’s why there are a variety of benefits to choose from.

    What if Julia got her MBA on nights and weekends and the company reimbursed her $40K tuition. Should others feel resentful that she utlized a company benefit that not everyone chooses to takes advantage of?

    Should Julia be mad at the guy who drops dead and collects his company’s life insurance policy?

    Why are these utilization of benefits seen differently than maternity leave? At first, I could see Julia’s point, but now as I write it on paper it just sounds ridiculous.

  12. says

    The parent in me says that I should be allowed to take some time off for the birth of a child, if I choose. My job position should be protected, but not indefinitly. I work for my company, my company does not exist for me! 3 months is plenty to get through those first scary months and feel confident in the health of a newborn.

    If a company would like to provide more, that is a competitive advantage they will offer over others and thereby attract better talent that will be more loyal.

    The business side of me says that if a person wants to take time off, that is their choice. I hope they have saved for it! There is no reason any company or society should have to pay for a parent to take an extended leave.

    When we had our first child, I had 6 days of unpaid sick leave and two weeks of vacation to do with what I please. Every minute was dedicated to taking care of my wife and newborn. It was the best vacation I have ever had.
    .-= LeanLifeCoach´s last blog ..IDA’s are a great IDEA =-.

  13. says

    @Sandy L Amazingly, you and Geek are the only two women to comment. Where did all the women go in the community I wonder? Do women not care about this issue as much as I thought? Hmmm.

    You really do bring up some great examples of the “optional benefit” and why others shouldn’t show spite for those who choose to take advantage of that option. It actually feels like women who choose not to have children seem more resentful than men for those women who have children.

    @Geek I didn’t really think about the 6 months worth of contingency planning both the pregnant woman and manager can do. Good point!

  14. says

    I think that women should be paid the same as a bloke. On the other hand I feel that the company she works for should not have to foot the bill for her time off.

    I’m a bloke and when we had our kids it was our decision that I would work harder so that she could look after the kids. We planned for them and made sure before we started that we were able to live on just one wage.

    I reckon that companies have enough on their plate, and if you keep forcing more expenses on them, they will either go broke or move overseas where there are no such constraints.
    .-= Sire´s last blog ..Will Commenting Harm Your Blogging Success? =-.

  15. jj says

    I think women are unjustly punished when women have kids and don’t return from maternity leave. Many bosses just assume that all women don’t want to work or slack off after having kids. It’s very unfair.

    I know many hard-working women with kids. I know many childless people (men and women) who slack off due to hang-overs, relationship dramas, frequent illness and a host of other reasons. Sure, maybe a working mom also gets sick a lot and has relationship dramas but that’s obviously not always the case. Let’s say you have 4 employees (working mom, single girl, single guy and a married guy) — Working mom takes more time off for kids, Single Guy goes on smoking breaks every hour and is prone to illness, Single Girl is using work hours to plan her wedding, Married guy is going through a divorce. The bottom line: It probably balances out in the end because people with children will make up for the lost time.

  16. Sandy L says

    Your post really struck a cord. Not sure why more women didn’t respond. Perhaps just more guys read PF blogs. By the way, I do have 2 kids, but worked for over 10 years (long hours) at the same company before having them, and I continue to work full time.

  17. says

    The problem with these gender pay comparisons is that they are based on gross pay, when they should be comparing the RATE of pay – now THAT would give a truly direct comparison. Otherwise, you are just creating differences where they may not exist.

    Gross pay is impacted by stuff such as total number of hours worked (e.g., total overtime) and whether the person is full- or part-time status that unfairly skews the data.

    Then again, this debate will never go away because the political left depends on these deceptive comparisons to push their agenda.

    Best,

    Len
    Len Penzo dot Com
    .-= Len Penzo´s last blog ..Drive-By Movie Review: Four Christmases =-.

  18. says

    @Sandy L Don’t know how you do it, working full-time with too kids. I think I may have to quit and focus on one full-time. Hope the hubby helps out. If not, we’ll whip him into shape!

  19. says

    @MBAbriefs I think if men can have at least a 1 month, or better yet 2 month optional, and paid paternity leave, that would do a lot to quel some folks frustration.

    @jj Maybe you’re right, and everything evens out in the end. But, are you saying we are really a nation of unproductive slackers? Compared to the rest of the world, I hear we are some of the most productive workers in the world!

    @LeanLifeCoach I wouldn’t have a vacation any other way either!

    @Evan Donno if I agree with your last line Evan. Nancy is NOT the victim here, which is the point of my post. Julia’s attitude towards Nancy is.

    @Darwin’s Finance The wife and I have been following the latest Desperate Housewives show too. It’s a pretty ridiculous scenario you got to admit. And you know they will make up and be friends again.

    It is a fine line if this topic gets out of hand. If there’s that much push towards employers paying for this and that, it could ultimately back fire and hurt the hiring of women, would be no good.

    @Rich Money Habits You’re right about the resource planning. You’d think an employee and employer can figure it out with 6 months forewarning. But, maybe it’s easier said than done and someone always get the short end of the stick?

    @Len Penzo You’re right. Making blanket gross pay comparisons is dangerous. IF we can break it down by hours worked, then the #’s will most definitely be more equal, I agree.

    What’s the political left’s political agenda btw? Seriously, I’m not clear. Thnx Len.

    @Aleks Bingo regarding the pressure on men to be breadwinners and succeed! In fact. I already have a post lined up on this topic. Stay tuned!

    Best, Sam
    .-= admin´s last blog ..Why The World Forgives Rich And Famous People For Cheating =-.

  20. says

    Women don’t get enough time off! Though FMLA offers 12 weeks you have to be aware this isn’t all paid leave. And at a certain point they lose their health benefits (basically they have to cover the full cost). I do see a manager’s dilemma when a woman needs to take off a significant amount of time, but what are we to do? Are salaries such that one spouse can cover for the family these days? It’s possible (we do it) but it means a tight budget! Other countries offer much more time at full salary. We have to think long term here and take care of our mom’s and kids. BTW, I’m a guy and used FMLA to take care of our toddler and newborn.

  21. says

    @FFB Hey there FFB a pleasure to hear from you. I’m impressed you can live off one income in NYC with multiple kids. It’s quite an accomplishment, especially given the prohibitive tax rates there.

    Both you and Sandy have highlighted FMLA, which I wasn’t familiar with. Thanks for highlighting, as I’ll do some research now!
    .-= admin´s last blog ..The Public Loves Wall Street Again! =-.

  22. says

    I’m too young to really have anything to add here… but mostly I don’t have anything to add because Sandy covered just about everything I was thinking. If Julia’s company offers paid maternity leave, that’s just something she has to deal with. Some women are going to take advantage of it due to choice or circumstance, and some are not… just like all other benefits. As a woman who might someday be evaluating whether or not a job offers paid maternity leave, I support it on a personal level, meaning it’s a factor that I would weigh when comparing job offers. But if you don’t plan to have kids or it doesn’t apply to you… well, you really can’t fault other people for using it when it does apply to them. Sheesh!

    (That “sheesh” is very obviously directed at Julia.)
    .-= Stephanie PTY´s last blog ..Nope, We Don’t Have Cable =-.

  23. says

    @Stephanie PTY
    Hey Steph! Thanks for your insights. It was getting lonely not having any women provide perspective. Sandy’s thoughts are most welcome indeed.

    I’m just wondering if your perspective will change if you are the woman’s manager, and your employee kept going on maternity leave for 3 months a year. It may or may not cause undue stress, no matter how much planning. Whatever the case may be, it’s something to think about!
    .-= admin´s last blog ..The Public Loves Wall Street Again! =-.

  24. says

    Sam,

    The agenda is to pander to the National Organization of (Liberal) Women, of course, a group that still clamors for an equal rights amendment to the US Constitution on the premise that “Equality in pay… will remain an elusive dream without a guarantee of equality in the U.S. Constitution.” (That’s from their own website.) It is not in NOW’s best interest if the data show that men and woman ARE getting equal pay for equal work.

    Best,

    Len
    .-= Len Penzo´s last blog ..Black Coffee: My Favorite Blogs, Money News & Opinions #25 =-.

  25. says

    @Len Penzo
    AHHHHHHHH so kah. Got it! NOW, yes, they are quite a powerful group. Can’t fault them for fighting for their cause though. If my wife can make BIG BUCKS, I’m all for it, b/c then I can retire earlier!

    Funny example of pay discrimination against men is in TENNIS. Men have to play best out of 5 sets in grand slams, while women play best out of 3 sets and earn equal pay. The men’s matches frequently go 3-4 hours long compared to 1-2 for women. Interesting huh?
    .-= admin´s last blog ..Tuition Hike For The Poor Is Like A Tax Hike For The Rich =-.

  26. Dale says

    It doesn’t matter what a woman deserves for having babies, what matters is who pays for it. Why should a particular employer be penalized for hiring a particular woman? The employer gets no benefit from those babies, instead she gets an employee who doesn’t work as much for her pay as other employees. How is that fair? Meanwhile her competitor who is lucky enough to have no pregnant employees gets a full year’s work from everyone.

    In a large corporation it pretty much evens out, but for small companies, the only way to make it fair would be to have all competitors share in the costs of maternity leave.

  27. Charlie says

    Great post! I must say anytime someone has to be out of the office it can create stress, and the longer the duration, the tougher it is. I overheard a senior manager in my office venting to a colleague about how spread thin he was recently – he had a woman out on maternity leave and a guy out on paternity leave both at the same time. What can you do when the timing overlaps like that? Not much but pray no one calls in sick! The guy’s actually been out for close to a month so far which is pretty unusual. Most guys I know have taken a week or two tops and then gone back to work. What they’ve said is there’s really not too much they can do the first months anyway, at least when the mom is nursing.
    But I don’t have kids of my own, so I can’t really say. All I can imagine is that having an infant and trying to work at the same time sounds like no easy task. Props to all the working parents out there! Esp. couples that are both working and single working parents.

  28. says

    It is the very nature of business that spawns this inequality. The less productive the person is, the less is her output, and the less the incoming profit. This is a fact we must chose to understand. :-)

  29. BloodLustDaddy says

    1st: The employer is not paying you to have a child, they are paying you to do a job. If you choose to have a child why should the employer be penalized? If you are unable to do your job due to having a child why should the employer be forced to cover you and also find someone to do your job for you?

    2nd: You can only be the best at one thing, if you choose to have a child then it can be assumed that you will no longer focus on being the best at your career path. As a parent your primary responsibility SHOULD now be your child, as such you will be less able to put in late hours and focus on your career path.

    3rd: In the end, if you choose to have a child you should not focus on your career, you should focus on your family and child. If you decide to have a child the best thing to do is plan it and take responsibility for your choice. A child should be raised by their parents, not by daycare providers.

    It really upsets me to hear that so many females want to be CEO’s of huge companies as well as full time parents, in the end you should choose a path and stick with it. If your a parent be a parent, if your a career minded person then focus on your career.

    In the end a parents only responsibility should be to their child and family, if your not giving your child 100% then you are doing your child a huge disservice.

    –BloodLustDaddy

    • Jules says

      @BloodLustDaddy So, if a man is a dad, then he should focus on being a father, and not on his career? The thing to remember is men are parents too. Babies need fathers just as much as mothers. Perhaps there’s some truth to the idea that parents don’t make the best workers, since they have to expend energy on parenting, but does that really mean they need to give up on their dreams or their careers? Who would choose to be a parent if that was ALL they could do 24/7?

  30. says

    The book Naked Economics had a section on maternity leave. The author suggests that women who take a job, get pregnant shortly afterward, take maternity leave, then quit at the end of maternity leave are the ones who make employers wary of hiring more women (unfair or illegal as that might be). He suggests the way to combat that problem would be to give generous maternity leave, but require a certain period of service either before or after the pregnancy period (i.e. if you work for 2 years you have 6 months paid leave. If you don’t return to work after the 6 months you have to repay X% of the maternity leave, etc.).

    I’m not sure if that would be legal, but it does sound like an interesting solution that might benefit both sides.

    Also, there’s a study from UK that your readers might find interesting on maternity leave & women’s careers: http://www.wellheeledblog.com/2009/12/03/maternity-leave-career/
    .-= WellHeeled´s last blog ..Family of 5 Lives On Under $1,000 A Month =-.

  31. says

    Here’s the link to the US Office of Personnel Management (OPM) page on the Family Medical Leave Act: http://www.opm.gov/oca/leave/html/fmlafac2.asp. Basically it allows you 12 weeks unpaid leave in a 12 month period and lets you use either annual or sick leave. I had to use it quite a bit when I was a government employee to help take care of my kids.

    I know it’s easier said than done but businesses have to be flexible these days when it comes to employee absences. They had the same problem when guardsmen and reservists were called to active duty for up to 12 months at a time. My previous employer took it in stride when I got activated after 9/11 and my boss and co-workers pitched in to make sure my projects kept going. I got called up several times after that when I was running a small federally funded program and we redistributed the workload and I also hired temporary workers.
    .-= MBAbriefs´s last blog ..Develop your own marketing plan – part 2 =-.

  32. says

    It’s a dicey situation for any manager. All else being equal, you know the manager will think twice about hiring a newly wed woman in her late 20′s, early 30′s, even if it’s just for a nanosecond.

    Business is war, seriously. If you don’t have the most dedicated and passionate troops, you will fail. Some small business simply cannot do without a 12 month work force. It depends on the woman too. A lot of women come back only after 2 weeks.

    The Genius
    .-= The Genius´s last blog ..City and College announce working group on town-gown relations =-.

  33. Sandy L says

    Dale,

    Corporations do benefit from female employees. I’ll give you 3 examples:

    1. Those who bid for government jobs have to show statistics around diversity to qualify for jobs. I don’t know the exact details, but I know it’s a requirement of the bid process.

    2. I have a friend in India who owns a corporation and likes hiring females. He says that because women don’t have as many opportunities in India, he gets more talented candidates to pick from the female population….Harvard educated, very bright, and extremely loyal.

    3. Health care. Many women are more comfortable using female gynecologists, doctors, pediatricians, home health aids. They believe that a female health care worker understands another female better. To give you a guy example, if you want a vasectomy, would you prefer another man to do it or a woman?

    These are just the first ones that came to mind. I’m sure there are others.

  34. says

    @Dale
    An employer gains no benefit from the woman’s baby, but the employer does gain benefit from the woman. Since the woman loves her baby more than anything else, a generous employer would therefore do well to provide generous support for both, no?

    @Charlie
    Props to all working mothers out there too! Unless we walk in their shoes, we have no idea how difficult it really is.

    @MBAbriefs
    Your employer would look like a A$$hole if they complained about you getting called into active duty. In fact, i’m sure they couldn’t be MORE proud of your service! Thanks for the link.

    @BloodLustDaddy
    Do you really think a woman can’t be both, a good mother and a good employee? There might be more guilt, but I think it’s quite possible. If my wife was making gobs more money than me, then it would be a business decision for us that I work less and take care of the kids more.

    I’m so proud of my single mother friend who is both working and raising a wonderful kid. She gets the support from her friends and family and provides for the both of them with no child support. It’s not that black or white.

    @WellHeeled
    Thanks for the link and the suggestion from the book. Sounds like a GOOD idea to me! Employers require service if they pay for our graduate school education here in America all the time. If we leave beforehand, we pay them back the tuition.

    Here’s welcoming you from the UK!

  35. says

    As with anything, it’s better to look at the issue on a case by case basis rather than generalizing. Some women will never take extended medical leave for giving birth (and being close to a child in the first few months — a biological need) because they choose not to have children. There are also single dads, who, while they don’t give birth, will need to take time off.

    Working mostly with women in my office, it’s not just an issue of maternity leave. Those with children take time away from the office to meet with teachers, prepare for the kids’ school vacations, deal with child care over the summer, go to the doctor, etc., etc. As these activities are mostly handled by the woman in a man-woman relationship, more time away from the office generally means less pay and opportunity. I think many women understand this and are willing to make the sacrifice, so it’s understandable that overall, women earn less than men. Like I said, you need to look at each situation on its own to determine whether their is fairness of opportunity.
    .-= Flexo´s last blog ..Weekend Reading: Negotiations, Cooking, and Happiness =-.

  36. says

    @Flexo
    Howdy Flexo, thanks for stopping by. I agree about generalization vs. specific cases. The problem is the media, and big agenda organizations like to make sweeping commentary to prove their point without doing the leg work.

    I would love someone from the National Organization of Women (NOW) to chime in here. Anybody know any hardcore NOW members they can forward this article too? :)

    I’m not so sure “many women understand” that it’s ok to pay women less. Otherwise, there wouldn’t be such a big uproar and movement. Julia, from the article certainly doesn’t
    understand this!

    Best, Sam
    .-= admin´s last blog ..Tuition Hike For The Poor Is Like A Tax Hike For The Rich =-.

  37. says

    BawldGuy :

    Do I, as an employer have any rights? Or am I merely the Golden Goose/ATM machine? Women get to choose but I have no choice? Welcome to 1984.
    BawldGuy´s last blog ..Munching On the Numbers – Thursday

    Yikes! I’m surprised nobody has debated you yet. Maybe cuz there are too many comments to go through, and only I am the most diligent of comment readers since it’s my site.

    I take it you don’t have any or many women at your company!
    .-= admin´s last blog ..Tuition Hike For The Poor Is Like A Tax Hike For The Rich =-.

  38. says

    The general problem with women is that they are OVERLY sensitive, complain, and often cry at work. Sure, this is a general problem but i’m sure many will agree.

    Look at women’s sports. Most women want to have a male coach instead of a female coach? Why? B/c women in power have a lot of issues and emotions that appear in a professional working environment, which is a big no no.

    Think about it. Would you hire a woman over a man, all things being equal?
    .-= The Genius´s last blog ..City and College announce working group on town-gown relations =-.

  39. neal@wealthpilgrim says

    I have three daughters..and I hope there is lots of discrimination…

    Why?

    Because I want my daughters to open their own business and not have to worry about it.

    If there is enough discrimination, maybe they’ll get sick of working for “the man”.
    .-= neal@wealthpilgrim´s last blog ..How You Can Create A Modern Miracle Today =-.

  40. Lovingkind says

    It’s difficult to generalize anything or everything. I do like what BloodLustDaddy and Flexo said. Women’s talents are no less than men’s. But most of the women can either choose to devote their time to their children entirely when they are growing up, or choose to develope a career and not having children or having children later. They should be willing to take the sacrifice for getting less pay.

    In human’s history, women seem to bear more responsibilities when it comes to raising children. When this sacred job is accomplished, women tend to develope some interests that are quite different from their male counterparts. They don’t stay in front of the computer as much as their male counterparts. Do you think this may be why you see less female commenting on this subject?

  41. Julie says

    @Lovingkind
    I have a feeling that women in general care less about personal finance than men. If you look at a lot of the women’s blogs, it’s generally “personal finance + SHOPPING + food” or something like that.

    Women spend an enormous amount of time talking about what they are going to wear, the next hand bag, creative food creation, or whatever. I also think a lot of women are INSECURE in the personal finance arena, and don’t have strong enough of a voice to share their feelings with confidence.

    As a result of this lack of focus from female bloggers, they don’t say things with conviction, and they don’t stand up for themselves. You wonder why females in the work place get run over. It’s not just the males that are running them over, it’s now the females like Julia who are running us over.

    Male Personal Finance writers compared to Female personal finance writers are SO DIFFERENT it’s like two different languages. One is not better than the other, but I have to admit, if I want to read about personal finance, my nod goes towards this site and other male writers.

    Thanks for sharing this post!

    Julie

  42. Karen L. says

    I came over here from Well-Heeled’s blog and stumbled onto this post. This is quite relevant for me as I am 34 weeks pregnant with my first kid and am about to embark on maternity leave in January. I work for a mid-size law firm, which offers paid maternity leave to employees that have been with the firm for at least 2 years. Although I’ve worked with the same law partner since I started working in my legal field almost 4 years ago, we only joined this mid-size firm a little over a year ago, so I don’t qualify for the paid leave benefit from my employer (100% of pay for 8 weeks). However, we have enough saved up so that I can take 6 months of maternity leave. Also, even though I don’t qualify for my firm’s paid maternity leave benefit, I am still eligible for my state’s (California) disability insurance and FMLA benefits, which will pay a certain weekly amount (based upon my base quarterly salary) for up to 12 weeks starting from the date of my leave. This state benefit is paid for out of my own taxes. My husband is also taking 6 weeks of leave from his workplace to help care for me and our baby, and this too, will only be subsidized by the state rather than his workplace. Of course, we will both be using up our sick and vacation days before we officially go on unpaid leave from our respective workplaces.

    I don’t think that women should be penalized for going on leave, because during their childless employment phase, they probably covered for others who took time off to attend to personal matters. In my group, the male partner with whom I work has 6 kids, while my female and male colleagues have two and five kids, respectively. In the past 4 years that I worked with my partner and colleagues, I have definitely covered for them numerous times when they were home with sick kids or attending parental functions. I would have done the same for co-workers who need to take time off to care for sick spouses, parents, siblings or pets. The way I see it is that my past efforts to cover for work colleagues will pay it forward for myself if I need time to attend to personal matters. In my opinion, taking time off either for personal well-being or to take care of someone else will always come up, and no one (not even a manager) is immune to it. In addition, as Sandy L. pointed out, there are optional (non-maternity related) benefits that non-parents are able to take advantage of that parents might not, so my guess is that it all balances out in terms of maternity-related benefits vs. non-maternity-related benefits.

    I think it’s best to provide some sort of paid leave benefit, and if an employer doesn’t provide it, the state or government should provide it. If this means levying a tax to provide this benefit, then so be it. I paid my taxes in all the time I’ve worked, and the disability and FMLA paid benefit is the minimum that I deserve for having paid into the system. Sure, some people will game to system, but from what I’ve seen, most people have worked hard to earn the benefit to take paid time off.

  43. says

    @Karen L.
    Karen, great comments! Thanks for sharing your thoughts. You make a good point about things evening out, since so many people have children, as well as get sick. What goes around comes around as they say.

    Good luck with your first baby and hope to hear more of your thoughts in the future!

  44. says

    BawldGuy :
    Do I, as an employer have any rights? Or am I merely the Golden Goose/ATM machine? Women get to choose but I have no choice? Welcome to 1984.
    BawldGuy´s last blog ..Munching On the Numbers – Thursday

    Of course you have rights. However, you, like every business owner, will have to deal with laws of the country in which you work, the rules of the contracts you sign, and competition for employees and customers. If you choose to not provide any benefits for women who give birth, your company will be that much less competitive for workers, not only women, but men who want to work for a company that provides such benefits. You might also find your potential customers taking advantage of their rights to choose another company with whom to do business. If you offer maternity (or paternity, for matter) benefits to your employees and then try to withhold them or drop your employees for using them, you may find yourself facing your employee in court or getting a lot of unwanted publicity as result. If you try to avoid hiring women to avoid having to deal with potential pregnancies, you could find the government coming after you for discrimination, or facing angry hoards of protesters trying to change your policy (and did I mention having a tougher time finding employees?) If you can find ways to stay competitive while offering your employees the lowest level of maternity/paternity benefits required by law, good for you, but don’t be surprised if there’s some blow back.

    Alright, onto FS’s questions. I think there’s a number of factors that come into play when looking at studies showing lower pay for women, some of which have already been covered. Women, if I may generalize a bit, do tend to spend more time away from work for family, opt for more benefits in exchange for lower pay, and choose lower paying careers. As to how we can close that gap, I don’t really know of a good way other than forcing employers to make up the difference (which seems more intrusive than I’d prefer).

    There might be some managers who discount a woman’s salary for fear of potential childbearing, either due to their personal feelings or perhaps institutional policy (although the latter would seem to raise all kinds of potential legal qualms). But I think it’s more likely simply that time away from work leads to fewer raises and opportunities for promotion, causing a gap between male and female salaries later in working life. Extending paternity leave might help to level the playing field, but it’s far from a magic bullet; you’d have to force men to take as much time off to help raise children as women do in order to make everything work out.
    .-= Roger´s last blog ..Weekly Thoughts: Don’t Trust Petitions =-.

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