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

Swans And Their Babies

Women shouldn't be penalized for being a mom. After all, if you want kids, someone has to give birth! This post discusses the unfair double standard some women face in their careers if they take time off to have children.

I originally wrote this post on December 11, 2009 when I was 32 years old and still working in finance. I had gotten married one year earlier and just started thinking about having kids. However, due to the high cost of living in San Francisco, a busy work schedule, and this potential penalty my wife may have faced if we had a baby, we delayed having kids.

Now that I reflect more as a father of two young kids in 2020, not having kids sooner is one of my regrets. If I could rewind time, I would have tried to have my first kid at 34 (2012) and then at 36 (2015).

If you're considering having kids, know that there isn't a perfect time. That said, since you will love your kids more than anything else in this world, having them sooner enables them to be a part of your life for a longer period of time.

The following is a story about kids and the workplace you might not expect.

Why Women Should Be Penalized For Being A Mom

I 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 6-12-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!” (To Pay Mothers Less)

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!” (To Discriminate Against Mothers)

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.

Women Shouldn't Be Penalized For Having Kids

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. Women shouldn't be penalized for having kids. Come on folks!

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Updated for the new decade and beyond.

69 thoughts on “Someone Has To Give Birth! Why Women Shouldn’t Be Penalized For Being A Mom”

  1. Dear Cow Brain:

    Stop “thinking” through your vagina. Whenever women are allowed where they do not belong, they make a mess of things by exercising female functions where they do not belong.(The military and the job market, for example.) Instead of mooing that the world should be reorganized to please your cunt hole, get back to the kitchen and bedroom, supported by your husband’s “family wage” paycheck. Then you can make babies, change diapers and do the rest of your functions without screwing up other peoples operations.

    And one other thing. Both equal pay and maternity leave are basic Communism. Look it up in article 122 of Joseph Stalin’s Soviet Constitution of 1936.

  2. Article 122 of the Sovier Union’s Constitution of 1936 guarantees women maternity leave. Joseph Stalin, the world’s biggest mass murderer, originated the concept of maternity leave. Sleep is a human right but the fact that I have the right to sleep does not mean I have the right to do so on the company’s time.

    Women forget that in the year 1969 they swore that they would never make babies on the company’s time because motherhood was obsolete in an overcrowded world. Women lied. Maternity leave is not equal pay for equal work; it is equal pay for no work while making babies on the company’s time.

    Women basically think that their baby box is the center of the universe and therefore above the normal rules of logic. I think that it is fine for women to have babies but it is not a job function. The proper solution is to hire men only, pay the man enough to support his wife and kids and put women back in the kitchen where they belong.

    Economic equality for women is Communism. It was the Soviet Communists who drove women out of the home into the factories. Betty Friedan, who started feminism in 1963, was a closet Communist. Americans, who like to imgine that they are the most anti-Communist people on earth, have unwittingly followed the Communist model.

    1. Do explain why you think women belong in the kitchen. Go on. Do you actually have a logical well though out reason? Oh, and tradition is discounted because slavery is a tradition as well, and everyone knows that’s not okay. And being physically weaker means nothing, because in 90% of jobs on the market physical strength means nothing. Using averages like men have higher IQ’s doesn’t matter because averages are from a whole spectrum, so it’s very likely that a women you’ll meet on the street is smarter than the man 5 feet away from her. So go on, do you have an actual reason for your sexism? Or are you just spewing hate for no reason?

  3. 3 months off? Did the author just include women who can afford nannies and/or daycare? Most women cannot afford either, so they remain housewives for a decade or so. Why not let the man take a decade off from work? Oh, that’s right: Women still want men to be the breadwinners.

    Stop acting like victims. Tell your husband that you refuse to be a stay-at-home mother, and either he must stay home with the children. But that means giving-up the luxury of being a stay-at-home mother. I know stay-at-home father’s who love it. They can take care of the children and still sneak in a few naps and playtime with their mates. I would rather do that then work 80 hours a week on the road.

  4. Maternity leave is nonsense. Every woman has a right to make a baby on her own time; she has no right to make a baby on the company’s time. Get pregnant; get fired.

    1. What is the point of society then? To run around like ants making other people rich? We have a responsibility to bring the next generation up in a good way. The first few months are very important to get right and not have people worrying about returning to work in a few weeks.

      In Canada it’s 12 months of mat leave supported part by companies and part by government employment insurance program. I can see first hand the good this does for society. And I’m very conservative-leaning.

      1. Greg:

        If you are really the “conservative” you pretend to be you would not be taking a purely Communist position. All this nonsense about maternity leave on the employers time is basic Communism from the 1920’s and 1930’s. That is, provably, where it originated. This nonsense that women and babies are the center of the universe and that, therefore, what is good for women and children is good for everybody is just “Moo Heil!” breeding cow Nazism nonsense. It may be true in a general sense but it is in no way true in any specific sense.

        Let’s take the military in time of war. Women are getting pregnant just as fast as they can to avoid death and dismemberment at the front. is that good for victory on the battlefield? Is it good for the male soldiers dying in stead of the females shirking their duty? Hell no! Neither is it good for employers trying to run a business or non-pregnant workers doing two jobs for the price of one. The old system of paying a man enough money to support a family and keeping two legged cows in the kitchen where they belong solved all these problems.

        The problem here is that women want it both ways and politicians are licking the vagina of 54% of the voters. You are one of the 46% but I see that you want your freebies too. Socialism for everyone – and let the lesser, non-reproducing male workers pick up the slack.

  5. Some countries in Europe, including where I live, have not just 6, but 12 months of maternity/paternity leave. Maybe since we don’t have so much immigration problems as United States, there is a perspective that children are NEEDED (because of everything “B” already wrote) and that the whole society IS responsible to provide support for working parents. Such support can come from the government, not necessarily just employers.

    Not unreasonable support that irresponsible people might abuse (and some people will find a way to abuse just about anything), but healthy support from people who take an easier road in life to people who carry double burden. Most of posters here don’t seem to understand just how demanding and exhausting it is to raise kids.

    This discussion focuses mostly on economical aspects, but what about human aspect? The society is responsible to create laws that are for the overall benefit and health of society. There can be no healthy and happy society if women are forced to choose between children and career, or discriminated. It’s not all about money. There can be no happiness and health wherever the focus is on money only.

    I’m surprised at Honey’s comment… sounds like “only wealthy people should be allowed to have kids!” Not many people can be wealthy, there is a limited number of really well-paid jobs. Most people will inevitably end up working for somebody else, who will almost inevitably pay them a bare minimum required, not more than they have to. This is not an ideal world and maybe there is not so much chance for things to be different soon, but claiming that average people on average salaries shouldn’t have kids is just ridiculous.

  6. Wonderful topic with good points from both sides. I think with businesses it comes down to the ROI on an employee. If an employee can provide enough value for the company, then accommodations aren’t so troublesome.

    If employers want to hire less women as a precaution, then they’re limiting themselves. Like Neal Suggested, they may want to start their own business or they’ll find a company where they can use their talents.

  7. At some point, all of us require something from the system that some others do not require. In this case, those babies are going to grow up to be the ones working and paying into the system that will be supporting all of us when we are elderly and no longer economically productive. They will be contributing to our support, lifestyles, and to the maintenance of our nation’s infrastructure and systems whether or not we actually had and supported to adulthood children of our own. For that reason, whining about the cost of doing business when it comes to employees and coworkers having children and taking time to do it well is shortsighted and the height of self-absorbed selfishness.

    1. That is a good point that potentially and perhaps one day these kids will grow up to be productive members of society and give back. After all, we need tons more youth to support the aging during social security which is why Germany and Japan have big problems!

      Great comment.

  8. financialwizardess

    I’m not at all surprised that a female manager would be less understanding than a male. 1) she’s bitter about her own situation and 2) she doesn’t worry about being called sexist.

    I do wonder where you come up with 3 months leave. I just gave birth 3 months ago and have been back at work for 8 weeks now. :) We get 6 weeks, as do most short term disability firms. The rest of the 3 months you can take UNPAID per FMLA. At least, that’s how it works here. So it’s not really like you’re getting 3 months of your salary. I got 6 weeks at 80% of salary paid thru my insurance.

  9. I think that maternity and paternity leave is fine as far as protecting the job – but no one should be paid (by anyone, gov’t or business) for that time off. If you can’t afford to take the time off, YOU CAN’T AFFORD TO HAVE A KID. Personally, I think that the tax break for children should be taken away, as well, and for the same reason.
    .-= Honey´s last blog gives 5000 Fatties the Boot =-.

    1. @ Honey – As a woman, you provide interesting perspective. Being able to afford a kid is an interesting topic we’ll be discussing here in the future. If one can’t afford to take care of one’s own finances, why have kids in the first place? One maybe, two OK, but 3, 4, 5?!

    1. Sara – Maybe not, but do companies need 6 months (not 9) to even plan I would think 3 months of planning, or even 1-2 months should suffice to hold down the fort for the 3 months the woman is out no?

  10. Samurai, I appreciate your thoughtful insight into this matter. Women shouldn’t be penalized for being women. I’m surprised that this 40 something manager is so harsh but then she may pass judgement because she’s made different life choices. As a father and someone who watched his wife go through a short maternity leave, we in America really don’t get it. I don’t know what the perfect answer is because probably everything would cost more (insurance premiums, lowered perks, etc.) if you gave women more time with their babies but it’s worth it. If the women want it let them have it. It will lead to good things. Moms need to bond with their children. It’s good for society. It’s good for the world.

    1. Jerry – Thanks for your thoughts. I think the 40-something yr old manager might very well be upset that she herself doesn’t have kids and a family. Who knows for sure. Everybody has their own gripes.

      Look forward to seeing you around!

  11. 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 =-.

  12. @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!

  13. 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.

  14. @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!


  15. 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?

  16. neal@wealthpilgrim

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


    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”.

  17. JOhn DeFlumeri Jr

    I disagree with both sides, and I believe that every situation is unique, both men and women want as much time off as they can get.

    John DeFlumeri Jr
    .-= JOhn DeFlumeri Jr´s last blog ..Podcast "Lost and Found But Still Lost!" =-.

  18. 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 =-.

  19. 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 =-.

  20. @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 =-.

  21. 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 =-.

  22. @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?

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

    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.

    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.

    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!

  23. 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.

  24. 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 =-.

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