Everyone’s job to end the “motherhood penalty”

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Women pay a price for becoming parents, the PSA says, and it’s up to government, employers and society to put that right.

New research from Motu Economic and Public Policy Research shows the gender pay gap is larger for men and women with children (12.5%) than it is for people without children (5.7%).

The average man sees little effect on his hourly wages after becoming a parent, while women’s decrease by 4.4 per cent - and the longer the women stayed home, the bigger the drop.

"Having a child is a time when people take on a new and exciting role in life - in addition to their professional identity, they are now a parent," PSA National Secretary Erin Polaczuk says.

"Motu’s research shows women’s income is reduced on returning to work, while men’s stays the same - and two years ago Statistics New Zealand came to a similar conclusion.

"The motherhood penalty is real and it needs to be addressed."

The State Services Commission says greater workplace flexibility is the key to resolving the "leaky pipeline", where women leave the public service long before hitting any glass ceiling.

"We know that women who request flexible work are often shunted into part-time positions - few of which are permanent," Ms Polaczuk says.

"The soon-to-be released Gender Pay Principles will include a commitment to flexible work for both men and women, and we hope that will change the stigma that’s still attached to those requests."

But Ms Polaczuk says on their own, the principles will not be enough to end gender-based discrimination.

"We need to end the myth that women show less commitment to their jobs after becoming parents - and the side-eye at men who choose to be full-time carers.

"We also need truly family-friendly workplaces where employers support and empower all their staff - of all genders, parents or not.

"New Zealand’s about to have a female Prime Minister who’s a first-time parent, working full-time with a stay-at-home partner.

"Government, business and society need to make sure that all parents in Aotearoa have the options she has."