Income disparity for working mothers: Eliminating structural discrimination through public policy
everal studies have shown that in the United States mothers earn lower incomes than employees of similar qualifications and productivity levels. This phenomenon is known as the motherhood penalty. This paper analyzes the antecedents of the motherhood penalty as well as other factors that result in mothers earning lower wages than other women and men, particularly fathers. This begs the question: what role do institutions play in maintaining wage inequality through public policies, specifically maternity leave policy? In answering this question, both the Pregnancy Discrimination Act of 1978 and the Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993 are examined to identify the gaps between current policy and what is needed to promote equality between mothers and nonmothers.
Faculty Mentor: Mary C. King