Working Moms Deserve Equal Wages This Mother's Day

by Lauren Holter

Women have it pretty rough in the workforce — struggling to find jobs, prove their worth as employees, and receive the same paycheck as their male coworkers — and adding kids to the mix makes it even harder for women to succeed at work. The lack of universal maternity leave in the U.S. has gained attention in recent years, but on top of losing wages and possibly their job for giving birth, working moms face an even larger wage gap than women without kids. So, instead of stale bouquets of roses and mediocre boxes of chocolates, working moms deserve equal pay this Mother's Day.

Men have always made more than women in the workplace, and though the wage gap has slowly decreased, ladies still make 21 cents less on the dollar. However, women with kids make a whopping 27 cents less for every dollar than working fathers, according to a new study by the National Women's Law Center (NWLC). In case 27 cents doesn't seem like a whole lot, that means for every dollar a father makes at work, a mother makes 73 cents. Just as women of color face a harsher gender wage gap overall, they're also more severely punished for reproducing, as African American mothers make 53 cents and Latina mothers 47 cents compared to every dollar white fathers earn.

This motherhood wage gap exists in every single state. In 15 states, moms make two-thirds or less of what fathers are paid, and the worst offenders are Louisiana, North Dakota, and West Virginia, where mothers make an average of 53, 59, and 60 cents respectively for every dollar fathers receive. In stark contrast, fathers typically make more than their male coworkers without kids, partly because working fathers are perceived as more committed to their jobs, while working moms are seen as less so (a perception likely linked to unequal childcare that forces working moms to take off or leave work early more often than dads).

"The price of motherhood shouldn't be a smaller paycheck," NWLC Vice President for Workplace Justice Emily Martin said in a statement sent to Bustle. She continued:

Stark data show that this gap is even wider for women of color, who are more likely to be the sole breadwinner for their families and can least afford a hole in their paychecks. Because of outdated policies and attitudes, mothers and the families depending on their earnings have shouldered the cost of this wage gap for too long. It's time to close the gap.

It's counterintuitive for mothers to suffer a higher wage gap than other women, when they have children to support. Nevertheless, it's the reality of the American workforce.

For employers who plan to spoil your own moms this Sunday, consider rethinking how you pay the mothers who work for you instead (or in addition to — I don't recommend ignoring your mom!). Not only will you help combat a major inequality plaguing the country, but you'll also show your mom that you recognize the hardships she likely faced and prove to her that you appreciate motherhood.

Women fought hard to work alongside men and shouldn't be punished for bringing new life into the world. Mother's Day is about honoring and celebrating motherhood, making it the perfect opportunity to give mother's the basic right of equal pay.