Motherhood Penalty

This very short video from Statistics New Zealand explains “the motherhood penalty”

Statistics New Zealand has just published a report which looked at the difference in pay between mothers who have children and those women who do not have children. The report looked at the gender pay gap between men and women in the June quarter of 2016. Men who were parents earned an average of $28.30 an hour while women who were parents earned an average of $23.40. This is a pay gap of about 17%. However, the gender pay gap between men and women who were not parents was 5%. The difference between the two pay gaps is the motherhood penalty.

Mothers who had children living with them at home, earned 12% less than women who did not have children. Sole mothers earned less than the average. On the other hand, men who were parents earned more than the average rate for males.

How can the motherhood difference be explained? The report noted that there needs to be more research to discover the reasons. The writers listed some possibilities. Women who have children have an interrupted career while they look after small children. Traditional female jobs usually pay less than male jobs. Women who have children may choose a “mother friendly” job which fits in with school holidays and school hours. Mothers may be more tired than women who do not have children. It is possible there is discrimination in the work force between men and women so that the latter do not get promotion.

Stats NZ is asking for feedback on this report. Read the report and see if you have some suggestions to make for further research.


• penalty – negative result or consequence, punishment
• sole, solo (adj) – alone
• the latter – the last mentioned (here it is women)

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