Women with kids play catch up with wages

If you’re a woman, having kids will cost you. As in, your paycheque could be as much as 30 percent less at age 40—if your younger days included hovering over Diaper Genies and Baby Einstein DVDs, as opposed to cosmopolitans and kayaks (or whatever it is people without kids do).

That’s according to a Statistics Canada study released March 24. But two North Vancouver-based mom advocates are taking the news pretty calmly.

Lisa Martin is a certified life coach whose Briefcase Moms workshop series strives to help employers reintegrate new moms. Jill Earthy is a founder of momcafé, and executive director of the Forum for Women Entrepreneurs.

You’d think they’d be up in arms.

“Physiologically, we have the children,” Earthy told the Straight, noting that’s why having babies may disproportionately impact women. “But there’s still a long way to go within the corporate world to support work-life balance.”

Martin noted that she’d need more information about the study, which took place from 1993 to 2004. Until then, she’s reserving judgment.

“I think that anyone who steps out of the workforce for three years or more are going to be playing catch-up when it comes to wages,” she said. Martin added that she’d like to know what kind of wage impact men who stay home with kids experience, to decide whether this is truly a gender issue. “But I don’t think that one should be penalized for having a family.”

Both women said, anecdotally, they know women for whom the financial loss rings true, and those who managed to catch up again. Martin suggested that additional skills training after a mom returns to the workforce can have an impact.

So can corporate culture, they claim. In November 2008, a 10,000-working-mom survey was conducted by momcafé, Martin Group International, and Connect Moms. They found that, overwhelmingly, moms returning to the workforce are looking for two things: flexibility in terms of work hours and ability to work from home (which, of course has a trust element to it), and supportive leadership.

So, in an effort to promote those attributes, they’re in the process of gathering nominations of what they call “Progressive Employers” to recognize their efforts at supporting parents. Nominations are due by April 15, and the list will be compiled in May.

Some of the attributes they’re looking for include:

Ӣ personal/life balance coaching
Ӣ access to emergency childcare
Ӣ flex-time
Ӣ job cooperatives/job sharing
Ӣ part-time or contract positions
Ӣ gradual re-entry after maternity leave
Ӣ concierge services
Ӣ citation rooms
Ӣ on-site daycare
Ӣ information and access to daycare facilities in your area
Ӣ maternity and parental leave top-up
Ӣ health benefits




Mar 28, 2009 at 10:29am

Not all childless women are out drinking cosmopolitans and paddling around in kayaks. Some of us work a hell of a lot harder at work and at home and as volunteers in the community than some mothers who routinely dump their kids with babysitters and head to the nightclubs or stick us with their work when they leave the job to go to a child's school event.


Jun 2, 2009 at 9:41pm

If someone thinks it's okay to stick you with their work, that's has nothing to do with being a parent but all to do with lack of courtesy. It sounds like you have a chip on your shoulder or maybe you just work too hard. If you're not out enjoying a cosmo or seeing nature from a kayak now, well, lilfe is short. I hope mommy karma doesn't get you.