silhouette of man with children

Why Fathers Feel There is a "Parenthood Penalty"

Study after study shows that the motherhood penalty on women’s careers is alive and well. When women become mothers, the gender pay gap grows wider and job options decrease. For each child they have, women lose 4% of hourly earnings on average. And even women without children face gender discrimination in the hiring process due to cultural bias against mothers. These barriers not only cost women in the U.S. an estimated $16,000 a year in lost wages, but they also deprive companies of the best talent.

Given the facts, it may shock you to hear that dad actually feels more of the burn than mom does when it comes to the parenthood penalty. New research on “Reframing Motherhood” done by Berlin Cameron, Kantar, the Female Quotient found that, when compared to mothers, a higher percentage of fathers believe that both parents are discriminated against at work. What may be making men feel this way, despite the so-called “the fatherhood premium?” Restrictive gender stereotypes are a big part of the problem.

It’s time to normalize caregiving in the work for both men and women. Here are three ideas on how we can get there.

Recognize that becoming a parent makes both moms and dads better leaders. Nearly 80% of working fathers agree (and 75% of moms agree) that being a parent makes someone a better leader, according to our research. Fathers feel that when they become a parent, they believe they are better at:

  • Asking for help: Being specific of when where and how I need help
  • Making time to connect
  • More easily deciding what is important or not
  • Being respectful of other’s people’s time
  • Multitasking

Offer equal paid parental leave. Offering equal paid leave will go a long way toward minimizing hiring bias. Research finds that while half of fathers think men should take paternity leave, only 36% actually take all their permitted leave. Making it mandatory would help level the playing field for both men and women.

Show that partnership starts at home. If you want a dual-income family, then it’s important to equally shoulder the household responsibilities as well so that both partners can thrive in the workplace and at home. Media has the power to change culture, and that’s why it’s important for content creators to portray both men and women as caregivers so we can overcome stereotypes. If you see it, you believe you can be it.


For more on gender equality and caregiving, check out:

The FQ Equality News 5.31.19

How to Get Past the Messy Middle to the Top

How to Hire with an Equality Mindset