The salary disparity between mothers and fathers with higher education is still as wide as it was 40 years ago, according to new data.
According to University of Kent senior lecturer in economics Amanda Gosling, who looked at microdata from 1978, the average gender wage difference is significantly smaller than it was 40 years ago; in fact, it marginally decreased by 0.6 per cent last year. But not all women have benefited from this catch-up.
After years of steady advancement, the improvement for women without a university degree has stalled in the last ten years.
“Barriers to career progression for mothers with some post-school education have hardly shifted. The gap in pay between mothers and fathers looks very similar now as it did in the late 1970s. The story for Gen Xers is the same for Boomers and Millennials.
“For women without any post-school education, the story for mothers – from the 1970s until quite recently – paints a picture of fast progress. The percentage gap has almost halved from almost 80 per cent in the late 1970s to about 40 per cent in 2012. However, over the last 8 years, the process of catch-up has stalled.”
According to Gosling’s research, mothers’ median hourly earnings are currently only about 72 per cent of fathers’, which means that even if women do decide to put their careers on hold to have children, it is unlikely that they will ever be able to make up the 28 per cent gap and catch up to their male counterparts.
This difference is significantly wider than the gender pay gap and presents a much bigger problem in light of the current cost of living crisis.
Kent Business School, University of Kent, lecturer in human resource management Dr Samantha Evans says: “Women are more likely to work in lower paid, precarious employment than their male counterparts, and it is understood that the cost-of-living crisis is disproportionately impacting these women because they are less able to absorb the inflationary shock of higher energy and food bills. These inflated household costs become bigger proportion of income for lower-paid women – who are also less likely to have savings to cover such increases in the cost of living.
“For mothers, the cost of childcare is a big issue as it puts additional pressure on parents, usually mother’s, financial resources. Childcare costs have risen significantly in the UK in recent years. A recent survey of parents found that childcare costs have forced 43 per cent of mothers to consider leaving their jobs and 43 per cent to work fewer hours. The same survey found that 25 per cent of parents say that they have had to cut down on expenses such as food, heating or clothing to afford the increase in childcare costs with 99 per cent of parents saying that the cost of childcare is making the cost-of-living crisis even more challenging.
“When women try to respond to the cost of living crisis by seeking out better paid roles, motherhood again makes the job market more complicated for women. Due to their childcare needs, changing jobs can be more challenging for women and they are also less likely to be geographically mobile to do their caring responsibilities.
“All of this paints a very concerning picture for women this winter, as evidence clearly links financial wellbeing to employee performance because financial distress has a detrimental impact on employee wellbeing and engagement. Evidence also shows that women are more likely to be suffering from burnout post-Covid largely due to the pressures they were under during the pandemic taking main responsibility for home-schooling.”