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The motherhood penalties: insights from women in UK Academia

The motherhood penalties: insights from women in UK Academia

519/2020 Vera E. Troeger Riccardo Di Leo Mariaelisa Epifanio Thomas J. Scotto
working papers,political economy

519/2020 Vera E. Troeger Riccardo Di Leo Mariaelisa Epifanio Thomas J. Scotto

We use an original survey of academic women in the UK to investigate different dimensions of the motherhood penalty. Being a mother has no effect on salaries, but still slows down career progression even in such a high-skilled sector. Motherhood has an ambivalent impact on women’s perception of their working environment: improving satisfaction, but reducing perception of salary fairness relative to men. Our paper also explores how different policies can mitigate the motherhood penalties. We find that more generous maternity provisions are associated with higher salary, potentially because generosity reduces the crowding out of research activity. Better availability of childcare and an even distribution of responsibilities within the household correlate positively with earnings. Our findings also highlight the importance of a supportive work environment for mothers’ career and well-being at the workplace. Taken together, these findings suggest the necessity of a multi-faceted policy response to the motherhood penalties.

Political Economy