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Day Symbolizes Pay Gap Between Moms and Dads

Mothers make less than 69 cents for every dollar fathers make in Washington state. (MomsRising.org)
Mothers make less than 69 cents for every dollar fathers make in Washington state. (MomsRising.org)
May 16, 2016

SEATTLE – Just a week and a day after Mothers' Day, comes Mothers' Equal Pay Day, a date that marks how far into 2016 a mom typically has to work to make up for last year's difference in income between moms and dads.

The observance today is based on a National Women's Law Center study that shows mothers make 73 cents for every dollar fathers make.

Kristin Rowe-Finkbeiner, head of the organization Moms Rising, says another study, from Stanford University, illustrates how mothers are discriminated against when it comes to hiring and pay.

"Moms are 80 percent less likely to be hired than non-moms for the same job,” she points out. “And in fact they're also – for highly paid jobs – offered $11,000 lower starting salaries. Dads on the other hand are offered $6,000 more."

In Washington state, mothers make less than 69 cents for every dollar fathers make. Annually, the gap amounts to $19,000 less for Washington mothers.

Rowe-Finkbeiner says U.S. lawmakers should update the Paycheck Fairness Act so that wages in companies are more transparent and patterns of inequality can be identified.

"When we're talking about discrimination against moms, we're talking about a lot about subconscious, implicit bias,” Rowe-Finkbeiner states. “There isn't a committee of people saying, 'Let's pay moms less.' It's a lot of subconscious, small decisions that significantly add up over time in a really big way."

Rowe-Finkbeiner says paid family leave, affordable child care, and easy access to health care can also help lower the wage gap.

As head of Moms Rising, Rowe-Finkbeiner hears many stories from working mothers. In one case, a woman came to a sad realization when she looked around and found most of her co-workers were women.

"She walked up and she asked the director, 'Why are there so many women here?'” Rowe-Finkbeiner relates. “And he said, 'Because I can pay them less.' And then she wrote in and said the part that's heartbreaking, which is 'I hadn't yet learned I was less valuable than a man.'"


Eric Tegethoff, Public News Service - WA