Men earn more when they become parents

‘Men earn more when they become parents’ – this is the headline that really jumped out at me this week:

According to TUC research around analysis of 17,000 people’s salaries, it was found that men get a ‘pay rise’ of 21% when they become fathers, versus full-time working mothers facing an 11% pay cut.


Good question.  Although feeling initially somewhat astonished by the implications of this research, here are my initial thoughts:

First and foremost, the impact of a new mother taking ‘months’ of leave versus a new father taking ‘weeks’ is clearly huge.  The longer you are away from the office, the harder it is to maintain networks, knowledge and confidence.

Gender stereotypes and expectations play a huge role here.  In this generation, as it is still fairly rare to hear working dads talk openly about their children at work, this still gives it the novelty factor.  Seeing the caring, open, empathetic side of a dad at work is endearing, and will boost communication and relationships.  The sad fact about this research is the issue that working fathers are clearly spending time and focus on career-enhancing activities, whilst having a young family at home.  We know already that new dads often respond to the pressures of early parenthood by working hard for family security.  The TUC report points to labour market statistics that show full-time working fathers work on average half an hour longer each week than men without children. The report also refers to research in the US that found increased work effort accounted for 16% of the fatherhood bonus.

Finally, I would question the extent of awareness of this research to business leaders and to HR.  What is the future impact of our working dads working more (and getting rewarded more) on our working mothers?  And on those dads who really do want to play more of a parenting role?  Are we seeing an example here of how the progressive role of the modern father in society is lagging woefully behind the role of the working father in organisations with a traditional mindset?

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