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Equal Voice

Moms Work 5 Extra Months to Earn as Much as Dads, Research Says

May 30, 2018

Paul Nyhan
By Paul Nyhan
Manager of Storytelling

Working mothers do not work 9 to 5, they actually have to work five extra months to earn what fathers make in a year, researchers say.

Today, mothers earn 71 cents, on average, for every dollar fathers make, the Institute for Women’s Policy Research reports. That means moms, on average, won’t earn what dads earned in all of 2017 until May 30, 2018.

The #MomsEqualPay Day campaign is working to eliminate this pay gap. The campaign is led by a coalition of organizations, including MomsRising, National Domestic Workers Alliance, 9to5 and ACLU, which have joined forces to focus attention on the disparity. On May 30, these groups led a Twitter Storm, a social media barrage of tweets with information about equal pay and moms that streamed under #MomsEqualPay from 11 a.m. to 12 p.m. PST.

“The wages of moms of color are hit even harder: Black moms earn just 54 cents; Latina moms 46 cents; Native American moms 49 cents; and Asian American Pacific Islander moms 85 cents, with some Asian-American subgroups paid significantly less. Single moms suffer a punishing wage gap as well, earning on average just 57 cents for every dollar paid to dads,” Kristin Rowe-Finkbeiner, executive director of MomsRising, said in a statement.

The pay gap between moms and dads is about a lot more than gender equity. It creates a high barrier to low-income families working to achieve economic security. If moms earned equal pay, for example, 2.5 million children with working mothers would no longer live in poverty, according to the Institute for Women’s Policy Research, which is raising awareness of the issue.

“The poverty rate for all working women would be cut in half, falling from 8.0 percent to 3.8 percent. The very high poverty rate for working single mothers would fall by nearly half, from 28.9 percent to 14.5 percent,” the Institute’s report says.

There are a lot of reasons and issues behind the wide pay gap, researchers say. At work, for example, moms can face unconscious bias. This can show up when a manager assumes a mother left work early to attend her child’s soccer game, when, in fact, she is at a client meeting, Ariane Hegewisch, program director at the Institute for Women’s Policy Research, explains.

The country also does not have enough support for working parents, such as affordable and high-quality child, and schooldays that end closer to the close of the workday, Hegewisch adds.

Dads also can play a big role. Society, including employers, needs to make it easier for fathers to care for their kids, and that does not only mean paid parental leave, Hegewisch says. In the workplace, senior leaders can help pave the way by actually taking parental leave, she adds.


Paul Nyhan is the senior writer for Equal Voice. Equal Voice is Marguerite Casey Foundation’s publication featuring stories of America’s families creating social change. With Equal Voice, we challenge how people think and talk about poverty in America. All original and contracted Equal Voice content – articles, photos and videos – can be reproduced for free, as long as proper credit and a link to our homepage are included.

2018 © Marguerite Casey Foundation

Moms Work 5 Extra Months to Earn as Much as Dads, Research Says