Postponing Motherhood Boosts Women's Pay, Study Says

"A year of delayed motherhood is found to increase career earnings by 9 percent, work experience by 9 percent, and average wage rates by 3 percent," so says a study just published by Journal of Population Economics.

The study, "The Effects of Motherhood Timing on Career Path," was written by Amalia R. Miller, an economics professor at the University of Virginia. The study also notes how the effects of delay are amplified by greater amounts of education.

"Supporting a human capital story, the postponement premium is largest for college-educated women and those in professional and managerial occupations. Family leave laws do not significantly influence the premium," the study notes.

The findings jibe with the ongoing wage disparity between the genders in this country. As was reported on AOL Jobs in June, women are still making on average 77 percent of what men do, according to Census data. And that's even 48 years after President John F. Kennedy signed the Equal Pay Act in a bid to reach wage parity.

The explanations for the disparity's durability range from the downright sexist to the impact of motherhood. But it's instructive to note that wage disparity is far less in the public sector and even at the highest levels of corporate America, according to the Institute for Women's Policy Research (IWPR).

"Transparency doesn't kill anyone," Ariane Hegewisch, the study director for the Institute, told AOL Jobs. She was pointing out that in instances when salaries are publicly distributed they are much less likely to diverge along gender lines.

Indeed according to research compiled by the IWPR, 23 percent of American companies outright ban their employees from finding out information about peers' salaries, while another 38 percent discourage it.

And it's for that reason that Hegeswich and other advocates for wage parity are pushing for legislation that enables salary transparency. The thinking is that unequal pay can never survive public shaming. Currently languishing in Congress, the Paycheck Fairness Act (PFA) would make it illegal for companies to retaliate against female employees who try and find out information about males' wages. It would also facilitate for the filing of class action lawsuits, which has made it the target of activists and politicians seeking to lessen, not increase, litigation.

Backed by President Obama, and passed by the House, the PFA came up two votes short of overcoming a Republican filibuster in the Senate in November of last year.

The move toward transparency is widely seen as the antidote. Indeed, as was also reported on AOL Jobs, a new study expects parity to be a legitimate, albeit hard-to-reach, goal. The U.K.-based Chartered Management Institute (CMI) even pegged the year when we'll get to this promised land. Making calculations based on the current pace of change with regard to wage parity, the year 2109 was the expected date for top levels of management, while 2067 was selected as a fair estimate for lower down on the corporate totem pole.

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