Working Moms And Dads: The Divide Between Salary And Job Titles

By Rosemary Haefner

Mother's Day and the soon-approaching Father's Day are opportunities to appreciate the hard work that goes into being a parent and providing for a family. Those parents who hold down a job while raising a family face a complicated set of responsibilities and challenges both at home and at the office.

In a new CareerBuilder survey examining the professional and family roles of working parents, workers' salary, title and job satisfaction are evolving year to year. This shift is partially due to the workforce's increasingly favorable view of flexible schedules and work/life balance. However, the survey sheds light on the remaining gender gap and the career challenges faced by working parents who are also the sole financial earners in their households.

To gain better insight and learn about the career turns of working parents, consider these findings from CareerBuilder's annual Mother's Day survey.

Salary and title by gender
Choosing a career path that can support a family's financial and time demands is a challenge every working parent faces, though not everyone chooses the same route. While many households have two parents that work, others have one sole financial provider, and the survey reveals some noteworthy characteristics of these parents.

Thirty-one percent of working moms and 37 percent of working dads reported that they are the only earners for their households. While working moms and dads who are sole financial providers are equally likely to work in a management position (20 percent), more men reported holding a senior management role, such as a CEO, CFO, Senior VP, etc.

The survey findings also point to a significant disproportion of men and women in other job levels within a company. Working dads who are the sole earners are nearly twice as likely to report holding a professional or technical role -- 57 percent compared to 28 percent of working moms. Working moms who are the sole earners are twice as likely to report working in an administrative or clerical role -- 52 percent compared to 23 percent of men.

Working dads who are the sole earners also tend to be in a higher earning bracket. They are four times as likely to earn six figures, while working moms who are the sole earners are nearly twice as likely to earn less than $35,000:

Earn less than $35,000 annually
  • Working moms who are sole financial providers: 38 percent
  • Working dads who are sole financial providers: 21 percent
Earn $100,000 or more annually
  • Working moms who are sole financial providers: 6 percent
  • Working dads who are sole financial providers: 24 percent
Job satisfaction by gender
While working moms earn less than working dads, they tend to be more content in their jobs overall. Seventy-eight percent of working moms reported they are happy in their current roles at work compared to 73 percent of working dads.

Maternity and paternity leave
Financial concerns, demanding roles and the pressure to stay on top at work may be influencing early returns from maternity or paternity leave. More than one third (34 percent) of working moms who had a baby in the last three years didn't take the full maternity leave allotted to them by their companies, up from 30 percent last year and 26 percent in 2012. One in five (22 percent) took a leave of one month or less, while 11 percent took two weeks or less.

More than half (54 percent) of working dads who welcomed a new baby in the last three years didn't take the full paternity leave offered by their companies. Half of working dads (49 percent) took two weeks of paternity leave or less, 21 percent took five weeks or more while 22 percent didn't take any time off. Working dads were twice as likely to work while on leave at 21 percent.

Some new parents couldn't completely leave the office behind, even with a new baby in the family. Ten percent of mothers and 21 percent of new dads say they worked while on maternity and paternity leave.

While employers are beginning to embrace work/life balances, thanks to the rising acceptance of flexible work arrangements and telecommuting, working moms and dads continue to make sacrifices and manage personal and professional responsibilities.

Stay-at-home parents returning to work
Moms and dads are on a 24-hour shift, seven days a week, and the skills developed as a parent to teach, troubleshoot, manage multiple priorities and arbitrate are very transferable to corporate environments. If you're a parent getting back into the workforce or first joining it, incorporate what you learned from those work experiences at home.

The majority of employers (65 percent) believe that parenting can qualify as relevant experience for the workplace. Aside from patience, the top work-related skills that employers said people acquire as parents include:
  • Ability to multi-task – 64 percent
  • Time management – 58 percent
  • Conflict management – 49 percent
  • Good problem-solving skills – 48 percent
  • Mentoring – 40 percent
  • Budgeting and managing finances – 34 percent
  • Negotiation – 33 percent
  • Project management – 25 percent
A career comes with its own challenges, and adding family responsibilities to the workload will require an adjustment period for parents and employers alike. New parents need to communicate their needs and have a frank conversation with their employers. Employers need to encourage this dialogue and find ways to accommodate their employees' changing needs. Collaboration between both parties can help working parents have happy and successful careers and home lives.

Rosemary Haefner is vice president of human resources at CareerBuilder.
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