The Discounted Value of Working Mothers

Am I surprised to learn that working mums earn less after having a baby? No – just surprised that it’s taken this long for a fuss to be made. It’s been a taboo subject for many years, with women having to quietly accept lesser roles and responsibilities and a pay cut to match, fearful that complaining would jeopardise their future. However much companies claim to be supportive of working mothers, according to maternitycover.com, more than 68% of new mums claim to earn less than before giving birth.

Work-life balance is a zero sum game, as employers make the assumption that mothers cannot be equally committed to their family and their work – so working mums suffer from ‘discounted value’. This is as ludicrous as it is unfair. Working mothers are way more focussed and organised once they return to work – in fact, 73% of women say they are better employees as a result of becoming a mum. Having advised and encouraged hundreds of women facing this situation to continue working flexibly, here is the best way to approach it.

  1. Your career is a series of jobs and is based on evolution, so the key is to keep going and doing some work – even if it’s not the best-paid work – in order to have a continuous work journey.
  2. Changing direction and being creative with your choices is important – versatility and adaptability are vital characteristics in today’s labour market.
  3. Last but not least – ‘value’ yourself and ask for what you think you are worth. This is an exercise that should be done regularly so that you can throw into the pot the qualities you bring, as well as your particular demands, in order to make an informed next career move.

Yes we can be dismayed, but we also need to be pragmatic until the day employers wake up and notice the true value of the working mothers they employ. It is surely only a matter of time.