Paid Paternity Leave Isn’t Enough to Close Gender Wage Gaps, Research Finds
More needs to be done to ensure that women are not penalized for having families.
Champions of paid paternity leave have argued that giving fathers — as well as mothers — the opportunity to take time off when their child is born without taking a career hit, will help decrease gender discrimination in the workplace.
But new research has shown that this isn’t enough, Quartz reported.
In Denmark, where substantial paid parental leave is offered to both mothers and fathers, data has shown that the gender wage gap persists, and is only slightly narrower than it is in the US, the only developed country without paid family leave.
But that doesn’t mean that paternity leave is a bad policy — it’s that simply offering paid family leave to fathers isn’t enough to mitigate existing gender imbalances.
In 2015, women in the US made just 80 cents for every dollar men earned, according to the Institute for Women’s Policy Research. And globally, no country has successfully achieved gender wage equality, the World Economic Forum reported.
These existing gender inequalities mean that even with paid paternity leave encouraging co-parenting and reducing the amount of time that women might take away from work when they become mothers, gender inequality in the workplace continues.
There are other factors that have to be addressed before paid paternity leave can meaningfully reduce inequality, the research suggests, like ensuring that women are paid the same wage as men for equal work and combatting the stereotype that raising children is a woman's job.
Though Denmark has generous family leave policies, if parents want to stay home with their child during its first year of life, not all 52 weeks will be covered by paid parental leave policies, according to Quartz. As a result, the parent who earns less is often the one who stays home because less income will be “lost” — and women are typically lower-earners in male-female pairs.
The research also showed that women electing to take extended leave discouraged employers from hiring them, perpetuating the cycle.
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