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As a woman trying to make her way in a male-dominated industry, I can attest to the fact that getting ahead didn’t come easily or naturally for me. I had to speak up more than I was comfortable with doing, kept up beer-for-beer with my boss at happy hour, ditched every stitch of pink clothing, and expanded my work vocabulary to include a wide and colorful variety of four-letter words. Did I do this because I wanted to? Not quite. Did I do it to relate more to the men in my office in the hopes that they would begin to see me as an equal and offer me more work, responsibility, and pay? You betcha. After over a year of hard work, I’ve finally gotten to the point where my career is in a great place and I’m an indispensable member of my team. Unfortunately, once I start to pop out babies, that’s all going to go to hell.
A new study just published in the American Sociological Review found that if you’re a wealthy white woman who chooses to have children, things are going to suck for you once you get back into the workplace. When taking into consideration time off for child-rearing and the loss of future raises from being out of work, for every child white women who worked high-paying, high-level jobs have, their incomes decrease 10%. Lower-paid women aren’t excluded from this, but their losses drop to only 4-7% of their salaries per child.
While I do feel bad for these rich white women (partly because, well, I am a white woman), I have to call bullshit on this study and its so-called “findings.” If you’re bringing in 6 figures on a regular basis, is it honestly that surprising that your wages would be adjusted to an annual $90K after taking a generous amount of time off in unpaid leave after having a child? After all, at that salary, your livelihood probably doesn’t depend on you returning back to work the second you squeeze out an infant. However, if you’re a receptionist making $32K a year without paid leave, not only is it going to be necessary for you to return to work ASAP to make ends meet, but, quite honestly, your salary can’t take too many hits when you’re at the bottom of the income pool, meaning your earnings take a lower percentage hit than women making bank.
Of course, it sucks that women lose money for childbirth regardless, because unless I missed something in ninth-grade health class, it takes more than just a female to make a baby. But unless the U.S. decides to begin implementing a paid-leave policy or you start working for a trendy tech giant with inclusive corporate policies, taking time off for childbirth and any additional time you want to spend with your newborn should probably be factored into your budget when determining your cost of living. Personally, I’m not planning on having any kids for quite a while, so I’m just going to keep my fingers crossed for a more liberal policy-maker in office by the time my biological clock starts ticking. .