‘Pregnancy Penalty' Can Affect Pay of Women Without Kids

Pregnant women are still believed to be preoccupied with their babies, one author says

As women fight what has been an uphill battle for equal pay, they continue to face another exacerbating factor: being penalized for the fact that they could – regardless of whether they will – have children, NBC News reports.

While much of the public discussion of the "wage gap" has focused on women getting equal pay for the same work as their male peers, this quiet "pregnancy penalty" has gotten less attention, in part because it's so much more difficult to measure. But some experts argue that even the mere possibility that a woman can have a baby can be enough for employers to push her to the back of the line.

"It is often the case that mothers are held to a higher standard than others in the work place," said Emily Martin, general counsel with the National Women's Law Center. "And they are penalized if they cannot meet that standard."

This higher standard is due to an antiquated notion that women who are pregnant are perpetually preoccupied with their babies and cannot possibly be productive, said "Why Women Still Can't Have It All" author Anne-Marie Slaughter, former director of policy planning for the U.S. State Department.

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