Each month there’s new evidence that the difference in professional trajectories between men and women is on account of the “ten-year baby window.” Immediately after the first birth, the pay gap between spouses doubles. This applies especially to women who have their first child between the ages of 25 and 35. In other words, women who have their first child either before age 25, or only after age 35, are more likely eventually to close the pay gap – and, we may assume, the leadership gap – with their husbands.
This of course raises the question of why. Why are women more likely than men to suffer the consequences of having a child during an all-important professional decade? The answer of course is time – time spent on the job versus time spent on child care. As Claire Cain Miller writes in the New York Times, children require a lot of time, particularly young children, and mothers spend “disproportionately more time than fathers on child care and related responsibilities…. Women are more likely to reduce their work hours, take time off, turn down a promotion, or quit their jobs to care for families. Even in in families in which both parents work full time., women spend almost double the time on housework and child care.”*
Which again raises the question of why. Why do women agree to do this, to make this professional sacrifice? Or is it possible that many women, maybe even the majority, actually want to do this – want to work less outside the home and more inside the home when their children are young?!
To answer these questions, I refer you to my previous blogs on this topic that insist that biology is key. Humans are animals – mammals. Male mammals parent differently from female mammals. Period. Full stop.
This is not to argue that biology is destiny. It is to argue that biology matters.
*Claire Cain Miller, “10-Year Baby Window is Key to Women’s Pay Gap.” https://www.nytimes.com/2018/04/09/upshot/the-10-year-baby-window-that-is-the-key-to-the-womens-pay-gap.html